Top Bounce-Back Candidates For 2023: Tampa Bay Rays

When you talk about bounce-back candidates, the Tampa Bay Rays really have two who stand out. Both play the middle infield, and both are poised for a return to prominence.

Brandon Lowe

The second baseman was hampered by back issues all season in 2022, leading to his first sub-par year in the bigs. After three straight seasons of an .850 or better OPS, Lowe struggled in his 65 injury-plagued games to post a .691 OPS while batting just .221. His career-high 39 HR and 99 RBIs in 2021 fell off a cliff to just 8 HR and 25 RBIs. 

He's back to good health, and according to president of baseball operations Erik Neander, "there's no reason to believe that there are likely to be any lingering effects.”

Expect a big bounce-back.

Wander Franco

For the 22-year-old, only a bounce-back to 'phenom' status will be sufficient. 

After an impressive 70-game debut in 2021, in which he batted .288 with an .810 OPS, showing glimpses of the top prospect tag that he came up to the majors with, frustrating injuries took their toll in 2022, and he managed to play just 83 games, while his numbers across the board dipped. 

But manager Kevin Cash is confident he's ready to come in this year and be the game-changing talent everyone always thought he'd be. 

“He’s a stud. If he can stay healthy, he’s going to do special things,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I’d like to think Wander is going to be better for all of that, what he went through, and know that he’s extremely motivated to get on the field, stay on the field and be the player we know he is.”

Photo: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports