Tampa Bay Rays – Where do you go Manuel Margot?
Manuel Margot has a career OPS+ of 87. He’s a great defender with fantastic speed and range in the outfield and on the basepaths. Conventional wisdom tells you that the contact-hitting speedster should leadoff, but the Rays are anything but conventional. 48% of Margot’s career plate appearances have come from the first spot in the lineup. In those 733 PAs, he has slashed an uninspiring .244/.288/.392.
On the other hand, Margot has excelled at the bottom of the lineup for some reason. In 208 PAs from the eight-hole, Margot has posted a .324 OBP and a .437 slugging percentage. Those are both vast improvements over his career averages of .301 OBP and .394 SLG.
With the move to the American League, Margot might be the perfect fit as the ninth hitter in the lineup.
Tampa Bay Rays – Yandy Diaz
Don’t forget about Yandy! Yandy Diaz came to the Rays with tons of power and an inability to get the ball in the air. His natural approach profiles as a top of the order bat. Sure, he has power, but he’s always been an on-base machine. Despite consistently hitting over half of his batted balls on the ground, he hits them so hard he maintains a high average. He is also very capable of taking a walk.
The added homers were a bonus last season. By far, he was at his best in the first two spots in the lineup. As a leadoff hitter, he slashed .337/.396/.590 (not counting his two-homer performance in the AL Wild Card game against Oakland. He posted a 151 sOPS+, far outperforming the rest of the league from the leadoff spot.
The Rays will dazzle us with a wide variety of lineup concoctions, but I expect to see a lot of Yandy Diaz and Austin Meadows at the top. What are your thoughts on how the rays can improve the production this season?