In the 12th inning of Monday night’s game, Brandon Guyer was on first base with two outs representing the go-ahead run. Jose Ramirez delivered his first pitch to Logan Forsythe, and it was a fastball, but it didn’t matter as Guyer got a great jump and stole second base easily. On the following pitch, Forsythe drilled a single to center, giving the Rays a 4-3 lead that would prove to be the final score of the game. For Guyer, it was his second stolen base of the game, both of which were quickly followed by him scoring the go-ahead run in the contest. The most surprising thing, though, was that Guyer entered the game with only one stolen base on the season.
So far in 2014, the Tampa Bay Rays have been a disaster stealing bases. They have stolen just 31 bases, 13th in the American League, yet they also rank 13th in stolen base success rate. The Rays are failing to steal many bases, and they haven’t even been able to pick their spots and swipe bags well. Desmond Jennings is the only player on the team with more than four stolen bases, and even then, he has been caught six times against his 12 steals. Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria have swiped the occasional base, but the Rays need to find a second option behind Jennings and make stolen bases a bigger part of their team. Kevin Kiermaier might be that player someday with his blazing speed and all-out hustle, but at this point, he is a long way from being a consistent threat. So far in 2014, he has been successful just once in four attempts, and he admitted to Rays broadcaster Brian Anderson that he is still not comfortable stealing bases. With that in mind, the Rays’ second-best basestealer on the team could very well be Brandon Guyer. In the minor leagues, Guyer averaged 27 stolen bases per 500 plate appearances while never getting caught more than seven times in a season. Then, on Monday, Guyer showed that he has the ability to be the same type of player in the major leagues.
Certain skills take a while to be developed in the major leagues. Brandon Guyer was a relatively patient hitter in the minors, but he began 2014 with 22 strikeouts against two walks before walking three times in his last three games. Guyer was such an accomplished basestealer in the minors, but it wasn’t until his 28th game of 2014 that he finally attempted his first stolen base. However, those two steals against the Yankees could be a turning point, and plenty more stolen bases could be coming. Everything has changed for Guyer as this season has progressed. He has gone from rotting on the bench to becoming an everyday player, and he is suddenly well on his way to establishing himself as a vital piece of the Rays’ roster. As Brandon Guyer gets more confident in himself at the major league level, the stolen bases will come. On a Rays team desperately needing more speed, the timing could not be any better.