Category Archives: Rays

It’s a numbers game

After eight years of waiting, and some 3,710 minor league at-bats, Rich Thompson made his way back to the majors. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

McGILLIGAN: Baseball is a game of numbers.

Often times it’s the numbers we look to for an explanation as to why a play happened or who is best suited to pitch or hit in a given scenario.

We use numbers to determine greatness, justify rooting for one player over another or as a way to delve even deeper into a game we love and will never stop calculating.

Sometimes the numbers reveal something you never thought they could. Take for instance 2,944 and 3,710.

Heading into play on Wednesday night, those numbers were a representation of the perseverance and dedication it took Rich Thompson of the Tampa Bay Rays to get back to the major leagues after his first and only plate appearance on April 20, 2004 with the Kansas City Royals.

2,944 was the numbers days between his major league appearances which officially ended when Thompson pinch ran for Luke Scott in the Rays 2-1 win against the Boston Red Sox.

3,710 was the number of minor league at-bats he took before returning to MLB.

A great story to be sure, but one that got even better Thursday with two smaller numbers – 1 and 2. In Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Red Sox, Thompson was in the starting lineup and hit ninth for the Rays. In his second plate appearance in the fourth inning, Thompson singled for his first major league hit and RBI as Sean Rodriguez scored on the play. But Thompson wasn’t done, he made the most of his time on the base paths by stealing both second and third base in the inning.

Of all the numbers used in baseball, it’s hard to imagine any combination could have summed up Thompson’s effort on Thursday.

Now he’s got a new number to worry about, extending his major league hitting streak to two games.

(NOTE: the numbers 2,944 and 3,710 are courtesy of an article on Yahoo! Sports by Kevin Kaduk)

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Jays line-up needs a shake-up

Like last season, Adam Lind looks lost at the plate. Time to mix it up in the Jays line-up?

STRADER: I love the guy. I do.

He seems like he’d be your best friend. His wife is Canadian. He loves the city. And I do love his swing.

But it’s enough already.

It’s time to move Adam Lind down in the lineup.

The vultures are circling Jose Bautista, and I understand why. The lack of 3-4 power is getting sooooooo frustrating.

But Joey Bats can’t move. He can go from the third hole to the fourth, I don’t mind that, but in my opinion he’s still one of the most intimidating bats in the league, we’re still seeing him intentionally walked, and he’s clearly pressing. He’ll break out.

But Adam Lind, yick. Besides 26 HR’s in a shortened season last year, he isn’t performing like a clean up hitter. His OPS against righties has hovered around .750 for three seasons now, and he struggles against lefties. That simply isn’t good enough for a clean up hitter in the AL East. I don’t want to see the kid given up on. I think he’s going to win a gold glove at first in the future, but I wouldn’t push for Lyle Overbay to be the clean up hitter in the AL East, would you?

Somebody on the team is seeing the ball well.

Somebody had an unbelievable 2.300 OPS against the Seattle Mariners.

Somebody is looking like the natural hitting machine you want in the RBI position.

That guy, is Edwin Encarnacion.

Sing it Nacho…

When the fantasy has ended
And all the children are gone
Something good inside me,
Helps me to carry on!

I ate some bugs,
I ate some grass,
I used my hand,
To wipe my tears

To kiss your mouth
I break my vow
No no no, no no, no WAY JOSE
Unless you want to
Then we break our vows together

Encarnacio-hooooon
Encarnacio-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-hon
Encarnacion
*Diduliduliluli!*

Encarnacio-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-hon
They are ready for you now.

Farrell has reportedly said it’s going to take 100 at bats for him to make any drastic lineup changes. So we have approximately two more weeks to wait and see if he’s fed up. I am.

So, here is what I would propose.

 

1.     Rasmus (yes, Johnson walks more, but I think Rasmus has the ability to if given the responsibility, and I want speed at the top. Real speed. Triples, steals, etc.)

2.     Escobar (He’s struggling, no doubt, and I think the ability that Hecchevarria showed in the spring might be in this guy’s head, but being in the two-hole, being asked to hit and run, bunt, move guys over, might get his bat going)

3.     Bautista (I still have to believe he’s the best bat on the team)

4.     Encarnacion (.323, .381, .667, 1.048, 8 2B, 8 HR, 21 RBI – we don’t even really need to discuss this, do we?)

5.     Johnson (He’s got pop, I want to see it utilized.)

6.     Lind (Maybe 7, ‘cause Lawrie looks amazing, but let’s still give him a prominent role before we bury him)

7.     Lawrie (I expect a response from Livingstone about seeing him third. But in my opinion, he’s 21, I want to see him brought up slowly)

8.     Thames (He’s hitting, but he still doesn’t look like a scary superstar to me)

9.     Arencibia (And I’m sorry JP, but Mathis looks like he’s finally figured out his major league bat, and was a very highly touted prospect himself, so my one note here is I’d like to see Jeff a little more often right now. Maybe twice a week)

That’s what I think Jays fans. Let me know what you think.

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Andre Ethier and Matt Joyce two big surprises in young season

Andre Ethier is benefiting from Matt Kemp's Superman start to the season - and if it continues, he could be one of the biggest surprises of the season come September.

McGILLIGAN: This season has been full of surprises. It’s May and the Baltimore Orioles are still playing well, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim look terrible and none of the early season favourites – the exception being the Texas Rangers – look like the teams everyone expected them to be.

I know it’s early, but here are two players having surprising seasons that aren’t getting a lot of talk for different reasons.

The first is outfielder Andre Ethier. While he’s a been a solid major leaguer for several years, he’s off to a great start in 2012. While his solid play is not shocking, the tiny amount of fanfare its received is.

With Matt Kemp playing like Clark Kent’s alter ego, Ethier has been in the shadows hitting in the slot behind Kemp. Ethier is benefiting from Kemp’s great start, but has also played an intricate role in it. His ability to drive in runs means pitchers simply can’t intentionally walk Kemp because Ethier will burn them. His average with runners in scoring position this season is .391. He’s also amassed the National League’s second most RBI with 24, just one behind Kemp.

Ethier is on pace to break his personal best season of 2009 when he lit up NL pitching with a .272 batting average, 31 home runs and 106 RBI.  If it weren’t for the all-world numbers of Kemp, it’s likely more people would be raving about Ethier’s play.

If the Dodgers keep on winning, is possible the Kemp-Ethier combination might become the most formidable in NL and MLB this season.

The second surprising start of the year is outfielder Matt Joyce of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Hitting .294 with five homeruns and 9 RBI, Joyce has been a revelation in Tampa. Having never got a chance for a full season of steady at bats, Joyce mashed the ball when he got his opportunity this season. However, the return of BJ Upton to the lineup and Joyce’s career struggles against left-handing pitching will see him ride the pine when the Rays face a southpaw.

Far be it for me to question Joe Maddon, the guy is one of the best managers in the game, but how does a guy ever get better at hitting left-handers if he doesn’t face them. Joyce’s career numbers are not good versus lefties (.198 in 162 at bats). But he’s only faced a lefty in 15 percent of MLB at bats.

The Rays have a potential break out star on their hands, maybe an everyday outfielder in the making, but he won’t get to that stage without letting him learn against MLB-calibre left-handers.

*All numbers current as of 8 a.m. EST

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