Rays History

Tampa Bay Rays: What Happened to Jorge Cantu?

By Seth Carter
Tampa Bay's Jorge Cantu handles this throw as Arizona's Eric Byrnes successfully steals second base during Tuesday night's action at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 20, 2006. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Tampa Bay's Jorge Cantu handles this throw as Arizona's Eric Byrnes successfully steals second base during Tuesday night's action at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 20, 2006. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /
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The Tampa Bay Rays have had a lot of good players over the years. Today we take a look at what happened to Jorge Cantu.

If you take a look at the Tampa Bay Rays all-time record books, you may notice Jorge Cantu near the top of some key categories.

Sort by doubles and you’ll see that Cantu holds the seventh-most doubles in a season by a Rays player with 40 two-batters in 2005. Cantu’s 28 homers that same season are good enough to tie him for the 17th most homers in a single Rays season.

Only one player has ever posted more RBI in a single season than Cantu’s 117 in 2005.

Jorge was an interesting study. His best season with the Rays he hit .286 with only 83 strikeouts while hitting the aforementioned 40 doubles and 28 homers. He also only walked 19 times that season. He wasn’t a  patient hitter, but he did damage.

Cantu played at second and third base that season, and like the rest of his career, negative defensive runs saved would follow him.

Cantu slashed .249/.295/.404 the following season with 14 homers in 107 games. Over the previous two seasons, he was sitting on a 162-game average of 27 homers and 113 RBI. He boasted a .271 average in that span with a commendable .459 slugging percentage but his .304 OBP would ding his OPS+ and other metrics that emphasized the ability to get on base.

His 2006 season was a step back from his breakout 2005 but he was dealing with injuries. In the spring of 2007, he was beaten out by B.J. Upton and Ty Wigginton and was cut from the major league roster.

Cantu essentially threw a fit about the demotion and was traded to the Reds in 2007. Just like that, all the hope from that 2005 season had disappeared. Cantu ended up in Florida playing for the Marlins where he had a couple of nice seasons and even improved his on-base percentage to a more respectable .327 in 2008 and .345 in 2009.

In those two seasons, he blasted 83 doubles, 45 homers, and 195 RBI while slashing a respectable .283/.336/.462. He didn’t become Joey Votto but he did learn to take a walk or two.

The subsequent two seasons, Cantu slashed .242/.287/.367. Those numbers combined with his lack of defense would essentially put an end to his major-league career. Cantu played his final big-league game at the age of 29-years-old.

Next. Revisiting the Evan Longoria Trade. dark

At the end of the day, Cantu finished his big-league career with three seasons of 40 or more doubles and some other impressive power numbers. When things were clicking with the bat, he was a force on offense. I’ll never say I’m not impressed when a player dominates in one way or another against major-league competition. Major League Baseball players are the best of the best in the world and Jorge Cantu was one of them for eight seasons.

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