Exterior expectations were non-existent for Kiermaier, as he was drafted in the 31st round by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2010 MLB draft. A then 20-year-old Kiermaier batted .303 with 17 stolen bases in rookie ball, showing his potential, though he was at an early stage in his development.
Post rookie ball, Kiermaier struggled, batting only .241 in single-A in 2011, and .260 in high-A in 2012. In 2013, Kiermaier split his time between double and triple-A, batting a combined .295 with six home runs, 41 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 136 games.
Kiermaier’s first major league action came in 2014, where the 24-years-old batted .263 with 10 home runs, 35 RBIs and five stolen bases in 108 games. In 2015, Kiermaier had somewhat of a breakout season, batting .263 with 10 home runs, 40 RBIs and 18 stolen bases, while winning his first Gold Glove and placing 17th in the American League MVP vote.
His 2016 campaign was shortened due to a fractured wrist, which cost him all of June and the first half of July, but he still managed to win a second consecutive Gold Glove. During that season, the Rays record with Kiermaier in the lineup was 48-54 (.471), and 20-40 (.333) without him, showing his overall importance to the Rays success.
In 2017, Kiermaier got off to a slow start, batting just .220 with one home run, three RBIs and 13 runs in 26 games. He began to get back on track in May, batting .270 with five home runs, 14 RBIs and 16 runs in 30 games.
Unfortunately, Kiermaier fractured his hip on June 8, forcing him to miss two months. The 27-year-old returned on August 18 to bat .306 with eight home runs, 19 RBIs and 26 runs the rest of the way. Over the course of a full 162-game season, Kiermaier would be on pace to bat .276 with 24 home runs, 92 runs, 64 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.
Kiermaier spent the majority of 2017 batting either leadoff or second, putting him in an advantageous position to score and drive in runs. He clearly has the potential to bat .300, hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases over the course of a full season, making him absolutely fantasy relevant heading into 2018.
Kiermaier’s price on draft day is sure to be discounted, as he has a lengthy injury history, a reputation for being strictly defensive minded and plays for the low-profile Tampa Bay Rays. I would not be surprised to see Kiermaier on my fantasy team in 2018, as I believe his value will far exceed his cost.
Featured Image by DRaysBay.com
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