There are a lot of reasons why talented prospects never find success in the major leagues. Often they have some fatal flaw in their game–for instance, issues with pitch recognition at the plate–and it’s too big of a problem to overcome. But for others, like Brandon Guyer entering this year, the reason is simply bad luck.
In 2012, Brandon Guyer was in the major leagues and had just slammed his first home run of the season when he injured his shoulder, an injury that required season-ending surgery. On July 27, 2013, Guyer fractured his middle finger when he was hit by a pitch. On August 4, Desmond Jennings also fractured his middle finger, and Guyer, of course, was out and couldn’t replace him. Despite being a talented player who first cracked the Tampa Bay Rays’ roster in 2011, Guyer began this season as a 28 year old who had yet to establish himself in the major leagues. His time as a prospect was over, and suddenly his career was hanging in the balance. Then this year, misfortune struck him in a different way.
Before Saturday’s game, Brandon Guyer had hit an unbelievable amount of line drives, 28% of his batted balls, but had managed just a .243 batting average on balls in play. Essentially, Guyer was hitting the ball very hard, but did not have much to show for it. If that seems like an esoteric statistical thing, any Rays fan who has been watching Guyer in the last ten days can confirm it through the eye test. Guyer hit several bullets to the outfield, and nearly every one ended up in a fielder’s glove. Guyer was having terrible luck, and his batting average dipped to just .196 in the process. Fans simply looking at the statistics were wondering why Guyer was still being put in the lineup, but the fans watching knew otherwise. For once, it was only a matter of time until Guyer’s bad luck ended and the hits starting dropping in.
It took him seven at-bats, but Guyer had a four-hit game in the Rays’ 15-inning marathon versus the Boston Red Sox on Saturday. They weren’t cheapies either–Guyer drilled two doubles, drove in two, and also scored two runs. It was just one great game, but it was a reminder for all of us and for Brandon Guyer himself of exactly what he is capable of. He has an opportunity before him, and there is reason to believe that he can help the Rays the next few years. All he needed was for his luck to change.