Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Wil Myers didn’t make his major league debut until June 18, playing in just over a half season in 2013. But it was more than enough to impress Rookie of the Year voters.
Myers easily captured the American League Rookie of the Year Award on Monday, collecting 23 of 30 first-place votes. Shortstop Jose Iglesias, who was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Detroit Tigers in late July, finished in second place.
The 2013 rookie class in the American League was without question lacking in depth. While the National League featured budding stars in St. Louis Cardinals starting pitchers Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, the American League was lacking in rookie star power.
Myers started the season at Triple-A Durham after being acquired by the Rays from the Kansas City Royals during the offseason. Myers was the centerpiece of the deal in which the Royals received starting pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis.
Myers was a highly-regarded hitting prospect when he was chosen in the third round of the 2009 MLB draft by the Royals. A catcher at the time, Myers quickly showed why he was given a $2 million signing bonus, hitting .369 with five home runs and 18 RBI in just 22 games at the Rookie League level in 2009.
He continued impressing in 2010, hitting .315 with 14 home runs and 83 RBI in his first full professional season. During the offseason, the Royals decided to transition Myers from behind the plate to the outfield, an obvious attempt to take advantage of his considerable hitting skills while helping to protect his overall health.
In 2012, Myers put forth a season that was simply outstanding. He led all of the minor leagues with 37 home runs, hitting a combined .314 at the Double and Triple-A levels.
But the Royals were a franchise in shambles. They had a wealth of solid young position players but lacked overall pitching depth. Needing an ace at the top of their rotation, they consummated the deal with the Rays that added Shields to the top of their starting rotation, giving up Myers in the process.
Considering what Myers delivered in just more than half a season in 2013, it’s a deal that the Royals could someday regret. Myers made his debut on June 18 and ended up hitting .293 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI. He provided the offensively-challenged Rays with solid production in the middle of the batting order, and gives the Rays a great partner on the right side of the plate alongside third baseman Evan Longoria.
A Longoria-Myers combination in the Nos. 3 and 4 holes in the batting order could be lethal for years to come. Longoria is just 28 years old and signed through the 2022 season. Myers is just 22 and under team control for at least five more years.
Myers was the offensive weapon the Rays had been searching for to complement Longoria, and they still have depth in their starting rotation. It’s important to note that teammate and starting pitcher Chris Archer also had a solid first season, finishing third in Rookie of the Year balloting.
The Rays gave up a lot in Shields, but in receiving Myers in return, they also helped set up their offense for the foreseeable future. Judging from the results in 2013, it’s a decision they likely don’t regret one little bit.