He doesn't have the birth defect of being born short, nor the clutchness, and I do mean clutchness or being great, but Brendan Harris has something others don't, well okay he doesn't, but he's still having a great season.
Eighth in OBP and SLG, seventh in BA, 11th in homeruns amongst shortstops, Brendan Harris has come from seemingly nowhere. No longer is he 'Reid Brignac's place holder' although, to be sure nobody expects him to hold onto the job past next year's All-Star break at the latest, of course nobody expected Brendan to be on the team, not along the starting shortstop when he was dealt for in January.
Carlos Pena was amongst the last cuts in spring training, only to return the next day as Greg Norton suffered an injury. Pena said he had envisioned becoming the Rays' starting 1B, apparently he's Nostradamus. Pena leads all first basemen, including Prince Fielder, in SLG%, ninth in OBP, and his 14 homeruns are second in the AL to Justin Morneau. Not only is Carlos 'The Cat' charming fans with his towering homeruns, he's also been a class act off the field, constantly stating how thankful he is for the opportunity, I of course must question how sweet it would be for Carlos if his manager last season, Jim Leyland, the same man who helped release him, were to come calling for the All-Star game.
Harris and Pena combine with Iwamura and Upton to create one of the weirdest infield combinations that I can remember. Harris was once called the `next Pujols' by Baseball Prospectus, Pena was a Billy Beane guy, Iwamura is a Japanese star, and Upton was an uber-prospect from high school. At the end of the day they may not capture your heart like the famed Sandberg-Abernathy-Cox connection, otherwise known as `SAC', but by golly these guys are dominated the important thing, `STATS'.
Iwamura is still maintaining a .442 OBP, and an .899 OPS, Upton has a .396 OBP, and should be the AL All-Star's starting second basemen, but naturally since he plays in Tampa the casual fan will vote for Robinson `I have the best damn .311 OBP ever' Cano, even Placido Polanco's stats don't fully compare. What might be the most encouraging for Rays fans is for all the talk of the outfield, which has struggled for the most part, the infield, three-fourths of which aren't homegrown, have lead the team's offense, and even more delicious is the idea that things will only get better as Reid Brignac and Evan Longoria join the fray within the next two seasons.
Pena's under contract through 2009, Iwamura through 2010, Harris and Upton past 2011, there's a strong possibility that the foursome could become a mainstay by the bay, even if Upton moves to centerfield Longoria could slide into second or short.
Carlos Pena said he felt this year's team was a playoff contender, eight or so back of the wild card it would take an extended winning streak to gain quickly, although after his first prediction, I'm not about to doubt him.