David DeJesus: The Tampa Bay Rays Offensive MVP This Season
Crazy things happen in baseball, but if you had told me that David DeJesus would have been the Tampa Bay Rays best hitter at any point this season, I would have called you insane. After all, the Rays have Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, and Wil Myers who were supposed to be big middle of the order bats. But, DeJesus is currently leading the Rays club in OPS and is second in slugging, a sign of just how bad the Rays offense has been this year.
Don’t get me wrong, DeJesus is a quality player, but no one expected a guy with a .771 career OPS would lead the Rays in that category this season. His .808 OPS this year is good, but it should not be leading the team. Evan Longoria, a career .859 OPS hitter, has put up just a .685 OPS this year and has hit for virtually no power. Wil Myers put up a .831 OPS down the stretch last season, but right now it sits at just .666 and he too has hit for little power. Ben Zobrist has also seen decline, going from a career .786 OPS and above a .800 OPS in two of the last three years to just a .716 OPS this season. With all of these struggles, the club sits at just 22nd in the MLB with a .687 team OPS and 18th with 186 runs scored. This is all despite an offense that was supposed to be improved thanks to the acquisitions of Ryan Hanigan and Logan Forsythe on top of full years from DeJesus and Myers.
The Rays did have plenty of pitching problems early this year, but the rotation has been much better as of late, and Alex Cobb‘s return is a huge boost to the rotation. So now, everything comes down to the offense. There is not one single player that can be the savior to the offense, but if anyone can come close to being so it is Evan Longoria. He has been the key to the Rays offense since his debut in 2008, and the Rays need him to be again. When Ben Zobrist returns from injury, he too is going to need to return to his previous form. But, those two guys alone can’t fix the problem. The entire offense has to find consistency and sustain it, and that is the only way that the Rays are going to fix their struggles that have seen them go 20-28 this year.
The Tampa Bay Rays have received a great offensive effort from DeJesus after he got over his early season cold streak. They just wish they could say the same for the rest of the offense. Watching this team everyday, it is tough to continually see them give away at-bats and struggle to score runs. The good news is that this lineup has plenty of hitters with ability. They should do better offensively for the rest of the season, but to what level they rebound will determine if the club can compete or not. Everything is on the offense’s shoulders now- it is time for their hitters not named David DeJesus to step up.