Tampa Bay Rays: Work Needed on Bottom Half of Lineup


The Tampa Bay Rays bottom of the lineup is not primed for prime time; significant changes are needed to increase production.

Even though this has been a tough season for the Tampa Bay Rays, there have been some positive aspects to the team’s performance.

One of the brightest lights has been the top four slots in the batting order where Logan Forsythe, Evan Longoria and Brad Miller have produced 78 home runs and 228 RBI.

In addition, Kevin Kiermaier, has stolen 20 bases and has a .332 on base percentage.

Unfortunately, the rest of the batting order has not performed nearly as well.

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As we have seen a never ending rotation of hitters trying to establish a place in the order.

At the present time, only Nick Franklin is hitting above .250 and only Corey Dickerson has shown any power.

That is not enough firepower to produce a winner next season so let us see how we might beef up those slots for the 2017 season.

The first idea might be to drop Logan Forsythe to the number five slot.

They tried Matt Duffy there when he came over from San Francisco but while he is a solid hitter, he is really not a power hitter like Forsythe.

As much as I hate to move Forsythe out of the leadoff slot, it might produce the best of all worlds.

Duffy gets on base and Forsythe drives him in. It doesn’t hurt that he is a right handed hitter behind the left handed Miller.

The number six slot should go to Corey Dickerson.

Dickerson has power to burn and is a left handed hitter. He has hit 23 home runs and driven in 67 runs this season.

Unfortunately, his on base percentage and situational hitting are terrible.

Furthermore, he needs to add twenty-five points to his batting average and OBP.

Cutting down his strikeouts by 25% would not hurt either and he’s also probably just a platoon guy so the right handed hitting Mikie Mahtook needs to step up as well.

You would like to see the seventh slot in the order go to Steven Souza Jr.

He has all the talent in the world and in his last year at AAA hit .350 with a 1.022 ops.

Unfortunately, he has not shown those skills in the major leagues.

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This year he has shown only occasional power while striking out more than once every three at bats.

Currently, Souza is recovering from hip surgery.

Because of this, he’ll be unable to work on his approach at the plate till spring training.

If he cannot improve his game, the Rays are in trouble, as neither Mahtook nor Richie Shaffer seems to be ready for full time duty.

I am putting the DH in the number eight slot.

Most teams do not do that.

They find some aging slugger who can adapt to the role and overpay him for stepping on the field four times a game.

The Rays cannot afford to do that and every time they do overpay, it does not work out.

I am thinking a trade is in order here and my first choice would be to obtain former Ray Derek Dietrich from Miami.

Dietrich can hit but he does not have a position.

Furthermore, he will not cost a fortune in players or in salary, plus he’s under team control until 2020.

Additionally, Dietrich hits left handed and in a pinch can play four positions.

At this time, the number nine slot has to go to the catcher. As usual, the Rays are looking for a catcher that can hit above the Mendoza line.

We know that will not be Curt Casali and as much as Luke Maile is teasing us, it probably will not be him.

That leaves a trade to be made. I have mentioned before that the Philadelphia Phillies are the most logical candidate.

They have a major league catcher in Cameron Rupp, a #11 catcher in Andrew Knapp at AAA and a #4 catcher in Jorge Alfaro at AA.

Rupp has hit 16 home runs and driven in 53 RBI and Knapp had a good season at AAA. Either one would be available for quality prospects. It is a move the Rays must make.

Simply put, the Rays must get more offense from players that are not named Forsythe, Longoria and Miller.

This is particularly true when it comes to situational hitting.

They will not get much help from AAA.

So they need to coach up some current players and make a couple of smart moves for next season.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Prospects Look For a Roster Spot

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If that happens, the 2017 season could be a much more exciting than 2016.