Tampa Bay Rays wide receiver Mike Zunino stands out despite low batting average
The murmur around Tampa Bay has become that the Rays lost their ALDS playoff series with Boston due to a talented but inexperienced young pitching staff.
That analysis may be partly true, but as the Rays move forward into 2022, it will be with this young pitching staff that has added some experience to their talent.
The question for the Rays is, “Who will these young pitchers be pitching at?” “
Before the end of the 2021 season, the answer might have been straightforward. Maybe it got a little cloudy. The question arises around receiver Mike Zunino.
Zunino’s current deal with the Rays includes a 2022 club option that started at $ 4 million but has now grown to $ 7 million due to incentives. The option would increase to $ 7 million if Zunino played more than 100 games, which he did.
Zunino played 109 games for the Rays, which seems questionable given his slash line of 0.216 / 0.301 / 0.559 (batting average, base percentage and stroke percentage). This season, however, Zunino has hit 33 home runs.
Ray catcher Mike Zunino can crush the ball
His offensive production made him the third-highest rated receiver in the American League in wRC +. FanGraphs.com defines it as:
Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC +) measures how a player’s wRC compares to the league average after controlling for park effects. The league average for positional players is 100.
Zunino had 134 wRC +, placing him behind Yasmani Grandal (159) and Mitch Garver (137). Rays manager Kevin Cash has repeatedly praised Zunino’s defensive work, noting that it becomes acquired after a while and may not even be realized.
Zunino has also been praised for his handling of pitchers, mainly because Zunino is seen as selfless and primarily concerned with getting the best pitching performance than with himself.
It doesn’t matter either, but Zunino is originally from Florida, having attended Mariner High School in Cape Coral and then the University of Florida. It would be nice to keep a boy from Florida at home.
There was a time when a receiver hitting .216 was anathema to me, especially when he hitting almost 40 percent of the time.
Still, it looks like it would be an easy decision for the Rays, but as we have seen, nothing is an easy decision for the Rays. In the end, however, they make the right decision.
Considering who else is available in the market, bringing Zunino back should be an easy decision.