Tampa Bay Rays: Kevin Cash and All His New Toys

Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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Tampa Bay Rays manager, Kevin Cash (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Rays have had a lot of turnover following their 96-win season. How will the manager best utilize all of his new toys?

Twelve players from last year’s Tampa Bay Rays are no longer with the team. Of their top fourteen likely offensive players, three are new to the Rays this season.

Manager Kevin Cash is tasked with the job of getting to know each player and how they will fit in the Rays’ rotations and platoons. The Rays continue to find success by maximizing production out of each player. Let’s take a look at Cash’s newest options and how they fit in with the existing team.

Keep in mind, wRC+ is a metric that attempts to measure weighted runs created with a score of 100 being league average. Anything over 100 is gravy.

Outfield Defense

Tommy Pham was a big loss on the offensive side worth a 3.3 fWAR and 121 wRC+. He slashed .273/.369/.450 with 81 walks. According to Statcast, he ranked in the 82nd percentile in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage. On the flipside, Pham ranked in the 2nd percentile in defensive outs above average (OAA). He has posted a career nine defensive runs saved with 11 of those coming in one season with St. Louis.

Austin Meadows hit the ball like an MVP last year but his OAA ranked in just the 20th percentile of the league. In his brief career, Meadows has posted a -15 defensive runs saved. The Rays aggressively addressed their outfield defense by adding two absolute defensive studs in Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.

We already know about the legend of Kevin Kiermaier and his three gold gloves. Kiermaier will still be patrolling centerfield for the 2020 Rays. Hunter Renfroe is bringing his 22 defensive runs saved with him from San Diego. He ranked in the 90th percentile in OAA and tied for second in all of baseball with Cody Bellinger in defensive runs saved. Margot brings his own skillset to the Rays outfield with 27 career defensive runs saved, with six last season. Margot ranked in the 97th percentile in OAA. Together these three players combined for 41 defensive runs saved in 2019, which is more than any other outfield in the American League.