It’s Now or Never for Reid Brignac

By Robbie Knopf

Everything has fallen apart for Reid Brignac. The Rays traded Jason Bartlett to San Diego confident that Brignac could step right in and replace his production without a hitch. Instead, Brignac completely faltered, posting just a .193/.227/.221 line in 92 games and 264 plate appearances, and after making the Rays to begin the season, Brignac went just 2 for 11 and has been down at Triple-A Durham and has been there ever since. But now the Rays are realizing exactly what they’re missing with Brignac gone.

This season, the Rays’ primary shortstops have been Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez. Johnson has hit decently on the season, posting a .250/.316/.342 line, while Rodriguez has struggled but not on a Brignac-esque level, managing a .215/.278/.330 line. But the problem for the Rays all season has been shortstop defense. Johnson has been a defensive train wreck. Rodriguez has been better but still below-average. Reid Brignac was the player that the Rays knew all along was the best defender of the three. Shortstop defense has cost the Rays several games, and while Brignac certainly isn’t perfect, he would have prevented most of that. But would it all have been canceled out by Brignac’s ineptitude at the plate?

This season at Triple-A Durham, Brignac has not exactly lit up the sky, but he has not been so bad either. He has posted a .234/.325/.360 line with 13 doubles, 8 homers, 44 RBI, and 71 strikeouts versus 42 walks. Brignac is a player who has hit for some power in the past, even smacking 24 longballs back in 2006, but was has held him back is patience. Brignac’s walk rate this year is the highest of his career. And about his overall numbers, Brignac has been much better since the start of June, posting a .253/.337/.386 line. Brignac is not going to be anything special offensively. But he has the ability to be a solid offensive shortstop and even has a chance to be a tick above-average. Brignac turns 27 in January. He isn’t so young anymore. But he still has the ability to contribute to the team.

On September 1st or soon thereafter, Reid Brignac will make his long-awaited return to the big leagues. He will receive playing time for his defensive talents and will receive a chance to prove himself offensively as well. The Rays are rooting for him. They need him more than they ever could have realized. Can Brignac finally become the player the Rays always thought he could be?