Tampa Bay Rays 2016 Player of the Year: Kevin Kiermaier
The Tampa Bay Rays finished last in the AL East standings for the first time in eight years, with their center fielder chosen as the club’s Player of the Year.
The Tampa Bay Rays finished the 2016 season at the bottom of the American League East Division standings with a 68-94 record. It was the club’s worst record since the 2007 team went just 66-96. That was also the last time that the Rays finished at the bottom of the division standings.
The club ran off seven consecutive winning campaigns after that 2007 debacle, including a pair of division crowns and their lone American League pennant in 2008. Despite the poor season for the team as a whole, there were some fine individual performances turned in by the Rays’ players.
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26-year-old Jake Odorizzi went 10-6 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.194 WHIP. He allowed 170 hits in 187.2 innings with a 166/54 K:BB ratio.
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In the bullpen, 27-year-old Alex Colome emerged as the closer, registering 37 saves over 57 games. He allowed 43 hits over 56.2 innings with a 71/15 K:BB ratio.
Offensively, 30-year-old veteran third baseman Evan Longoria led the regulars with a .273 average, .521 slugging percentage, and an .840 OPS mark. He banged 36 homers and 41 doubles, drove in 98 runs, and scored 81 times.
Shortstop Brad Miller slammed 30 home runs with 81 RBI and 73 runs scored. Second baseman Logan Forsythe hit 20 long balls and scored 76 runs. Left fielder Corey Dickerson produced 24 homers and 70 RBI.
Prior to an August 1 trade to the Baltimore Orioles, free agent signing Steve Pearce hit for a .309/.388/.520 slash line with 10 homers in just 232 plate appearances.
Kiermaier Is the Rays’ Player of the Year
The Rays’ top all-around player this season was Kevin Kiermaier, the club’s speedy center fielder. Kiermaier won his second consecutive AL Gold Glove Award for center fielders just this past week.
Offensively, the 26-year-old in his second full season had a dozen homers and stole 21 bases. He also led the ball club with 5.5 WAR despite an injury taking him out of the lineup from late May through the MLB All-Star break.
Kiermaier was quoted as follows by Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times after winning the defensive honors:
“When I saw that I was the happiest man on this planet,” Kiermaier said. “The amount of time that I missed was the only thing holding me back. Other than that I felt by far I’m the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. It’s my award to win. That’s the way I feel. If it’s truly a defensive award, right now, barring something crazy happening I don’t feel anyone else should get this above me.”
No one did get it above him, and no one was more valuable in baseball on the west side of Florida either. Kevin Kiermaier is defense and speed, and this season he is the Tampa Bay Rays’ Player of the Year.