By Ryan Catoe
The outlaw is back in Tampa! This has been a brutal season for the Tampa Bay Rays. The aces have not lived up to the hype and the offense has not been able to make up for the lack of dominant pitching. You throw in some key injuries and you have got all the ingredients for a miserable season. Nothing that the team has inserted has been able to make up for the key losses that the team has faced through free agency, trades and injuries. The one very bright spot in the organization however, is Kevin Kiermaier. What do you lose in a player like the Outlaw when he is out? You lose the player who lead the majors in Defensive Runs Saved. He set the highest recorded number of 42 runs saved; the highest total since the stat has been recorded. He has some good pop in his bat, but he is a much more formidable defensive player than he is an offensive threat.
Could the sudden drop off in pitching have anything to do with his absence? Kiermaier was also the reigning AL Gold Glove AND Platinum Glove as well. The man is a walking highlight film in the outfield. When he is playing back in center, it immediately elevates both of the corner outfielders. The range that he can cover is almost untouched. If you ever get a chance to watch him play, you will not be disappointed. He makes playing the outfield an art. Hitters have even been fooled thinking they’ll have a stand up double just to be left confused walking to the dugout after a diving flyout. Home runs have become long outs. What should be an easy pop fly becomes a second thought. The Outlaw is an error eraser and can be the difference between a 3 run blooper and an easy out.
If you want to catch a glimpse of one of the elite center fielders in the big leagues check out this link.
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