The Rays Outfield

In the recent past, the Rays have played a lot of mix and match with their outfielders. This year, the starting three might have a firm grasp on everyday starts, so there could be less scope for useful fantasy platoons. In the event of injuries, the Rays possess a number of secondary options that could be useful as spot starters.

The Starters
Desmond Jennings
Wil Myers
David DeJesus

Jennings is a player whose 5×5 value probably exceeds his real world offensive output. By delivering 30 home runs plus stolen bases and batting at the top of the lineup, he offers strong output in three to four categories. A low line drive percentage has prevented him from parlaying his speed into a high BABIP. If he manages to strike the ball a little more squarely, a three percent increase in hits and a little extra power could follow. It’s a modest projection for a breakout, but it’s one of the better gambles around the league if you’re going to bet on a player becoming more than he is now.

It’s much trickier to project Myers as there’s such a wide range of believable outcomes with him. Projection systems uniformly peg him for over 20 home runs and a shade under 10 steals. Those numbers smell reasonable. Last season he delivered five category production in a partial season. In 2014, his run and RBI totals will depend on his eventual home in the lineup, and his average is likely to decline due to a .362 BABIP. I’ll be watching his swinging strike rate closely in the early going. If he begins to make contact more frequently, then I’ll be a lot more bullish about a breakout. My personal plan is to let someone else spend the money on draft day and then buy high if he’s showing signs of improvement.

DeJesus is a limited option who’s much better against righties than lefties. Last season, his platoon split was extreme, but over his career it’s not quite as crazy. Still, his wRC+ is 40 points higher against right-handed pitching. For fantasy purposes, he’s best used as a platoon hitter or spot starter. He’ll probably bat near the bottom of the lineup and offers slightly below average production across all five categories. That’s valuable when filling in for injuries, but not something to target.

Secondary Options
Logan Forsythe
Ben Zobrist
Sean Rodriguez
Matt Joyce
Brandon Guyer
Kevin Kiermaier

Let’s gloss over Zobrist since he’ll probably spend the full season in the infield. He still has that glorious 2B, SS, OF eligibility in Yahoo, which makes him an excellent fantasy platoon option who contributes to four or five categories. Yum. He almost always costs more than his offensive production should entail, but that kind of utility can make or break a draft (or a season).

Forsythe and Rodriguez may platoon with DeJesus. At this point, I can’t predict if either player will receive regular playing time. Rodriguez offers a bit of pop while Forsythe could contribute over 20 home runs plus steals with 600 plate appearances (he won’t get them). If you’re a daily tinkerer like me, then either player could be a good source of plate appearances and position flexibility. Most owners can ignore them.

Joyce will probably form a platoon as the club’s designated hitter, although he may see the role full time. Currently, there aren’t really any obvious candidates to oust him from reps against left-handed pitching, although he has a piddling career wRC+ of 67 against same-handed pitchers. I fully expect the Rays to bring in a right-handed bat to share duties with him. Remember, DeJesus should be platooned too.

Guyer has a nice little combination of power and speed that might make him the right-handed compliment to DeJesus and Joyce. However, he’s struggled in two short auditions at the major league level. In the minors, he’s shown a bit of pop and the ability to steal over 20 bases in a full season. If playing time opens up, he could be a stealthy waiver wire acquisition.

I honestly don’t know anything about Kiermaier except that he’s the backup center fielder on our depth charts page. His stats don’t indicate any fantasy utility. It appears he lacks power and can swipe the occasional base. Offensively, Craig Gentry is probably a very best case scenario, but I say that without having seen him play.



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jim S.
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jim S.

DeJesus will likely lead off against right-handers. Joe likes Desmond hitting 6th or 7th.

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