Kevin Kiermaier is no longer a Tampa Bay Ray.
One of the longest tenured players in franchise history is officially a free agent after having spent his entire professional career with the Tampa Bay Rays organization. This career started when Kiermaier was selected in the 31st round of the 2010 draft (signing almost immediately), and reached the big leagues with a one day Game 163 promotion in 2013.
Since that time, Kiermaier has been dazzling in the outfield. The man was a 7.5 WAR player in 2015, almost entirely based on defense. His gold and platinum gloves are a tribute to his ability to patrol centerfield better than nearly anyone else.
But he’s also made an impact in other areas His list of all-time Rays rankings shows that his contributions can be found across the board:
5th - Games played (914)
9th - HR (82)
5th - Runs Scored (410)
3rd - Stolen Bases (112)
6th - Hits (756)
4th - fWAR (23.3)
2nd - Triples (51)
1st (TIED) - Outfield Assists (52)
Here are the top five moments at the plate in Kevin Kiermaier’s career, as determined by Win Probability Added (WPA)
#5: .433 WPA - August 21, 2019
Entering the bottom of the 9th against the Seattle Mariners, the Rays were deflated. The usually unflappable Emilio Pagan had just been torched for three runs to place the Rays in a 6-5 deficit. However, the Rays would quickly break even as Kevin Kiermaier would get the better of Seattle’s Matt Magill after a 7th pitch duel.
Kiermaier drilled a pitch straight back up the middle and over the wall in dead center field for a game tying solo homerun. The Rays would go on to win a few batters later when Willy Adames scampered home on a wild pitch.
#4: .436 WPA - September 15, 2017
There must be something to the Rays being trailing 6-5 and down to their final frame as once again Kevin Kiermaier found himself in a spot to deliver for the Rays. After the Rays bullpen allowed Boston to tally three runs in the 9th inning to tie this contest, the bullpens traded zeroes until the Red Sox got to Austin Pruitt for a run in the 14th inning.
Once again, Kiermaier led off, but this time it took only three pitches for Kiermaier to connect against Boston’s Brandon Workman as he scorched a 1-1 pitch into the seats of the right field corner for a game tying solo-homerun.
Unfortunately for Kiermaier and the Rays, the duo of Austin Pruitt and Chase Whitley imploded in the 15th inning as Boston tallied seven runs and would take a 13-6 victory.
#3: .450 WPA - July 9, 2014
A rookie Kevin Kiermaier was off to a hot star in his first full big league season in 2014. Entering play on July 9th that year, Kiermaier was hitting .278/.314/.542 (142 wRC+), displaying surprising pop for a player that was touted for his defensive skills.
In the bottom of the 4th inning in a contest against the Kansas City Royals, Kiermaier was up with two outs, the bases loaded, and down by two against young fireballer Yordano Ventura.
Kiermaier quickly fell behind 1-2, but Ventura made a mistake as he left a center cut fastball right out over the plate and Kiermaier took advantage as he promptly deposited the ball into the right field seats for a grand slam homerun.
Unfortunately, the Rays couldn’t hold the lead as Kirby Yates surrendered a go-ahead three run homerun to Salvatore Perez in the 9th inning and the Rays went on to lose, 5-4.
#2: .481 WPA - July 26, 2020
In the bizarre season that was 2020, Kevin Kiermaier delivered a tremendous walk-off moment in a game that showcased how exciting the ‘Manfred Man’ could be for Major League Baseball.
After the Rays came back from a 4-2 deficit to tie the game in the 9th inning, the Blue Jays promptly plated a run in the top half of the 10th after Santiago Espinal started the inning at second base as the extra baserunner, and then stole third base (after initially being called out, but the call was overturned). Espinal then scored on a sacrifice fly.
In the bottom half of the inning, Jose Martinez worked a nine pitch walk to place runners on first and second with nobody out.
Facing Shun Yamaguchi, Kiermaier scored a ball through the right side and into no-man’s land in the right field corner allowing Kevan Smith to score from second and for Kiermaier to chase Jose Martinez around the bases for a walk-off triple.
#1: .866 WPA - April 23, 2022
Things were looking bleak for the Rays in this early season contest against the Boston Red Sox.
After both sides exchanged zero’s for the first nine innings of play, the game moved into extras and the Red Sox quickly brought home two runs over the course of five pitches from Matt Wisler.
After the side was retired, the Rays trailed Boston, 2-0, and the first two batters in the bottom half of the frame were quickly set down on strikes.
After a balk and an error brought a run home, the Rays found they were still clinging to life as Kevin Kiermaier came up with a runner on base.
With the count 3-1, Kiermaier took advantage and ambushed a mistake from Hansel Robles, turning on the pitch and sending it into the first few rows of the right field bleacher for a dramatic two run walk-off homerun.