Rays first baseman/outfielder Harold Ramirez left today’s game after being hit on his hand by a pitch. The club later announced to reporters, including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, that he has a broken right thumb and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
Ramirez, 27, has been somewhat quietly having an excellent breakout season in Tampa. Although he’s only walking 6.1% of the time, he’s also only striking out at a 13.7% clip, producing a batting line of .329/.376/.446. The resulting wRC+ of 141 indicates he’s been 41% better than the league average hitter. Among hitters with at least 250 plate appearances, that’s the 23rd highest mark across the majors, just ahead of Pete Alonso.
While any team would surely suffer to lose that kind of production for a few weeks, it’s especially noteworthy for a Rays team that’s had a host of injuries to deal with, including in the outfield. When Ramirez is inevitably placed on the injured list, he will join Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot. In Kiermaier’s case, his injury has the potential to be season-ending, per Topkin, though more details will come on that after he sees a specialist in the weeks to come. Margot might return at some point this season, but not soon. Even if Ramirez’s thumb is okay in a couple of weeks, he will likely need to get in some rehab work in order to get back into game shape.
That leaves the club with Randy Arozarena, Josh Lowe, Brett Phillips and Luke Raley as their regular outfielders. Arozarena is having another good season, but the rest are all hitting at below-average rates right now, with none of the three producing a wRC+ higher than 71 on the year, coming into today’s game. Brandon Lowe has played outfield in the past but only just returned from the IL in the last couple of days. He played second base yesterday but is the designated hitter today. Vidal Bruján is in the minors and could be recalled, though he also struggled in his MLB action this year, producing a wRC+ of just 41.
Despite all their injury woes, the Rays began today in the top American League Wild Card spot with a record of 50-41, meaning they will likely look to do some buying ahead of the August 2 trade deadline. There were a number of outfielders featured on MLBTR’s recent list of top trade candidates, including Andrew Benintendi, David Peralta, Ian Happ, and many others.