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Tampa Bay Rays: Was 2018 Matt Duffy’s last year in Tampa?

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TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 22: Matt Duffy #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays makes the play and throws out the baserunner in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 22, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 22: Matt Duffy #5 of the Tampa Bay Rays makes the play and throws out the baserunner in the first inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on September 22, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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If the Rays are looking to add power from the right side of the plate and are considering moving on from C.J. Cron, why wouldn’t they consider moving on from Matt Duffy too?

The Tampa Bay Rays most successful years were marked by power at the corners. Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena provided power and production at the corners in 2008 and 2010 when the Rays  won the East.

Both years that the Rays went on to win a Wildcard game, they could rely on Evan Longoria’s steady presence while leaning on Casey Kotchman in 2011 and James Loney in 2013. Kotchman only hit 10 bombs and drove in 48 but the Rays could compensate for the lack of power due to Longoria’s 26 homers and 99 runs batted which he provided in only 130 games. In 2013, Loney only hit 13 homers but drove in 75 runners along with Longoria’s 32 bombs and 88 runs batted in.

2018 marked the first time that the Rays won 90 games since 2013. They won 90 games without the steady presence of Evan Longoria. They did however, have C.J. Cron’s 30 bombs at first base and Matt Duffy’s consistency at third. If the Rays are looking to possibly move on from Cron due to the logjam at first base, then the question remains, why wouldn’t the Rays consider moving on from Matt Duffy due to the logjam in the rest of the infield?

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Out of the ten qualifying third baseman in the American League, Duffy finished last in HR, RBI, SLG% and ninth in runs scored. Duffy was middle of the pack when it came to WAR and wRC+.  The only categories that Duffy excelled in were OBP and AVG.

If the Rays think they can find a bat more productive than that of C.J. Cron’s, then they could certainly entertain the notion that they could find a more productive bat than that of Matt Duffy’s. With a logjam at first and a logjam in the remaining infield positions as well, moving Matt Duffy could alleviate some of that pressure.

If the Rays are looking to add right-handed power to a lefty heavy lineup, why not replace Duffy with a more productive hitter in an attempt to balance the scales.

Replacing Duffy does not have to come in the form of a flashy or expensive signing. The replacement is already a Tampa Bay Ray. Uber-utility infielder, Daniel Robertson is a perfect fit to replace Duffy. 

In an injury plagued season in which Robertson only played 88 games, he more than doubled Duffy’s home run total, slugged .415,  drove in 10 fewer runs in 44 fewer games, and had a wRC+ that was 21 points higher than Duffy’s. We could likely see Robertson hit 20 bombs and drive in 75 runs which would be a clear upgrade over Duffy’s 2018 season.

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If Robertson did hit 20 bombs, drive in 75, slug at a .400 clip, and maintain a wRC+ around 127, Robertson could be a top five third baseman in the American League. We saw Robertson’s potential in 2018 prior to his injuries. If the Rays gave him consistent playing time and regular at-bats, we could witness Daniel Robertson blossom just as C.J. Cron did this past season.

If the Tampa Bay Rays find an upgrade for C.J. Cron at first base and replace Matt Duffy with Daniel Robertson, they would only push themselves closer to a 2019 playoff appearance. Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena might not be leading the way at the corners, but if the Rays can find similar production it could go a long way towards making a playoff push.

Next. Is C.J. Cron's time in a Rays uniform almost up?. dark

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