As we approach opening day, we have two positions left to breakdown. Today, we look at centerfield, Kevin Kiermaier’s stomping ground.
If he can stay healthy, Kevin Kiermaier will roam centerfield with no threat to his job security. The former Platinum Glove award winner will play an integral role on this Tampa Bay Rays team. There is no disputing that the team is better when his defense is on display.
If you are worried about his durability, you are not alone. He hasn’t played in more than 98 games in the past 2 seasons and he hasn’t surpassed 105 games since he appeared in 151 in 2015. KK plays the game with such intensity that he is always at risk for injury, but hopefully in 2019 he can dispel the concern over his health.
The other concern surrounding Kiermaier is his bat. This spring the centerfielder has performed well at the plate, hitting north of .265 with 4 doubles and a bomb (today).
Like his health though, there is reason for concern. Over the past 3 seasons, KK has hit .248 with 34 bombs and 105 runs batted in. His OPS+ of 100 is league average which accurately describes KK as a hitter, average at best. Hopefully he can turn the tables and return to his 2017 form where he hit 15 bombs in 98 games while hitting .276.
Take a look at Kiermaier’s numbers from an injury plagued 2018 campaign:
88 G // .217/.282/.370 // 7 HR // 29 RBI // 80 OPS+
The other option in centerfield would be the recently acquired Guillermo Heredia who came over in the Zunino deal. The Rays like Heredia’s defense and he will provide the Rays with a right handed bat off the bench.
Heredia’s numbers with SEA in 2018:
125 G // .236/.318/.342 // 5 HR // 19 RBI // 87 OPS+
The Cuban outfielder may not be on the major league roster long though with Joe McCarthy patiently waiting in Durham. I recently wrote about him and 2 other prospects who will likely make their debut in 2019.
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