Matt Joyce got off to a blazing start for the Rays in 2011 hitting .370/.430/.636 (1.066 OPS) with 9 HR and 30 RBI over the first two months of the season. The next two months of the season weren't as kind as he hit .179/.234/.358 (OPS .591) with 6 HR and 19 RBI. The declining numbers were tied to a possible shoulder injury which required a cortisone shot (his second shot since January) and to natural regression after such a hot start to the season. In the midst of the June/July slump Joyce earned the nickname MOM to suggest that his numbers were built up primarily in the month of May. As fans we never really know an injury is affecting a player but based on Joyce's June and July numbers it may be safe to assume that the shoulder injury negatively affected his output.
Joyce seems to have turned a corner in August as he has hit .278/.381/.426 in 63 plate appearances. Overall, he is hitting .278/.344/.492 with 17 HR and 56 RBI and has a fWAR of 2.6, a wRC+ of 130, a wOBA of .359, and an ISO of .214. His 2011 season compares favorably to many other AL outfielders: his fWAR of 2.6 places him 12th, the wRC+ of 130 places him 8th, the wOBA of .359 places him 10th, and the .214 ISO ranks 10th. The black eye on Matt Joyce will continue to be his inability to play everyday as he struggles against left-handed pitching with a career slash line of .169/.261/.297 (.558 OPS) in 134 plate appearances.
As the summer has moved on and the Rays have slipped further down in the standings, it seems that Joyce's season is being lost somewhat in the trade rumor discussion involving B.J. Upton and James Shields, the callup and subsequent performance of Desmond Jennings, the discussion concerning why Ben Zobrist isn't discussed as a MVP candidate, the sudden resurgence of the long ball off the bat of Evan Longoria, and who from Durham deserves a September callup.
How good can Matt Joyce be in 2012? Will he see any time at first base? Will Joe Maddon look to garner extra at-bats versus right handed pitching by hitting him in the #2 position against right handed pitching?