Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays Tales: Myers' rookie of year chances

Wil Myers didn't need much time after his June 18 debut to establish himself as one of the top rookies in the American League, quickly showing there is no question he has the five-plus tool ability that led the Rays to trade so much for him. But does he have enough time to win the AL rookie of the year award? In what is something of a lackluster year leaguewide for rookies, Myers certainly has the talent, skills and production to be one of the leading candidates — with teammate RHP Chris Archer among the others — and continuing to put up big numbers while playing in meaningful games in the high-profile AL East race will provide a stage to show off for voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "He's as good as anyone I've seen," ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analyst John Kruk said. But Myers' bigger opponent could be the calendar.

On Saturday, Myers played in his 43rd game. The Rays have 47 left, and assuming no injuries and just a day or two off the rest of the way, he will end up playing 87-88 games and getting around 325-350 at-bats.

In an informal and highly unscientific poll of a dozen BBWAA members over the weekend, that does not appear to be an issue.

In a simple and direct poll of Rays manager Joe Maddon, it should not be.

"Yes, definitely, absolutely there's enough time to win rookie of the year," Maddon said. "No doubt."

Maddon's logic is based on the eligibility rules: The cutoff to maintain rookie status is to not get 130 at-bats, or pitch 50 innings, so that to get more than 300 at-bats should be plenty.

The Bovada online gambling site apparently agrees, setting Myers as the 1-3 favorite to win the award, and any other player at 2-1.

Myers, as you would expect, hasn't given it much thought if he'd have a shot. "I don't know, maybe, who knows," he said. "That's not my area. Hopefully I play well enough to get in the talk for it."

But if he did win? "That'd be cool, absolutely."

If Myers were to win, it would be somewhat historic, in a parochial sense, in that no position player has ever won the AL rookie of the year award playing in fewer than 100 games, not even in the strike-shortened 1994 season. (The only AL position player in the past 40 years to win it with fewer than 130 games was the Rays' Evan Longoria, with 122 in 2008.)

However, it has happened three times in the National League — most recently in 2005, when Philadelphia's Ryan Howard won playing in 88. And most impressively in 1959, when San Francisco's Willie McCovey won playing in only 52 (of 154) games, hitting .354 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs.

Here is a look at how Myers stacks up against the field (all stats through Friday, with rank among AL rookies where available):

Wil Myers, OF, Rays

G: 42

Avg.: .340 (1)

HRs: 8 (T4)

RBI: 30 (2)

OPS: .923 (1)

Chances: At this point, he looks like the frontrunner, impressing not only with his numbers on the field but how he has done it.

Jose Iglesias, INF, Tigers

G: 70

Avg.: .318 (2)

HRs: 2

RBI: 22 (9)

OPS: .762 (2)

Chances: Probably the next best candidate after Myers, could get the votes from those who don't think Myers played enough.

Chris Archer, RHP, Rays

Starts: 13 (4)

W: 6 (T2)

ERA: 2.71 (1)

Avg.: .204 (1)

K: 52 (4)

Chances: Has the best overall numbers among the pitchers, but that might not be enough; getting to 10 wins could be a key.

Dan Straily, RHP, A's

Starts: 18 (1)

W: 6 (T2)

ERA: 4.41 (3)

Avg.: .240 (2)

K: 80 (1)

Chances: Having a solid year on a good team, but the ERA is probably too high for serious consideration.

Nick Franklin, INF, Mariners

G: 60

Avg.: .246 (8)

HRs: 10 (1)

RBI: 34 (1)

OPS: .752 (3)

Chances: Having a decent year, especially power-wise, for a bad team, but would need a big finish.

David Lough, OF, Royals

G: 64

Avg.: .298 (3)

HRs: 4 (T7)

RBI: 25 (7)

OPS: .748 (4)

Chances: Interesting he's in the race against Myers in part because Myers got traded from Royals to Rays.

Other names worth mentioning: INF Conor Gillaspie, White Sox; OF Aaron Hicks, Twins; OF J.B. Shuck, Angels

Rays Rumblings

Former Rays OF, and current consultant, Gabe Kapler was hired by the Fox Sports 1 Network as an analyst. … The Rays catch a huge break this week, not facing either Mariners ace, Hisashi Iwakuma or Felix Hernandez. … Myers didn't know he had asthma until playing in the Arizona Fall League in 2011; that'd be quite a problem had he been drafted or acquired by the D'backs. … Rather than sponsored soda bottles, the D'backs do an in-game "race" among characters repping team legends Luis Gonzalez, Mark Grace, Randy Johnson and Matt Williams. Suggestions for the Rays to try? … Impressed by Netherlands-born Arizona SS Didi Gregorius, Rays manager Joe Maddon noted, "I did clinics there in the mid '90s, maybe I had an influence on him."

Got a minute? Jason Bourgeois

Best meal you can make? Breakfast — pancakes, egg whites and grits with a little chicken or turkey sausage.

Must-see TV? Martin reruns never get old.

Band/singer you'd like to be on stage with? Jay-Z, he moves the crowd. Just to feel that vibe for a couple minutes would be nice.

Favorite movie? That's always a tough one but I'd say Gladiator.

Dream vacation spot? Actually, I'm going to one of them, Bora-Bora, for my honeymoon.

     
       
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