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All-Time Rays Switch Hitters

There is a shortage of switch-hitters in the league. In January, MLB report there are only 24 switch-hitters. The Rays were lucky enough to have two switch-hitters on the team last season: Wander Franco and Taylor Walls. The Rays began this season with no switch-hitters. Franco was removed from the roster and Walls is on the injured list, recovering from a hip injury. A few weeks into the season, the Rays called up outfielder Niko Goodrum from Durham. Goodrum is the solo switch-hitter on the team.

Switch-hitters are extremely useful in the lineup. They disrupt the opposing pitcher’s rhythm. However, it has its drawbacks as will. Six-time All-Star Lance Berkman told MLB.com, “The disadvantage is you have two different swings to worry about.”

The Rays franchise has had 27 switch-hitters in their history. The 2005 and 2020 teams did not have a switch-hitter. However, the 2012 and 2022 teams each had five switch-hitters. Many of these players did not last on the team or in the league. A total of 19 of the 27 played for the Rays franchise for one season. All but six switch-hitters played in an infield position. Not one switch-hitter played for 10 years or more. So, who was the best switch-hitter in Rays franchise? Here is my list.

5. Quinton McCracken – McCracken was the Rays number four pick in the 1997 expansion draft. The outfielder was on the inaugural team and in the Opening Day lineup. He played a total of three years for the Devil Rays and batted a respectable .277. McCracken had above average speed which helped him on the basepaths. In his time on the D-Rays, McCracken is ranked fourth among franchise switch-hitters in solen bases with 25, hits with 220 and fifth with doubles with 44.

4. Taylor Walls – Home grown talent Taylor Walls is the only active player on my list. What Walls has accomplished is such a short time is remarkable. In his three seasons, Walls has already played the fifth most games compared to the other switch-hitters in the franchise history. His dismal .189 does not tell a true story. At this point, Walls is eighth or better in runs, hits, doubles, triples, stolen bases, and walks. Injuries have limited his playing time to 99 games last season.

3. Willy Aybar – Infielder Willy Aybar was acquired by the Rays by a trade with the Braves in 2008. In his first of three seasons with the Rays, Aybar played 95 games and collected 82 hits, 33 RBIs, and a mediocre .253 batting average. His ordinary performance was overshadowed by post-season play. In the 2008 League Championship Series, Aybar overpowered the Red Sox pitching. He batted .421 (8-19), three runs, two home runs, and a double in six games propelling the Rays to their first World Series appearance. Overall, Aybar is in the top five in all offensive categories for the Rays as a switch-hitter. For his timely hitting, I placed him third.

2. Randy Winn – The Rays drafted Winn in the expansion draft from the Marlins. In the five years in a Rays uniform, Winn has the highest batting average among all franchise switch-hitters at .279. Winn places second to all offensive categories, as a switch-hitter, such as games played runs, hits, doubles, triples, RBIs, stolen bases, and walks. Easy pick for number two.

1. Ben Zobrist – Acquired by a trade with the Astros, Ben Zobrist played every position in his nine years with the Rays. He has the longest tenure as a switch-hitter in the Rays franchise. It only makes sense that he dominates in all statistical categories compared to his switch-hitting peers. Zobrist has 85 more home runs than the next player. His 511 RBIs is almost three times more than Winn’s 182. His 21 post-season games are the most of all Rays switch-hitters also. He is, by far, the best switch-hitter in Rays franchise history.

It takes a special talent to make it to the major league. It takes even more special talent to be a switch-hitter.


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