Okay, now on to Kapler.
I was (am) a fan of the signing, but good heavens sometimes you just can't know everything about a player until you see him - this sounds like an anti-stat rant introduction - and Kapler is one of those players. It has little to do with his actual performance, but rather the aesthetics and minor gaffes that are driving me insane.
Unlike the image of a plus defensive outfielder, Kapler always appears lost. Whether this is by intention or not it still creates those tense moments when you're not sure if he's going to catch the ball or lost it in the sky. I can live with this and it's the most minor of beefs against the guy. It does lead to my overlying point though, and that is that I can totally see why certain segments of fanbases absolutely love the guy.
It always looks like he's trying 140% on whatever it is he's doing. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It's just a bit oddly placed. Kapler is certainly naturally talented, and he doesn't really project as someone who puts those "gritty" vibes out, but so he does apparently. Of course, the appearance of the whole thing alone would be fine but when compounded with the baserunning errors, it gets escalated to the point of ridiculousness.
Please note that I'm not at all saying Kapler is a worse player or somehow less valuable, I'm just saying I had no idea he was so...fidgety.
Kapler is always thinking and tries hard. That's evident. Yet, for every play that displays Kapler's raw athleticism and willingness to go all out, he makes another one moments later that leave you in disbelief and the team in worse shape. The phrase that comes to mind is reckless abandon. Some take that as a compliment, which is exactly why he got cheers for Boston. Unfortunately, I don't entirely mean it as such.
Take yesterday as the perfect example of how bi-polar his play is. Leadoff double thanks to his hustle out of the box and aggressiveness rounding first. Good, that's worth 0.067 WPA. Michel Hernandez grounds out to first, okay, and wait...there goes Kapler darting to third and...he's out. Although it didn't appear he was actually tagged, the result was a loss of 0.064 WPA and took the Rays run expectancy from 1.06 on the previous play down to 0.13. That split second decision to try and make something happen costs the Rays nearly an entire run.
Look at the third game of the season versus Boston. A stolen base on a beautiful slide followed up by the blooper play. Or the game when Kapler was tagged halfway home on a ball that never left the infield. Kapler's not alone in making mistakes on the basepaths, but his are amongst the ones that stand out the most.
So the gaffes are going to add up eventually, but they won't detract completely from his value. And if he would've reached third successfully, the Rays expected runs total raises to... 1 run. Yep, that groundout actually outweighs the base gained.
Hopefully Kapler takes smarter risks as the season progresses.