The depth of attack in Tampa Bay has been tested

© Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

If you want, you can call the rush unhappy. After last year saw the largest amount of war among baseball players, 2022 has been a big step backwards. They are ranked 18th in the league, the total number of wRC + is less than 100, and the injuries have had a huge impact on the line-up they planned to empty at the beginning of the year.

Their wonderful short title Wander Franco has not played since May 30th. Brandon Lowe, perhaps the team’s best batsman, has been out for two weeks longer than Franco. Manuel Margot had amassed a backlash, but is now out due to a knee injury that could cause a significant time lag, and fellow player Kevin Kiermaier hit IL the same day. Mike Zunino was ineffective and is now hurt. Josh Lowe and Taylor Walls, the two best team reinforcements of the year, have a total of 51 wRC +.

If you describe the problem this way, it’s amazing that the Rays are very much in the play-offs hunt, only half of the game’s last Wild Card spot. But this is just Tampa Bay for you. If you had let me choose the team that can best withstand the loss of its best bats, Rays would have been an easy choice. Their organizational philosophy prioritises depth and flexibility and will be tested again in the coming weeks.

What do I mean? Taking one example selected as a cherry, the pieces of their inner depth will be filled with Aaron Judge at Yankees:

But even without the outbreak of Isaac Paredes yesterday, Rays has created an enviable reinforcement group. Do you miss your start stop and another player? Walls have not hit at all this year, but he has a great defensive reputation and has been the team’s main short game since Franco’s injury. It brought him out of his revolving second / third base role, but that’s not a problem: Yandy Díaz, perhaps the team’s best batsman this year, can play third base full time. Vidal Bruján, the team’s best inside out, took on the role of Wals’ daily starter and reserve shortback. Paredes can play in any position on the indoor court except the short ones. Newly invited Jonathan Aranda after the smashing of Triple-A can as well.

In fact, Rays is too good a team for the very specific thing they’re testing. Lowe and Franco were the team’s two top bats according to our pre-season depth chart predictions, with a combined predicted wOBA of 0.351. The combination of these substitutions – for me an equal mixture of Paredes, Aranda and Bruján – was a projected wOBA of 0.310. That 41-point drop sounds huge, and so it is. If Franco and Lowe missed the whole season, it would bring out the attacks lost in the value of nearly 50 runs, not to mention the lack of defense.

But every other baseball team would suffer more if they were hit by a similar fate. I checked it quickly: I made pre-season predictions for the two best bats on each team and compared them to my best guess as to who will replace them. Rays had the smallest fall and the teams closest to them mostly reached a very low bar; The Cubs and Orioles, for example, did quite well.

Of course, the games will not be played according to predictions and Tampa Bay hackers must take the opportunity to keep the team hunted until the starters recover. Even if the Paredes / Aranda / Bruján composite solution works on the indoor court – and it’s far from predetermined, as Bruján achieves .162 / .208 / .234 with 120 recordings and Aranda hasn’t made his debut yet – that’s the point. replacing two of the team’s three starting winger.

One of these substitutions is simple, though a little worrying. Turner is a midfielder with a light bat; Brett Phillips is also that, though probably a worse defender and striker than the still excellent Speedcaster. Phillips has posted great defense numbers in the right field this year, and he can be seen in the home field. It also hits .168 / .233 / .285, which is suitable for 54 wRC +. You don’t have to hit much to be a valuable player if you can play a great field defense, but you have to hit more than et.

Replacing a margot can be easier, at least in the short term. He started the best start of his career, but Lowe is now a specially created replacement. Rays vacated Lowe’s place by swapping Austin Meadows for Paredes before the start of the season, but he left the gate and Margot more or less took his job. This sent Lowe back to Triple-A, where he has been both good and unsustainably hot, following the example of 144 wRC + and .422 BABIP. The team called him out two days ago and he has started both games since returning. This time, he gets every chance to succeed, because the team needs to be offended somewhere.

Randy Arozarena, the second starting winger, has been up and down this season; he is now down, almost 0 with wRC + in the last seven games, but he was hot in early June. This beak reaches approximately average offensive output. Harold Ramirez may be a better choice for the court, but he starts most of the day with DH and is the worst defender in the group. In most cases, Tampa Bay just needs to hold Lowe this time.

The depth of the team is admirable. Walls, Lowe and Bruján are (or were before graduating) the top 100 potential people. Aranda and Paredes have outstanding sub-league records. Ramirez and Phillips were both bought commercially for their Rays-y properties. This is the exact reason why rays build depth. It’s also good: if those shifts don’t hit, the Rays won’t make it to the playoffs.

It sounds regressive, but it is the truth. About half of Tampa Bay’s injury substitutes each day for about the next week. And I mean need Injury Substitutes – Rays has exactly one player on his 40-man list in his sub-league system since the last wave of promotions.

Replacements don’t have to last forever. Franco may return as early as this weekend, Lowe will continue to play baseball, and Kiermaier may be absent for only 10 days due to a hip injury. But even if these players return, the competition will remain fierce over time. Rays’ four regular customers – Walls, Phillips, Bruján and Zunino – have been more than 40% below average this year. The new crime has to come from somewhere – and given the status on the list, it probably has to come from those names or through a trade.

Every year, analysts look at the Tampa Bay team and think about how they turn depth into victories. Every year, Rays manages to spin something more than the sum of its parts – maybe there are just the right pieces in the bull’s hut, or maybe an unexpected call makes you offended. This year, they will try their depth like never before. Can Ray’s best sub-leagues anchor the playoffs? We’re starting to find out.

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