Last season, fantasy baseball players everywhere anxiously waited for the Tampa Bay Rays to call up Wil Myers. Everybody, everywhere, knew it was just a matter of time for the Rays to make that inevitable call and once they did, the young slugger certainly lived up to (and probably exceeded) expectations.
When Myers was called up in June, the Rays were in desperate need of an offensive boost. Myers provided that and as a result, he brought home the American League Rookie of the Year award. In 373 plate appearances, Myers scored 50 runs, knocked in 50 RBI, hit 13 home runs, stole five bases and tallied a .293 average.
Around this time last year, ESPN’s Keith Law wrote, “His (Myers’) swing is very simple and he has quick wrists to generate bat speed; he’s lengthened his stride for his game at-bats, giving him a longer finish for more power with the slight downside of some collapse on his back side, which probably explains the high strikeout rate in Triple.” If we look at Myers’ minor league career, we can see Law’s assessment play out through statistics.
In 2010, Myers, across two levels (A ball and A+), had 14 home runs in 447 at-bats to go along with a 17.4 percent strikeout percentage. In 2011, Myers had 354 at-bats in AA in which he hit eight home runs and had a 20.9 percent strikeout percentage. Prior to 2012 was when Myers made the adjustments to his swing and the results were 37 home runs and a 23.7 percent strikeout percentage in 522 at-bats across two levels (AA and AAA). Last season, if you combine his AAA numbers with his MLB numbers, Myers hit 27 home runs and struck out 24.5 percent of the time in 587 at-bats. The power in Myers’ bat is most certainly real — he was 41st last season in batted ball distance with an average distance of 293 feet — and as he grows into his new swing we should expect at least a slight decrease in his strikeout percentage.
I have Myers projected to hit .282 this season to go along with 24 home runs, 80 runs, 85 RBI and eight steals. I have the sophomore ranked 19th among outfielders heading into 2014 (ahead of Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton and Yoenis Cespedes) and I have him ranked 31st among batters (ahead of Evan Longoria, Hanley Ramirez and Ian Kinsler). I believe Myers is worthy of a fifth-round pick and if you can get him any later than that, you’ll be getting a tremendous value.