Wil Myers should be coming off the DL this week and at first thought you would think that should boost the Tampa Bay Rays wild card push. Not so fast.
The Rays already have a really good right fielder in rookie Kevin Kiermaier and – get ready to scream – one who is significantly better than Wil Myers.
Myers won the AL Rookie of the Year award last season. In 88 games he registered a 1.9 bWAR and a -4 DRS (defensive runs saved) in right field. He’s not a strong defender, remember this critical defensive miscue last post season?
This year in 75 games Kevin Keirmaier has registered a 3.0 bWAR and +12 DRS in right field. bWAR tells you what my eyes already told me before I looked it up, Kiermaier is the better player, by a lot.
Myers came over in the James Shields trade. At the time, we assumed the Rays had pillaged the Royals. And so we made the assumption that he was a great player. Since then, he has been good, but I’m not there on great just yet. In Myers’ 53 games and 224 plate appearances in 2014 before his wrist injury, he was hitting .227 and had a -0.7 bWAR to go with a -10 DRS.
If you’re thinking platoon for the left-handed hitting Kiermaier and right-handed hitting Myers, I would proceed with caution.
Versus left-handed pitching this year Myers was hitting .186 with 1HR. Kiermaier versus LHP has batted .184 with 1 HR. Both paltry. Now we can reasonably expect Myers to be better versus LHP considering Myers hit .293 versus southpaws last year, but he was also a + bWAR player last year. When you consider you are exchanging superior defense in Keirmaier for below average defense in Myers, it is not the easy decision you may have first thought.
A platoon with left-handed hitting Matt Joyce is probably the smarter move. Joyce is a +1.7 bWAR player this year, but like Myers he’s an average-to-below-average outfielder. He too, has also struggled versus LHP, hitting .185 with 1 HR in 2014. Eerily enough, right in the middle of Myers’ .186 and Kiermaier’s .184.
If I’m platooning Myers with one of my left-handed hitting outfielders, I’m doing it with his equally bad defender, not the significantly superior one. Kevin Kiermaier should be the Rays everyday right fielder. The DH option for Wil Myers is a good play as well.