Mid-Season Review: The Outfield | The Process Report

Mid-Season Review: The Outfield

The All-Star Break is here. The Rays are 55-41, 2 1/2 games back of the division lead, and sit atop the American League’s Wild Card standings by half a game. Here is a look at the performance of Tampa Bay’s outfield:

Matt Joyce: A typical performance from Joyce in the first half. A slow start was turned around in the month of May in which he hit 12 of his 27 extra-base hits. When Desmond Jennings struggled in the lead-off spot, Maddon called on the more patient Joyce to head his lineup. With the addition of Wil Myers, he slid down the defensive spectrum: moving from right to left field, which may be for the best.

Desmond Jennings: Sleek and speedy, Jennings has the look of a prototypical lead-off hitter; however, his production thus far mirrors that of a hitter in the second half of the order. When on, Jennings shows a blend of speed and power that is rarely seen in unison. When off, he expands his zone leading to a drop off in on-base percentage and stolen base opportunities. He plays an easy, quiet center field making B.J. Upton‘s defense an afterthought.

Wil Myers: The big chip in the James Shields trade initially struggled in Triple-A before making mechanical and mental adjustments that accelerated his promotion. Myers only added to his hype with home-run heroics upon his mid-June call-up. As advertised he has shown both top-shelf power and swing-and-miss cuts. That said don’t confuse the whiffs for lack of discipline. He uses all fields and has successfully navigated past his first major league-mini slump. A fluid runner on the bases, he has had little issue on defense as a big league outfielder.

Sean Rodriguez: Once the Rays primary shortstop, Rodriguez has transitioned from a middle infielder to a corner man. He has played first base, left field, or right field in 41 of 51 games. Despite the shift in responsibilities, he remains an above-average defender and a good runner. He is showing more discipline at the plate, but is still a bit below average with a continued favoritism for left-handed pitching.

Kelly Johnson: Much like Rodriguez, Johnson has abandoned his traditional post in the middle infield for new positions. He has primarily played left field this season, a position he went seven years between appearances. Aside from left, he made his major league debut at first and third base. Not known for his athleticism, he has played well at all positions asked. Offensively, he has made a few mechanical adjustments, but the overall result is mostly the same. He ends the first half with a .761 OPS compared to a .767 career mark.

Sam Fuld: Fuld remains the ideal 25th man for the Rays. Although he provides little at the plate, he earns his keep with his legs as a late inning-pinch runner and as the only other true center fielder on the 40-man roster. At some point Fuld’s salary will surpass his skill-set, but for now he is comfortable in his role.

Luke Scott: Although he has played just three games in the outfield in 2013, they may be three of the more important appearances of anyone in the field for the Rays this season. A noted emotional player, Scott wears his slumps on his sleeve. He had just seven extra-base hits in his first 134 plate appearances of the season. Rays’ manager Joe Maddon inserted him in left field for three days in June (14-16) in an apparent attempt to get his mind off his struggles at the plate. Along with some mechanical adjustments, he owns a 1.094 OPS with 14 extra-base hits in the 23 games since he played the field. Mental Maddon(ess) at work.

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