AL East Positional Rankings: Pre-Season RF Rankings Verdict – Ugly

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 19: Left fielder Joey Rickard
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 19: Left fielder Joey Rickard /
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3. Tampa Bay Rays – Steven Souza Jr.

I ranked Souza fourth heading into the season, wondering if he would cut down on his strikeouts and become a more balanced hitter. The answers are no and yes. Souza hit .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 21 doubles, 78 runs batted in and 78 runs scored in 148 games, with 179 strikeouts.

Just like Bautista, he also walked 84 times. This, coming from a guy who walked 31 times in 2016 and struck out 159 times in 28 fewer games is an improvement. The slugging percentage was also up 50 points, and the on-base percentage nearly 50 points. So, it was a better season, even though the average was lower than 2016.

Souza actually finished with a 3.5 offensive WAR, which is a major plus for the offensively challenged Rays, and a 0.2 defensive WAR for a net of 4.2. Souza also made five errors in right field (and another in center in only 15 innings). His range also was quite poor, but he was seven defensive runs saved above average.

The good news is that he continues to improve offensively and defensively every year, and will likely be the Rays’ starting right fielder in 2018.