After a successful first act, Tampa Bay Rays fans are hoping for more of the same from wunderkind outfielder Wil Myers. A .293 average, 13 home runs and 53 RBIs was good enough to snag Rookie of the Year and earn plaudits across baseball for Myers. Now last season is but a distant memory, as is the 2 for 20 in the ALDS against Boston, not to mention the infamous misplay in right field. This is year two of The Wil Myers Experience. Year one saw a lot of highs and some lows. It did prove the kid is composed for his age, has a good eye at the plate, and can hit the ball a very long way. Year two, Rays fans hope for more of the same. Unlike his rookie season, Myers is here for the full year and looking for something more.
Baseball is a game of adjustments. After Myers put a serious hurting on the collective psyche of American league pitchers, they began to figure him out a bit. More sliders in the dirt came his way and Myers began to chase them more and more. He struggled. The summation of those struggles was the aforementioned 2 for 20 where Myers looked lost and, at times, overmatched. Myers’ struggles proved he was human and pitchers breathed a sigh of relief. The wunderkind had a weakness that could be exposed when they wanted to get him out. It was nice meeting you, Wil Myers, but sit back down.
Rays fans hoped that Myers locked himself in his modest home, which will no doubt become a palace one day, given the obscene amount of money he will earn over his career, and watched film. Maybe, he sat in the corner in a Zen-like state and laughed to himself. “If they think they got the better of me wait until they get a load of me in year two,” one could imagine him saying to himself. And like John Henry–the mythical figure, not the Boston Red Sox owner–he went out into the woods with an axe in hand to practice his swing and replenish his supply of baseball bats.
Meanwhile, from his laboratory in the back of his home, his manager, the mad scientist, sometimes going by the name of Joe Maddon, was cooking up new ways to unleash the new and improved Wil Myers on unsuspecting American league pitchers. One thought Maddon had was that he would DH Myers more. Joe is very wise and Rays fans are okay with whatever it is he wants to do. This being only his second year, Wil could wear down and, after months of careful evaluation, Maddon determined that this was the way he could keep Myers fresh and keep his bat in the line up.
Evan Longoria heard this news as he was proposing to his girlfriend in the bathtub and cheered. (She said yes.) Evan likes fastballs and, with Wil in the line up, to help him contribute to what is sure to be a high insanity rate among pitchers who face the Rays this season, he is sure to see a lot more of them this year. And a happy Evan makes Rays fans very happy.
The one bummer in this whole set up is Myers’ tendency to strike out. He relies a lot on instinct when hitting and can sometimes look very bad in at-bats. However, when he made contact, the wunderkind hit .362 when balls were put in play. Of course, the baseball experts predicted a bit of a regression because Wil swings and misses so much.
Little did they know that the wise and patient Ben Zobrist, who can tell whether a pitcher will throw a ball or strike even before the pitcher does, played for the Rays. He showed how a discerning eye and a thorough knowledge of the strike zone could breed success, almost as easily as swinging at every pitch. Watching Zobrist’s approach at the plate and the rewards he reaps from it will no doubt give Myers a different perspective. Whether Zobrist’s teachings sunk in remains to be seen. In year two of The Wil Myers Experience, strikeouts will be plentiful. It remains to be seen if he can be successful despite them.
Rays fans can’t wait to see the results of the offseason and what magic Wil Myers can conjure up with his baseball bat. They know Joe Maddon has a plan to get the most out of his wunderkind, be it right field or DH on any given day. Myers has been working on his defense in spring training so there is not a repeat of what happened in Boston. Maybe a lack of contact and his prolific strikeout tendencies may cause regression for Wil Myers’ baseball card stats. Just don’t count on it, AL East.