There’s a New Historic # 8 in Tampa Bay

Picking the number 8 Tampa Bay Rays jersey can lead to people throwing high expectations, even lofty comparisons upon your shoulder in a heart beat. For that was the same Rays uniform number that fellow speed demon Carl Crawford took for himself when he embarked on his own rookie campaign with the team.

So far in this 36 game spread, I am beginning to forget that other #8 as this one is doing some amazing things to make even the Rays biggest skeptics give a little sheepish grin. Seems like the stars and universe have come and cosmically aligned for Jennings as he was brought up on July 23rd by the Rays almost mirror-imaging Crawford’s own July 20, 2002 call-up.

Immediately Jennings got to do something Crawford could never do as a Ray, solidify the lead-off spot and make it productive. Since his arrival in Tampa Bay, Jennings has produced at such a terrifying rate that he ranks second on the Rays (after MLB leader/teammate Evan Longoria) in round trippers since the All-Star break with 8. Hmm, there is that mystic number again.

But Jennings haven’t let the stat-heads within the Rays Republic rest as he has a few impressive stats of his own since his July 23rd 2011 debut . Jennings currently leads the majors in stolen bases (14) has 42 hits (19 for extra bases) maintaining ans insane .354 batting average along with a skyrocketing .646 Slugging percentage. Suddenly that old # 8 is beginning to fade from my memory.

Need another reason to erase a bit of Crawford from your Rays rookie mindset, in 2002, Crawford appeared in 63 of the Rays final 67 games that season. He sported a .259 Batting Average with 2 Home Runs, 30 RBI’s and 9 stolen bases. Jennings has already eclisped all of the RBI total already from a fresh and invigorated Crawford’s rookie totals.

Wild part is, this kid is just getting started. Someone with a whole lot of time on their hands today (@RaysRepublic) even decided to try and figure out the seasonal numbers of both Crawford and Jennings if each played a 162 game season. Remarkably Jennings would trump even the 2011 edition of Crawford with an estimated 38 Home Runs and 67 Stolen Bases. Crawford would have posted 14 HR and 26 SB.

You do not want to anoint Jennings as the “ second coming” of anyone, much less Crawford. But since Jennings arrival in Tampa Bay his elevator has been sprinting towards the penthouse instead of the 8th floor. I kind of hoped this kind of drama would play out where the C C comparisons would be leveled by those skeptics and believers that players like Crawford come once in a lifetime.

Jennings has done his job so far in making a lot of us in the Rays Republic look past the afterglow of the “C C Era” and dream heavenly thoughts of the future “D J’s Adventure”. Both men left their game totally on the field every night trying to produce, excite and provide something new, thought provoking and jaw dropping.

So far Jennings has surpassed so much of C C’s legendary rookie escapades, and we still have over a month left of the Rays 2011 season. The Rays finally found that 2011 piece of the puzzle they have been searching for and have begun to their wagon to this budding young star on his meteoric rise.

I truly can’t wait for Monday night’s Toronto Blue Jays game to see what Desmond has in store for us….I bet it will make a little more of Crawford’s past fade into the darkness. There’s a new #8 in town, and his name is Desmond Jennings. 

4 Comments

I think Jennings will have a long successful career matching everything Crawford does in his. Jennings really has shown that he has the power ability, and is not just a average hitter with terrific speed.
http://yossif.mlblogs.com/ (The Rays Rant)

Yossif,
Based on just a small sampling, Jennings will surpass in a few places Crawford did not excel. That statement by itself can be a bit daunting, but having power in your bat can change the complexity of a game with 1 swing. Plus, with the Rays finally finding an adequate lead-off guy, it relaxs the line-up to play their game.
Jennings will have his ups and downs, but I already have forgotten what Crawford looks like…..

Desmond Jennings looks like he’ll have the ability to do what Crawford did for about 1/5th the price (until he reaches arbitration anyway.) Friedman never seemed all that concerned when Crawford’s contract came up and now it’s easy to see why.

http://bluejaysnest.mlblogs.com/

BlueJay,
We already knew in the Rays system there was a replacement for CC. We just didn’t know the kid was going to hit the MLB with his hair on fire and put up some tremendous numbers. Some surprises in life are good.
Rays will have that kind of reserve talent in their system for the next 5-10 years…Scary that the payroll might not purge towards the top, but the talent pool will flow along with the wins.

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