What if Wil Myers started the season in Tampa?

By Peter M. Gordon

Sep 16, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder

Wil Myers

(9) hits a 2-RBI double during the fifth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Wil Myers didn’t play in the final game against the Rangers. He has appeared in 77 games for the Rays since coming up from the minors on June 16. He’s currently leading the regulars in batting average, scored 41 runs, and hit 13 homers with 49 RBI. With the Rays fighting hard to hold their lead in the wild card race, it makes me wonder where the club would be had Myers started on the roster in April.
There was never doubt about Myers’ potential. The Rays traded James Shields to get Myers and a package of prospects. Their decision to keep him in the minors until June 16 was mainly financial – it allowed the Rays to keep Myers away from free agency longer than if he had started on the roster in April.

But did that long-term decision cost them this year’s division championship? While you can’t assume Myers would have doubled his production in those first 73 games, it’s reasonable to suppose he might have 80 runs scored, 25 home runs and over 90 RBI at this point in the season. If that was the case we’d be talking about him as the most valuable Ray, not just a rookie of the year.

How many more games would the Rays have won with Myers bat in right field instead of Sam Fuld? I love Sam Fuld – he’s a hustler who works hard to make the most of his talent and has helped win several games. But he barely cracked .200 in batting average. Would Myers’ bat have won two or three more games in the early going? That would at least have the Rays in a more comfortable wild card position at this point.

No one goes to the concession stand when Myers comes up to bat. He has a chance to be one of the greatest Rays ever – up there with Fred McGriff, Carl Crawford, and Evan Longoria. Rays management may have made the best long term decision keeping him in the minors until June 16. I hope at the end of the year the Rays won’t need one or two games Myers’ bat might have won in May.