Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times published his end of season review today. There...there are some things in it that need to be addressed. As always I'll preface my rant by saying beat writers have a hard job and it's not one I would like to do. They write a ton during the season and not everything is going to satisfy everyone. This is one of those times.
It starts off talking about the team MVP and mentions Kevin Kiermaier, Evan Longoria, and Chris Archer before settling on Logan Forsythe (more on him in a minute). The part about Kiermaier is what going to address.
"Kevin Kiermaier's play in centerfield was outstanding and breathtaking, and his improvements at the plate allowed him to become an everyday player."
Yes, Kiermaier is a good defender. Saying his improvements at the plate allowed him to become an everyday player is just flat out wrong. His averages the past two seasons are an identical .263 but his on-base percentage dropped from .315 to .298 and his slugging percentage dropped from .450 to .420. On the sabermetric side of things, his wOBA went from .333 to .309, wRC+ from 117 to 98 all while maintaining the same batting average on balls in play. He was worse at the plate in virtually every measure. His glove is what kept him in an everyday job.
On to Forsythe.
But if you are wont to define most valuable as the player who provided the most when the team needed it, given injuries and inconsistencies that stripped down the lineup, 2B Logan Forsythe is that man. You could say, much to the chagrin of the computer crowd, he earned those honors the old-fashioned way, going out every day, playing hard, playing well, doing whatever he could — both at the plate and in the field — to help the team.
He's a fine choice for team MVP. Nothing wrong with that pick at all. Having said that, what the hell does "much to the chagrin of the computer crowd" mean here? We in the "computer crowd" enjoy a player who plays hard and plays well. Who doesn't? Everyone should be thrilled to have a player like Forsythe on their favorite team. Is there another way in which a player can go about earning things that I'm not aware of?
Under "Most Surprising Rays" sits Brad Boxberger.
Sitting in Port Charlotte last spring, it would have been hard to imagine one much more unexpected than RHP Brad Boxberger going to the All-Star Game as one of the AL's top closers. But after establishing himself first as a full-time major-league reliever then a potentially dominant set-up man last year, Boxberger stepped into the vacant closer's job created by LHP Jake McGee's first-month absence and, even with some rough stretches and unhappy endings, led not just the Rays but the American League with 41 saves.
It's not a surprise when a dominant setup man turns out to be a good closer. It's been happening for as long as we've had closers. Sure, he lead the league in saves but his ten losses were two more than any other reliever and his six blown saves were tied for the second most in baseball.
Finally there's Curt Casali.
C Curt Casali: Didn't make the team out of spring, due in part to some roster manipulation, and didn't do much when he first came up in mid June. But given a chance to play regularly for a little more than a month before a hamstring strain, he showed enough — specifically 10 homers in 101 at-bats, a ratio of one per 10.1 that surpasses MLB leader Chris Davis' 12.51 — to be considered the starter going into spring.
Chris Davis is going to have over 570 at bats. Let's not pretend that Casali's little string of power hitting is even comparable to what Davis has done.