Jeff Keppinger a smart pickup for thrifty Rays

3 Comments

Counting on Carlos Pena, Matt Joyce and Luke Scott to fill key roles this year, the Rays had set themselves up to have huge problems against lefties in the bottom half of the order. That was alleviated somewhat today with the signing of Jeff Keppinger.

Of course, Keppinger doesn’t play the same position as any of those guys, but that’s where the Rays’ versatility and ability to adapt kicks in. Ben Zobrist was looking at a full-time role at second base this year. Now he’ll likely play right field and maybe some first base against lefties, with Keppinger taking his spot.

The Rays still have to decide how exactly they’re going to comprise their bench. Keppinger will get one spot and the backup catcher (currently either Jose Lobaton or Robinson Chirinos another). That leaves two places for infielders Reid Brignac and Elliot Johnson and outfielders Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer. Brignac and Fuld are both left-handed hitters, which would seem to work against them here, but Fuld at least is probably going to have a job anyway.

My opinion is that the Rays should forget about Fuld and bring in a right-handed hitter (Conor Jackson?) to claim that spot. As is, they’re still looking at starting two from the group of Pena, Joyce and Scott against southpaws and that’s far from ideal. Pena hit .133/.260/.333 in 120 at-bats against lefties last season. Joyce came in at .217/.287/.370 in 92 at-bats. Scott, who missed much of the season with a shoulder injury, was at .167/.225/.556 in 36 at-bats.

Keppinger is an obvious upgrade from that group (he hit .290/.292/.484 in 93 at-bats against lefties last year and is at .324/.371/.481 for his career), and his arrival will also improve the defense a bit, not because he’s a better second baseman than Zobrist but because Zobrist is a terrific right fielder. For $1.525 million, he was an excellent find for one of the league’s brightest teams.

Rangers turn the sort of triple play that has not been done in 106 years

Associated Press
6 Comments

Triple plays are rare. Triple plays in which only two players touch the ball are even more rare. But last night the Texas Rangers turned a triple play that was even more rare than that. Indeed, it was the sort of triple play that had not been turned since a couple of months after the Titanic sank.

Here’s how it went down:

With the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth inning, David Fletcher of the Angels hit a sharp one-hopper, fielded by third baseman Jurickson Profar. He stepped on third, getting the runner on second base in a force out. He then quickly tagged Taylor Ward, who had been on third base but had broken, thinking the ball was going to get through, and who froze before figuring out what to do. Profar then threw to Rougned Odor, who stepped on second to force the runner out who had been on first. Watch:

Like a lot of weird triple plays, not everyone was sure what had happened immediately. Odor, for example, had already made the third out when he touched the bag but he still attempted to tag out the runner from first, likely not yet having processed it all. The announcer wasn’t aware of it either. Understandable given how fast it all happened. It took me a couple of times watching it to figure it all out.

The historic part of it: according to STATS, Inc., it was the first triple play in 106 years in which the batter was not retired. The last time it happened: June 3, 1912, turned by the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Cincinnati Reds.