The 28-year-old second baseman isn’t flashy and he doesn’t grab your attention. He isn’t exactly a superstar in baseball and he doesn’t appear in MLB Network commercials. But, what he does do is perform and he does that better than most Tampa Bay Rays players.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times recently wrote a great article regarding Joey Wendle’s hunger and drive this Spring Training. But, did you expect anything else from the Tampa Bay Rays unassuming second baseman.
He came into camp last season a 28-year-old after thought and ended the year fourth in the Rookie of the Year race with 4.3 bWAR to his name, which led all Rays position players. Now, Joey Wendle enters camp as the incumbent second baseman with no obvious threat to his job security aside from the slugging rookie, Brandon Lowe who is getting reps all over the field.
While he may have found success, he hasn’t changed and likely never will.
Marc Topkin put it perfectly:
"There was a better chance of Blake Snell giving up video games for botany than Wendle rolling into Port Charlotte upgrading the 2015 Honda Pilot he and Lindsey share in season (or the 2010 Accord he drives at home) for a fancy sports car, or sporting a thick swaggy chain and designer threads."
Wendle is the consummate professional. He exemplifies the Rays better than anybody else. He isn’t flashy but he gets the job done. He goes out and competes every single day. To put it simply, Wendle or “Mendle” is a gamer, a winner. How could you not love the guy? And, how could you expect him to do anything else this spring other than compete?
He is simply a guy you root for day in and day out. Why? Because it is easy. Because you want to. Because, honestly you should, he became one of the Rays best players over night and will play a crucial role in 2019.
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Wendle’s words exemplify the type of player he is:
"“I feel more motivated and more focused than I did last year. I feel like I’ve proven to myself to some extent what I feel like I’m capable of doing. And I want to build off that, not rest on that.”"
How could you not love Joey Wendle?