With the All-Star break upon us, it is the most natural time for some looking backward and some looking forward. Let’s do a little of both.
Looking over the Rays first half stats, there are clearly some players who played a bit over their heads in the 90 games, as well as some players who got a bit unlucky. With that in mind, let’s see who the DRB readers believe and don’t believe in.
Here’s a brief rundown of the Rays first half stats sorted by what this writer thinks are the least likely to most likely first half stats to last through the second half. Make sure to make your voice heard and vote at the end of the article.
Tier 1: Probably going to regress (at least a bit)
17) Colby Rasmus: .281/.318/.579/.365/131
16) Brad Miller: .209/.355/.338/.308/93
15) Tim Beckham: .274/.327/.433/.326/105
14) Adeiny Hechavarria: .243/.256/.270/.229/39
13) Mallex Smith: .333/.403/.425/.363/130
12) Corey Dickerson: .312/.355/.548/.376/139
This tier has four players who have been playing above their talent levels (Rasmus, Beckham, Smith and Dickerson) and two players who have been unlucky (Miller and Hech). Of the group, Rasmus’ .281 average and .579 slug seem the least likely to last. No offense to Rasmus, but his average has never been that high for an entire season, and it has been just .224 over the past three seasons. Right now he’s rocking a .368 BABIP (not to mention a 28.1 percent HR/FB rate) that screams regression. Miller is almost the exact opposite, as he has seen his HR/FB rate plummet despite home runs leaving the yard at a borderline insane rate around the league in 2017. Miller is hitting the ball harder this season than he was last season by FanGraphs’ hard hit ball rate, so I’d be shocked to see him only leave the yard three times in the second half.
Beckham, Smith, and Dickerson aren’t fun names to see on this list, but all three have signs that their impressive production could slip a bit in the second half. Beckham’s plate discipline has shown no signs of improvement, and while he’s hitting the ball incredibly hard when he makes contact, his 2.0 percent infield pop up rate and 22.4 percent HR/FB rate seem likely to come back to the earth in the second half. Smith and Dickerson are both riding high BABIPs (.429 and .361 respectively) that could see each player lose a chunk of their average in the second half. That being said, Dickerson was exceptionally close to the next tier, and it wouldn’t be entirely out of this world to see him finish the season with a batting line as strong as it is right now.
Tier 2: Could hold steady
11) Evan Longoria: .259/.317/.427/.314/97
10) Kevin Kiermaier: .258/.329/.408/.317/99
9) Trevor Plouffe: .229/.270/.343/.266/64
8) Shane Peterson: .259/.333/.431/.329/107
7) Peter Bourjos: .242/.294./.432/.309/93
6) Wilson Ramos: .242/.297/.576/.345/118
Both Longoria and Kiermaier currently have a wRC+ under 100, and while it could certainly happen that both Rays studs finish the season below that mark, I’d have my money on both improving in the second half. Kiermaier should come back healthy and rested for the stretch run, while Longoria hasn’t posted a season with a wRC+ below 105 in his entire career. Plouffe is in the same boat to a certain extent, as his .229/.270/.343 slash line simply has to improve or he won’t be on the active roster much longer.
Peterson, Bourjos, and Ramos all seem to be playing a bit over their heads, with a 107 wRC+ for Peterson, a .190 ISO for Bourjos, and a .333 ISO for Ramos. Ramos is at the top of the list because he’s due for a bit of batted ball luck (.192 BABIP) that could help to cancel out the power regression he is due for.
Tier 3: Most likely to last
5) Taylor Featherston: .184/.267/.368/.270/67
4) Steven Souza Jr.: .271/.369/.500/.371/135
3) Daniel Robertson: .224/.314/.365/.299/86
2) Jesus Sucre: .245/.265/.396/.278/72
1) Logan Morrison: .258/.367/.564/.382/143
Three of these names are rather boring to choose as the most likely batting line to stay (Feathers, D-Rob, and Sucre), which is why I slotted LoMo as the number one guy. Souza is up there as well, as his .351 BABIP seems like a sign for regression until you realize that his career BABIP is .333, and he’s hitting the ball as well as he has in any pro season this year.
Morrison gets the top spot because although his HR/FB rate (24.0 percent) seems likely to fall back to earth, whatever is going on in (or with the) baseball is the perfect recipe for a hitter like Morrison to post a career-high home run total. His hard hit ball rate (42.6 percent) shows he hasn’t been getting lucky as he has made real improvements in his power approach, and his BABIP (.266) is actually slightly below his career rate (.273). The improvements he has made to his plate discipline (career-high 14.5 percent walk rate) are doing wonders for his slash line which is part of the reason he is currently rocking a 143 wRC+ that doesn’t seem that likely to slip.
So what do you think, DRB readers? Who has the first half batting line most likely to mirror his final line?
Which Rays line is most likely to last
This poll is closed
Colby Rasmus: .281/.318/.579/.365/131
Brad Miller: .209/.355/.338/.308/93
Tim Beckham: .274/.327/.433/.326/105
Adeiny Hechavarria: .243/.256/.270/.229/39
Mallex Smith: .333/.403/.425/.363/130
Corey Dickerson: .312/.355/.548/.376/139
Evan Longoria: .259/.317/.427/.314/97
Kevin Kiermaier: .258/.329/.408/.317/99
Trevor Plouffe: .229/.270/.343/.266/64
Shane Peterson: .259/.333/.431/.329/107
Peter Bourjos: .242/.294./.432/.309/93
Wilson Ramos: .242/.297/.576/.345/118
Taylor Featherston: .184/.267/.368/.270/67
Steven Souza Jr.: .271/.369/.500/.371/135
Daniel Robertson: .224/.314/.365/.299/86
Jesus Sucre: .245/.265/.396/.278/72
Logan Morrison: .258/.367/.564/.382/143