Tampa Bay Rays: Austin Meadows Needs to Play Like an MVP in 2020
Last season the Tampa Bay Rays finished the regular season with a record of 96-66 and were bounced in the ALDS by Houston 3-2. However, if they want to be considered a World Series caliber team they’ll need Austin Meadows to lead the way with his bat.
The 24-year old pounded the baseball for a total of 33 home runs and 89 RBIs for the second-place Rays.
Meadows who will be entering his second full year in the big leagues was Tampa’s offensive leader in homers, batting average, on-base percentage and triples last season.
The lefty will need to keep giving the Rays’ lineup a consistent boost during the season, especially since they traded Tommy Pham during the offseason to San Diego. Pham was Tampa’s leader in hits and doubles last year.
Meadows got an All-Star nod last season and finished 19th in the American League in overall batting.
What sticks out?
Meadows is a great pull-ball slugger and played good defense, whether he slides, jumped or used his arm to make a big play.
The former Pittsburgh Pirate has a calm presence on the field and understands how to launch a baseball into the seats, which includes his ability to slash the ball the other way from time to time.
The Grayson High School product showed why he was a high prospect just a few years ago.
Time to shine
Of course, there’s a chance Meadows will deal with growing pains in 2020. However, with his demeanor and exceptional swing, I’m not concerned with that at all.
The Rays have been hoping to be a contender with a cast of young players and Meadows will need to continue to stand out since he appears to be their best player.
One thing to think about is Meadow’s ability to hit good pitchers. He had a tough time against Gerrit Cole (0-12, seven Ks), Justin Verlander (1-9, solo HR, two BB) and Masahiro Tanaka (3-11, solo HR, 2 BB).
Future of the Rays
Of course, you can’t forget their bullpen with Diego Castillo, Chaz Roe and Jose Alvarado leading the way. Tampa dealt Emilio Pagan to San Diego for center fielder Manuel Margot and catcher/outfield prospect Logan Driscoll.
Hopes for 2020
It’s still amazing to think about how Pittsburgh traded Meadows to Tampa, but if he can deliver as the “main guy” and continue to play at a high level then I would expect him to be in the MVP conversation, or at least he should be. With that being said, he would show the Pirates why trading him was the wrong move.
There’s no telling how good this guy can be this year and beyond, but like many of you, I’m excited to watch Austin Meadows play this season, especially when his power is on full display.
Do you believe Meadows is a future MVP candidate? Leave a comment below.
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