Welcome to the wacky world of Tampa Bay second basemen. Yes, these are the Rays and thanks to the magic that was Joe Maddon and the cunning that is Kevin Cash, the middle infield assignments at Tropicana Field have been nothing short of lively. Though the Devil Rays were generally a kinder incarnation to the scorecard, stability rarely translated into success at the position. With Baseball-Reference.com by my side providing the numbers and my Rays-loving heart leading the way, here are this fan’s picks from worst to first of the High-Five of Tampa Bay second basemen.
This was a tricky pick. Much like Sean Rodriguez’s surprise appearance at No. 5 on the High-Five, and rookie Joey Wendle’s taking of spot No. 3, Logan Forsythe claiming the penultimate spot in this ranking shocked the stuffing right out of me. While I loved Forsythe and his iconic red beard as much as any Rays’ fan, I never thought his three years in Tampa Bay would put him above all but one at second base. Oh, how the naïve (that would be me) have fallen. With apologies to Mr. Forsythe for my initial doubts, I proudly hand No. 2 to the man known as Logie Bear.
No.2: Logan Forsythe
The Tampa Bay Numbers
Home runs: 43
Batting average: .262
Games played at 2B: 318
Fielding percentage: .985
Logan Forsythe arrived in Tampa Bay in a trade many Rays’ fans bemoaned.
Alex Torres had just slammed down a 1.71 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 39 games of relief and 58 innings pitched for the Rays in 2013. Trading him to the San Diego Padres in January of 2014 for a handful of iffy players was like salt on a fresh wound to Trop-goers. The names of pitchers Brad Boxberger (still an unknown) and Matt Andriese (equally unknown) did little to beef up the acquisition of Logan Forsythe, a utility infielder of blah numbers.
Oh well, Rays’ fans knew the pain well. Grinning and bearing it, they waited.
Unfortunately, 2014 did little to take the sting away. While Forsythe played a very good second base defensively (.991 fielding percentage in 74 games with just two errors), his bat fell flat. Hitting just .223 and contributing only six homers and 26 RBIs in 301 at-bats was disappointing, to say the least. In fact, as spring training 2015 rolled along, it looked like Forsythe would be playing back up to Nick Franklin at second base.
But Fate had other ideas.
One week before the season began, Nick Franklin ended up on the disabled list. Pressed into service, Forsythe took over the day-to-day job at second. And, wow, did magic happen!
Let’s have a look at these fantastic 2015 numbers. In 153 games (126 at 2B) and 540 at-bats, Forsythe hit .281 with 152 hits, 17 home runs and 68 RBIs. He had nine stolen bases, a sterling OPS of .804 and a 5.2 WAR that was tenth best in the AL for position players.
Forsythe’s 14 hit-by-pitches was fourth most in the league. It was one of these HBP that robbed Forsythe of a month of play. Hit by a Felix Hernandez fastball in May, Forsythe would have to rehab through a fractured shoulder blade before returning in June. There were a few bumps along the way, but by September, he was being named the AL Player of the Week.
While his defensive numbers dropped some at second base in 2015, Forsythe still finished the year with a respectable .985 fielding percentage, committing only seven errors.
The Rays rewarded Forsythe with a $10.25 million, two-year contract with an option for 2018.
Forsythe’s numbers dipped in 2016 again in the field. His .981 fielding percentage was marred by nine errors, fifth most in the AL at second base. His offense leveled off to a .264 BA, but he still produced a hefty 135 hits and 20 home runs for an OPS of .778 and a 3.4 WAR. Not as great as 2015, but still very good.
So, of course, the Rays traded Forsythe away in January of 2017.
The salt in the wound tasted of Los Angeles this go-around. In return for Forsythe, the Dodgers sent José De León to Tampa Bay. As of the start of 2019, Rays’ fans are still having to grin and bear this pain.
Logan Forsythe was a wonderful surprise, both for the Tampa Bay organization and for the High-Five. If only he could have lingered longer under the Trop’s catwalks, perhaps Forsythe would have vied for tomorrow’s top spot held by… you guessed it, Zorilla!
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