Logan Forsythe will be an impact player for the Tampa Bay Rays the next few years. That is almost guaranteed. The past three years he has been a solid bench player for the San Diego Padres, managing a .241/.310/.349 line (88 OPS+) with 28 doubles, 12 homers, 57 RBI, and 17 stolen bases in 762 plate appearances. He was especially good against left-handed pitching, hitting them to a .290/.363/.430 line in 249 PA’s. Forsythe played primarily second base, but he also saw time at third base, shortstop, left field, and right field. Between all of his abilities, Forsythe should be at least another utility infielder in the Sean Rodriguez mold who can play capably when the opposition has a lefty on the mound. It is always nice to have depth, and Forsythe will add to that for the Rays. But the Rays did not acquire Forsythe purely for that purpose. They see a player with more ability than he has shown, and they believe that this could be the year that his potential comes to fruition.
In 2013, Evan Longoria was first listed as dealing with a planar fasciitis in his right foot on June 14th. Up to and including that date, he hit to a .308/.364/.548 line with 20 doubles, 13 homers, and 40 RBI in 291 plate appearances. The rest of the season, Longoria managed just a .239/.328/.462 line with 19 doubles, 19 homers, and 48 RBI in 402 plate appearances. That is just one example, but planar fasciitis is an extremely difficult injury to play through. It is often not severe enough to land a player on the disabled list, but even if he keeps playing, he has to deal with quite of bit of pain every single game, and it takes a long time to heal. It can mess up a player entirely at the plate–good luck driving off that foot–and it can affect a player in the field as well. Evan Longoria is widely regarded as one of the best third basemen in baseball, and he struggled mightily as he dealt with the injury. Logan Forsythe is not nearly at his level, but seeing what Longoria went through gives us insight into what Forsythe went to and how much better he can be.
After a breakout 2012, Forsythe slipped to just a .214/.281/.322 line (77 OPS+) in 2013, but it can be blamed almost entirely on planar fasciitis. The injury sidelined Forsythe from the end of spring training to mid-June, and he simply could never get on track even once he returned. But even in what was by all accounts a lost year, Forsythe still stole 6 bases in 7 tries and improved significantly at second base. In 2012, UZR had Forsythe at just a -7.5 mark while DRS had him at even more ghastly -11. In 2013, he improved to 1.5 and 2 respectively. Even when nothing was working for him, Forsythe did everything he could to help his team win. Imagine how good he could be with his injury behind him?
Logan Forsythe has proven himself to be a solid big league utility player, but there is a chance he could be something more. He shows a quick bat and good plate discipline to go along with good speed and solid power, and there is a chance he could evolve into a starting second baseman. His versatility only makes him a bigger weapon, and we know the Rays take advantage of that better than anyone else. Describing Forsythe as the key to the Alex Torres trade is a bit of a stretch. However, don’t be shocked a couple of years down the line if Forsythe turned out better than anyone possibly could have thought.