In his still relatively young career, Brandon Guyer has been heavily platooned, and it makes sense why. He has hit left-handed pitching to a respectable .271/.356/.438 with a 128 wRC+ in 380 career plate appearances, but in 335 attempts against righties, his line falls to .250/.315/.347 with a 91 wRC+.
Overall, he has a .261/.337/.394 with a 111 wRC+ , but what would Guyer look like as a regular?
Hitting-wise, Guyer has improved against right handed pitching this year, not showing much power but still batting a decent .264/.327/.364 with a 97 wRC+ against them. He has also continued strong against lefties, hitting to the tune of .269/.377/.456 with a 138 wRC+. Overall, his .267/.356/.416 triple slash and 121 wRC+ are solid numbers, but, of course, that does come with a disclaimer given that only 42 percent of his plate appearances this year have come against RHP, compared to 58 percent against LHP.
If Guyer were to become a regular, obviously he would have more plate appearances against righties, so what would his stat line look like if he did just that?
The Rays as a team have seen about 70 percent of their plate appearances come against right handers and 30 percent against south paws. If you adjust Guyer's line to where 70 percent of his PA's came against righties and 30 percent against lefties, he still would be hitting .266/.342/.392 this season. (Editor's note: that's better than Jennings!)
That's not quite his current numbers, but solid enough, especially considering his on-base skills are remain intact against righties. With that line, Guyer would have a .734 OPS, which would place him 66th among outfielders with more than 200 PA's this season.
If you use the logic that there are "only" 90 starting outfield positions in Major League Baseball (not quite true given platoons, but we'll go with it), then from a pure hitting standpoint, Guyer would be good enough to be a mid-to-low-end starting outfielder from a pure hitting standpoint.
Of course, he is also a solid defender.
Guyer makes a diving stop in left field -- Kim Klement, USA TODAY
Defense is what helps Guyer provide value if he were to play against all types of pitching on a consistent basis.
For his career, he has posted an 11.5 UZR and 14.0 UZR/150. In fact, if you look at UZR/150 among outfielders with at least 1000 innings played over the last two seasons, his 9.7 mark is good for 20th in baseball out of 104 qualified outfielders.
Defensive runs saved is not as bullish on Guyer but still says he has saved three runs above a league-average defender across his young career.
Versatility is also a factor in his defensive value, as Guyer can be deployed at all three outfield spots. While left field suites him best and he has seen most of his time there (852.2 innings), he has still played 195 innings in center and 303.1 innings in right field. UZR/150 rates him best in left (14.4), but it also shows he can provide value in center (9.0) and right (12.5), though the latter two numbers should be taken with a grain of salt given small sample size.
So is Brandon Guyer the future of the Rays in left field?
The point of this article is not to convince you that Brandon Guyer should be starting everyday for the Rays. With the presence of Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr., there simply will not be enough playing time for him to do so barring a trade. Then again, that might just be what is destined for the current left fielder.
Either way, it is logical for the Rays to give more and more playing time to Guyer, rather than keeping him in a strict platoon -- something the Rays have done as of late.
Since the July 28th trade of David DeJesus, Guyer has appeared in 48 of 55 Rays games (87.3 percent) and has started in 30 (54.5 percent). He appeared in 75.2 percent of games prior to DeJesus's departure, but started only 45.5 percent of games.
The Rays clearly trusted him, and Guyer did not disappoint. He has blossomed into hitting .282/.361/.473 since July 28th, better than any of our previous small sample sizes. But when it comes to weaknesses that would prevent him from starting, Brandon Guyer might just be breaking his platoon mold. He has shown he can be passable on offense against right-handed pitching, while providing plenty of value through defense and continuing his ability to hit southpaws.
Looking ahead to next season, the Rays should not shy away from using the versatility of Guyer to their advantage.
If an injury comes up, he can handle an everyday role, and if not, he can still get consistent reps in all three outfield spots. No matter what happens, Guyer has proven he is a valuable player for the Rays, and if the team ever needs it, they should rest easy knowing he would be a capable-enough player in a regular role. That is a perfect fourth outfielder if I've ever seen one, and a passable starter given the Tampa Bay Rays' standards.