As we continue our leisurely stroll through the depth charts, we find ourselves in Tampa Bay where the Rays outfield is looking awfully similar to the 2012 version. Same names, same faces, but with one minor exception. Whether it’s May or June or even after the All Star Break, the Rays will likely make a change that should provide them with a substantial power boost. The wait could finally be over. He’ll be here soon.
As always, let me begin with a look at the team’s current depth chart…
|Starter||Back-Up||Reserve||Waiting in the Wings|
|Left Field:||Matt Joyce||Sam Fuld||Stephen Vogt||Wil Myers|
|Center Field:||Desmond Jennings||Sam Fuld|
|Right Field:||Ben Zobrist||Brandon Guyer|
Left Field: Joyce put together a solid season last year, playing in a career-best 141 games while finishing the year batting .277 with 19 home runs and 13 stolen bases. For fantasy purposes, that’s pretty darn good for someone who was likely your fifth or even sixth outfielder. If only he could learn to hit lefties. And that is what should eventually move him to more of a fourth outfielder/lefty bat off the bench type of role. After an offseason deal that saw them ship out James Shields and Wade Davis, the Rays are now the proud owners of one of baseball’s best hitting prospects, Wil Myers. In typical Rays fashion, he will open the year in Triple-A and come up sometime after May first, depending on how badly he is punishing Triple-A pitching. He smacked 37 home runs between Double and Triple-A last year but unfortunately struck out almost 25-percent of the time. That could be a bigger problem up in the bigs, but should he maintain his power numbers, you’ll easily be able to tolerate the whiffs.
Center Field: Jennings put together a solid first full season last year and should actually build off its success this season. Strikeouts are a bit of an issues, but he’s got 15-20 home run potential with the possibility of 40-odd stolen bases, so just as we tolerated from his predecessor, B.J. Upton, we’ll suffer through a .260 average so long as we get big boosts in the counting stats. Should he reach the totals that Bill James projected for him this season, fantasy owners will be plenty happy with the final tally this year.
Right Field: With the addition of Kelly Johnson to the infield, Zobrist should spend nearly his entire season out in right field. While that may be fine for this season, the odds of him losing eligibility at second base and shortstop become a lot greater which, for lack of a better way to put it, sucks for next year. We’ll cross that bridge once we get to it though as this year, his multi-position eligibility plays an enormous role in his overall fantasy value. A guy with 20-15 or even 20-20 potential is great, but to have that right now at second base or shortstop is significantly better.
Sam Fuld — Good speed and sound defense, but similarly to the guy blocking him at the position, he struggles against left-handed pitching. Should he get some significant playing time at all he’ll be a nice source of cheap steals, but he won’t offer you anything in the way of power.
Brandon Guyer — Season ending shoulder surgery last May wiped out all of 2012 for Guyer, so how well he does this year is based entirely on how well his shoulder has healed. He’s a pretty good defender when healthy, but he’s also got options left which means he’ll likely be wearing a Triple-A jersey this year with sporadic call-ups should the team need.
Stephen Vogt — Organizational depth. That’s about it.