The Rays just put week 1 in the books with a 4-2 record. This week featured a happy reunion, some good first impressions, and others with a week they'd rather forget. What are your impressions after week 1? Listed below are some players who started out with a bang and others who barely fizzled.
Carlos Pena: You had me at Grand Slam. Pena began his year with a bang, against a LHP no less. And he hasn't stopped hitting. The power and the walks were the reason why the Rays were willing to bring him back. But a willingness to hit the ball the other way could be a big help to his batting average. Hopefully this isn't a one week trend.
Fernando Rodney: Another team's junk is the Rays treasure. Rays are the best at taking castoff bullpen arms and turning them into late inning gems. Three saves and a win and Rodney has already endeared himself to his new team and fans. With Peralta struggling a bit out of the gate and Farnsworth on the DL, Rodney has come up big for the Rays when they've needed him the most so far. I'll be very curious to see this bullpen when they are fully healthy and Farnsworth and Gomes return.
Evan Longoria: Longoria has picked up right where he left off last year. MLB's leading RBI man since last June, Longoria is hitting for average, power, and has more walks than strikeouts. With some in the media predicting an MVP season for the Rays third baseman, his first week has done nothing to slow down high hopes.
Jake McGee: As others have noted, McGee had success last year with his slider. But for whatever reason, this year he's turned into a one-pitch pony. If McGee can't/won't throw that slider or at least develop a change up that can keep hitters honest, he's a LOOGY at best this year. Problem is, that's not how Maddon has used him to begin the year.
Jose Molina: A lot of talk has been mentioned about Molina's ability to frame pitches. One of the things Rays fans have seen to begin the year is his inability to block pitches. Molina's struggles have already cost the Rays a couple runs in the first week. It's easy for fans to overlook this when it's matched with a good bat or something positive they can clearly see. Framing is more of an behind-the-scenes skill that won't be appreciated by the average fan. I'd be willing to bet that Molina ends up as one of the most underrated players on this year's team.
Injuries: Finding a third player for this list was tough. You could make the case for Sean Rodriguez or Matt Joyce, but both are playing more due to injuries. Joyce is still above average vs RHP. Rodriguez is the same with LHP. Rodriguez has also impressed this week with his defense at SS. But the Rays as a whole have suffered from injuries to B.J. Upton and Luke Scott offensively and the bullpen is without Kyle Farnsworth and Brandon Gomes. I think any Rays fan has to be excited by how this team will look once it's at full strength.
These are my observations of week one. What are yours?