Freddy Guzman’s Speed Gives the Rays an Edge

By Robbie Knopf

When you’re a 32 year old stuck at Triple-A, you will be considered a Quad-A player no matter how well you’re playing. The disparaging label goes a step further, though, when you’re in the Mexican League–you’re not just a Quad-A player, but a Quad-A player that no major league team wanted even on their Triple-A squad. But that doesn’t mean that Quad-A players or even outlaw Quad-A players are totally useless. Leave it to the Rays to scoop a one-tool player out of the Mexican League believing that he can help him win a game or two in the season’s last two weeks. A few weeks ago, the Rays signed outfielder Freddy Guzman, and now they have promoted him to the major leagues to be a pinch-runner extraordinaire.

Freddy Guzman never hit enough to make the major leagues. In 4401 minor league plate appearances, he has a .279 batting average and a .352 OBP, but his total lack of power held him to just a .380 slugging percentage. Just 5’10” and 165 pounds, Guzman had a decent eye and made a lot of contact, but he was a tap hitter who didn’t even play good defense in centerfield, taking poor routes, letting too many balls clank off his glove, and possessing a well below-average arm. But there is one thing Freddy Guzman has always done well: run. That one attribute was so good that it got him to the major leagues with the Padres, Rangers, and Yankees for brief stints. Now the Rays are calling upon his services again for the same exact reason. How well can Guzman run? Suffice it to say, he’s a burner, but his minor league stats illustrate just how incredible a basestealer he really is.

For his minor league career, Guzman has stolen 587 bases in 692 attempts, an 84.8% success rate. The amount of steals and the number of times he has been successful speak for themselves. But the past few years, he has gotten even better. This season for the Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen in the Mexican League, Guzman stole 73 bases while getting caught just 9 times, a ridiculous 89.0% success rate. And the last two seasons, Guzman is 129 for 144, stealing the base safely 89.5% of the time. Freddy Guzman is a prolific basestealer. He may be getting older and presumably has lost a step, but he’s still extremely fast and has the art of reading pitchers down to a science, finding a leave pitchers and catchers feeling helpless time after time. And with a 40-man roster spot available temporarily thanks to five players on the 60-day DL (Brandon Guyer was added to make room for Guzman), the Rays decided to be the team that adds Guzman to their roster and sees just how much havoc he can inflict on major league pitchers as a pinch-runner. The Rays had a 40-man roster spot sitting there, and while there were a variety of options to fill it, adding another player would force somebody to get designated for assignment after the year and the player added wouldn’t even do much in September anyway. Guzman was the perfect fit as a short-term option who can  be the last man on the roster yet still make an impact. The move came with no risk whatsoever, and Guzman lives up to the basestealing hype from the Mexican League, this minor addition could help the Rays on their march to the postseason.