Sunday, July 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Never Budge: Missing out on Brandon Guyer's incredible run at baseball history

When the Rays traded Brandon Guyer to the Cleveland Indians on Monday, they didn't just lose a part-time outfielder. They traded a man in quiet pursuit of baseball immortality.

In Tampa Bay, we have been witnesses since 2011. Now we'll have to watch from afar.

Those of us who have followed Guyer haven't been so much interested in how hard he hit the ball or how far he hit it. No, we appreciated him for how many times he got hit by it, how he kept coming back for more and how he never, ever budged.

As a Ray, Guyer stepped into the batter's box 978 times, and 58 times he was hit by a pitch.

That's once every 17 plate appearances — by far the highest rate in major-league history.

Usually, he simply stood and let the ball hit him. On occasion, he started to twist ever so slightly, if only to give the appearance that he was trying to get out of the way.

"I've never seen anybody do it better," Rays television analyst Brian Anderson said.

That's because no one has done it better. Not Ron Hunt. Not Don Baylor. Not Craig Biggio.

This season, Guyer has been hit more frequently than ever — once every 11 plate appearances. On Saturday, in just his ninth plate appearance in an Indians uniform, he recorded his 24th hit by pitch, the most in the majors.

At his current pace, Guyer will approach Don Baylor's 1986 American League record of 35 HBPs. But Baylor, the league MVP in 1979, played every inning, every day. He got to 35 in 679 plate appearances. Guyer, who missed a month because of a hamstring injury, could get there in 380.

He has been hit at least four times as much as anyone else on the Rays. He has been hit more than the rest of the Rays combined. He has been hit more often than the Milwaukee Brewers roster. He is tied with his new team in Cleveland.

Twenty-five times he has been hit by a pitch traveling at least 90 mph. He has been hit seven times in the elbow. Fifteen times in the thigh. Seven times in the knee.

If you sit in the same dugout as Guyer, his extremely literal interpretation of "taking one for the team" is admirable. Asked about his friend and former teammate, Chris Archer brought it up unprompted.

"Every day he comes ready to play, ready to play hard," he said. That Guyer has been hit so much more than anybody else "just tells you the type of player he is."

If you're in the other dugout, it's an annoyance. Back in April, the Red Sox protested when Guyer caught inside pitches with his body three times. Early in the game, manager John Farrell argued that Guyer made little effort to get out of the way. Later, David Price, in disbelief after a 94 mph cut fastball struck Guyer on the elbow, yelled, "That's right over the plate."

Replays show the ball was just off the plate. It could've been a ball. It could've been strike three. Instead, a grimacing Guyer took his base. Soon after, Price came undone, and Farrell pulled him from the game.

Guyer has firmly denied that he tries to get hit. But on the day he was traded, he leaned as close to an admission as he ever has, telling FanGraphs, "I'm just trying to get on for the big boppers behind me. I'll take one for the team any day."

By hitting or getting hit, Guyer absolutely torments left-handed pitchers (when facing them this season, he has reached base half the time). In general, though, he doesn't hit for much power and he rarely walks, so getting hit by pitches is how he stays in the lineup. Take away his 24 bases on bruises this season and his on-base percentage drops from .357 to .291.

After that April day at Fenway, you'd think that when Price and Guyer met again in July, Price would take extra care to not hit Guyer. But the first time Guyer came to bat, Price refused to cede the inside part of the plate.

As the 2-and-2 pitch left Price's hand, Guyer took his usual stride and planted his foot on the chalk of the batter's box, leaving his opponent no room for error.

It is in moments like this you realize why he can be so compelling to watch. Many would stay as far away as possible from a 95 mph fastball. Guyer stands in there, again and again and again.

The pitch glanced off his belt. He tossed his bat, put his head down and jogged to first.

We've seen it dozens of times. He'll be hit dozens more.

Too bad it won't be in a Rays uniform.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

Comments
Rays journal: Wilson Ramos will miss All-Star Game

Rays journal: Wilson Ramos will miss All-Star Game

MINNEAPOLIS — C Wilson Ramos had been so looking forward to starting Tuesday's All-Star Game in Washington, where he played seven seasons and, depending on the latest rumor, could be returning via trade.But he lost that opportunity Saturday, wi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays’ Blake Snell: This is how a Star is born

Rays’ Blake Snell: This is how a Star is born

MINNEAPOLIS — Blake Snell didn't know where he was headed at this time last year.Having made a couple of unimpressive starts after rejoining the Rays following a six-week demotion to Triple A he earned with a brutal beginning to what was suppos...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Rays roar back to blast Twins 19-6

Rays roar back to blast Twins 19-6

MINNEAPOLIS – There was a time late Saturday afternoon when things actually looked bad for the Rays in what turned out to be a very good day, a 19-6 victory that ensured a winning record at the All-Star break.Tampa Bay had given back an early l...
Published: 07/14/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Twins game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Twins game

As offensively challenged as the Rays have been much of this season, Saturday was the fifth time in their past 11 games they have scored eight or more runs. The reality check: All against the Marlins, Mets, Tigers and Twins.OF Carlos Gomez hasn't had...
Published: 07/14/18
UPDATE: Rays C Wilson Ramos out of All-Star Game due to hamstring injury

UPDATE: Rays C Wilson Ramos out of All-Star Game due to hamstring injury

UPDATE. 6:45: Ramos said he will not be able to play in the All-Star Game and will be removed from the active roster but still plans to attend and take part in the festivities.He also said he "probably" will end up on the DL, which will cause the Ray...
Published: 07/14/18
For starters: Rays at Twins, looking to Archer for help

For starters: Rays at Twins, looking to Archer for help

UPDATE, 12:27: Cash said  Archer should be "pretty close to full go" pitch-count wise, as they him to have a good start. …Robertson is "in a little bit of a funk" at the plate, specifically in pitch recognition, Cash said, as he is 0-for-h...
Published: 07/14/18
Rays Tales: Picking the first-half MVP for ‘the most interesting team in baseball’

Rays Tales: Picking the first-half MVP for ‘the most interesting team in baseball’

MINNEAPOLIS — We'll start with some free advice for the Rays marketing folks: Find a way to play off those old Dos Equis beer commercials and pitch this squad as the "most interesting team in baseball."Between the innovative, odd and still-hard...
Published: 07/14/18
Rays-Twins: A look at Saturday’s 2:10 p.m. game at Target Field

Rays-Twins: A look at Saturday’s 2:10 p.m. game at Target Field

MINNEAPOLIS — Here's a look at Saturday's afternoon game between the Rays and Twins:When/Where: 2:10, Target FieldTV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)RELATED: More Rays coverageProbable pitchersRays: RH Chris Archer (3-4, 4.4...
Published: 07/14/18
Rays journal: Pitching drops the ball in 11-8 loss

Rays journal: Pitching drops the ball in 11-8 loss

MINNEAPOLIS — The seven runs the Rays rallied for in the third through sixth innings Friday normally would be enough for something good.But not as bad as the Rays pitched in what ended up an ugly 11-8 loss to the Twins.RHP Nathan Eovaldi, who w...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/14/18
Blake Snell will join All-Star pitching staff

Blake Snell will join All-Star pitching staff

MINNEAPOLIS — The conversation took place a month or so ago, when Dave Snell told his son Blake he had bought a plane ticket from Seattle to Washington, D.C., for All-Star week in anticipation of seeing him there."I told him to shut up,'' his s...
Published: 07/13/18