Tampa Bay Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers is struggling. Mightily. How patient must the Rays be to allow him to play through it without bruising his daily game?
No, the Tampa Bay Rays are not going to send down Jake Bauers. At least, I don’t think so. The only advantage there would be to get him back on track and on a Durham Bulls team competing for another championship. Worthwhile cause. But, how much damage could it do to his ego?
Since the All-Star Break, Bauers is hitting .155, which is nearly a .100 drop compared to his pre-break stats. Worse, the strikeouts are up and the walks are down. So are the extra base hits. This last 3 for 47 stretch has almost been painful to watch.
But, he is a rookie. Growing pains. And, despite his struggles, the Rays are 19-14 during the stretch. With that, the Rays would seem willing to let him play through it. But, it’s been a tough stretch. He told The Athletic’s Juan Toribio (subscription required):
"“Just overthinking it. I think what got me in this little slump was having a couple of days where maybe you didn’t feel so good and then you and to change something, you and to make an adjustment when it’s not needed. That only leads to having to try harder and harder."
One big game could do the trick.
Jake Bauers is due for a big game. A slump buster. Quite honestly, with a hitter like Bauers, a one game confidence booster could do the trick. And, for everyone watching the struggles, we probably watch every at bat the same way. A stinging double down the right field line would be nice.
As the Rays head into September, getting Jake Bauers back on track will be a big step toward what should be a 2019 season filled with optimism. You have to figure that Jake Bauers is a 20-30 home run guy with about a .280 average, give or take.
And, he’s someone who’s going to play a dependable first base. Which begs the question. Should Kevin Cash and the Rays stop moving him to left field as they seem to do once or twice a week? Let’s face it. When Willy Adames was allowed to lay down roots at shortstop, his hitting improved dramatically. In fact, in the same stretch since the All-Star Break, Adames is slashing .282/.359/.456.
I get that defensive flexibility is a key to this team’s success. But, when a young player like Bauers is struggling as he is, making the game as easy as possible should be the goal. Chances are, he’s going to bust out in a big way. One game, multiple hits. Lots of times, that’s all it takes.