As a Tampa Bay Rays fan, I am excited to see the final 26-man roster for the upcoming season. The outfielders have played a crucial role in the team’s success over the years, and this season is no exception. With a mix of veterans and rising stars, the Tampa Bay bench is looking strong. From Randy Arozarena’s breakout performance in the playoffs to Manuel Margot’s clutch plays, our outfielders will be a force to be reckoned with. I can’t wait to see what they will bring to the field this year.
The Importance of a Strong Bench in MLB
In Major League Baseball, having a strong bench can be just as important as having a strong starting lineup. The ability to bring in a high-quality player to pinch-hit or substitute defensively can make all the difference in close games.
With the Tampa Bay Rays in particular, having a solid bench can be crucial. The team is known for relying heavily on their bullpen and utilizing different bullpen strategies, so having versatile players on the bench can provide more options for the manager.
The Starting Outfield: Meadows, Kiermaier, and Margot
The Rays’ starting outfield is expected to consist of Austin Meadows in left field, Kevin Kiermaier in center field, and Manuel Margot in right field. All three players have proven to be valuable assets for the team.
Meadows had a breakout season in 2019, posting a .922 OPS with 33 home runs and 89 RBIs. He struggled with injuries in 2020 but still managed to hit five home runs in just 36 games.
Kiermaier is known for his outstanding defense in center field, having won three Gold Glove awards in his career. He also hit a respectable .217 with three home runs and 22 RBIs in 49 games last season.
Margot was acquired by the Rays in a trade with the San Diego Padres in December 2019. He was a key player in the team’s run to the World Series in 2020, hitting .276 with 12 RBIs in 25 postseason games.
The Bench Outfielders: Phillips, Tsutsugo, and Arozarena
While the starting outfield is strong, the Rays’ bench outfielders are just as important. They provide depth and versatility, which can come in handy during long seasons.
Brett Phillips is a speedy outfielder who is known for his excellent defense. He was acquired by the Rays in a trade with the Kansas City Royals in August 2020 and played a key role in the team’s World Series run, hitting a game-winning single in Game 4.
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo is a left-handed hitter who can play both the outfield and first base. He struggled in his first season with the Rays in 2020, hitting just .197 with eight home runs and 24 RBIs in 51 games. However, he has shown potential in the past and could bounce back this season.
Randy Arozarena is perhaps the most interesting player on the Rays’ bench. He was acquired by the team in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in January 2020 and struggled in his first few months with the organization. However, he had an incredible postseason, hitting .377 with 10 home runs and 14 RBIs in 20 games. He was named the ALCS MVP and set a postseason record for most home runs by a rookie.
The Importance of Versatility
One of the key traits of the Rays’ bench outfielders is their versatility. Phillips can play all three outfield positions and has even pitched in relief in his career. Tsutsugo can play both the outfield and first base, and Arozarena can play all three outfield positions as well.
This versatility allows the team to make strategic substitutions depending on the situation. For example, if the Rays are facing a tough left-handed pitcher, they could bring in Tsutsugo to give a left-handed bat off the bench. If they are in a close game and need to keep the lead, they could bring in Phillips for his defensive prowess.
The Final Roster Spot
The final roster spot for the Rays is up for grabs, and there are several candidates vying for the position. The most likely candidates are Mike Brosseau and Yoshi Tsutsugo.
Brosseau has been a valuable utility player for the Rays over the past two seasons, playing second base, third base, and outfield. He hit .302 with a .899 OPS and four home runs in 61 games last season.
On the other hand, Tsutsugo is a left-handed hitter who could provide value off the bench. He struggled in his first season with the Rays but has shown potential in the past.
The Rays’ outfield is one of the strongest in the league, with a mix of power, speed, and defense. The bench outfielders provide versatility and depth, which could be crucial during a long season.
As the team prepares for the 2021 season, the final roster spot remains up in the air. Whoever gets the nod will likely be a valuable asset off the bench and could make a big impact in close games.