Tampa Bay Rays: Adames arrived in the 4th inning and it was glorious
By Austin Reimann
The Tampa Bay Rays forced a Game 5 behind a masterful display of pitching and defense… oh, and Willy Adames.
The Tampa Bay Rays were leading 3-0. It was the top of the 4th inning in a win-or-go-home Game 4. After leading off the inning with a single, Jose Altuve extended his lead at first. With one out, Yordan Alvarez worked a 2-2 count and laced a curveball over Kevin Kiermaier’s head in center field. Jose Altuve rounded second, then third, and raced for home.
And then, Willy Adames arrived.
Kevin Kiermaier, a platinum glove defender, delivered a strike to the 24 year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic. Willy, jumped and received Kiermaier’s throw, spun, and unleashed a bullet to catcher Travis d’Arnaud who turned and tagged out the speedy Jose Altuve.
Then, 6 pitches later, “The Kid” demolished a 1-1 hanging slider from Verlander, depositing it into depths of the dome.
Within a matter of 7 pitches, Willy Adames, playing in the biggest game of his career, had saved and tacked on a run for his team, permanently shifting momentum of the game and possibly the series.
Playing in his first career postseason, Willy has risen to the occasion. After going 0-4 in the Wildcard game against the Oakland Athletics, Adames has gone 5-10 with 2 bombs and three walks through the first four games of the ALDS.
Take a look at Willy’s numbers this ADLS:
- 1.815 OPS
- 1.200 SLG
- .615 OBP
- .500 AVG
- 2 HR // 3 BB // 5 H
To put it simply, Willy has risen to the occasion against arguably the best pitching staff in baseball.
His journey into professional baseball started over 7 years ago when highly touted shortstop prospect signed with Detroit as an 18 year old for 420K. Just two years later he would be the centerpiece of the three team David Price trade that went down to the wire on July 31st, 2014.
Upon his arrival in the Rays’ farm system, Willy assumed the mantle as the organization’s top prospect. Baseball America ranked the young shortstop as the Rays’ #1 or #2 prospect from 2014-2017.
After 2016, Baseball America ranked Adames as the #10 overall prospect in the game. The players ranked above him included Andrew Benintendi, Gleyber Torres, Yoan Moncada, Austin Meadows, and Cody Bellinger.
Just two years later, Willy made his long awaited debut, playing in 85 games. In a promising rookie campaign, Adames slashed .278/.348/.406 with 10 bombs. The future was indeed bright.
Fast forward to the second half of 2019, moving past the shaky first half that saw many worried over the then 23 year old’s shaky defense and propensity to strikeout. In the second half of the season, Willy returned to form slashing .278/.340/.467 with 10 bombs and an .807 OPS, all vast improvements over his first half struggles.
Despite his struggles early in the season, he ended the season as one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. Furthermore, across 152 games, Adames was worth 2.8 fWAR, the equivalent of roughly 22.6 million dollars in terms of value to the Rays.
At only 24 years old, playing in his first full season, Willy Adames has silenced the doubters with a dominating showcase of his abilities. He is excelling in all facets of the game in the biggest series of his life, acting as the bloodline for a young team playing in its first postseason in six years.
Last night appeared to be the culmination of a journey more than seven years in the making, where in a matter of seven pitches, Willy Adames truly arrived and it was glorious.