Whatever happened to the Legend of Super Sam?

As of early May this season, it seemed like a new legend may have been born in Tampa Bay. Although there was plenty of talent expected out of the Matt Garza trade, Sam Fuld wasn’t exactly a highlighted name when the trade was publicly announced across the nation. For a matter of fact, Samuel “Sam” Babson Fuld was many times given the title of “….and a minor league player”. Going into Spring Training, Fuld had a lot to prove. Although Fuld wasn’t a big name, the expectations weren’t so low. Without Crawford the Rays didn’t know who their left fielder would be. They knew they had options, but they were also aware that it was very unlikely they were going to have a close replacement to Crawford in the near future. Crawford was a big blow to the Rays at first, no Ray outfielder could potentially do all the things Crawford did in the previous year. Fuld took this opportunity, and made the best out of it. Although he only batted a mild .277 in Spring Training, Maddon liked what he saw and Fuld became the Rays Opening Day starter out in left. Fuld responded to this by starting of the season with a bang, exactly the opposite of the team. As the Rays continued to struggle in April, Fuld went on a tear with a 28-hit month. His name started to grab national attention in a heart-beat, and the Rays had another young player rise up in the baseball world. 20110918-042907.jpg
His name really started to get notice when he made a nearly impossible catch against the White Sox in Chicago. In didn’t take long at all before he was dubbed “Super Sam”. Amazing catch after amazing catch was made across ballparks in America, and it was clear that his glove was going to be his signature tool in the big leagues. As his career was building, so was the Rays win column. The Rays would keep on winning, but Sam Fuld average was rapidly dipping. Fuld cooled off offensively in May, hitting a low .157 average. But his speed on the basepads and his glovework in left field kept him in the lineup, and his legend alive. Although these things continued through the season, Fuld was just not getting it done at the plate. Maddon was pretty much forced to remove him from his everyday-starter role, and the legend began to slowly disintegrate. Then there were injuries and things got even worse for Fuld. Then phenom Desmond Jennings was called up, and ultimately took over the job in left field. 20110918-042924.jpg
Jennings’ call-up was a big boost for the team, but Fuld was almost totally forgotten at that point. Here we are in a tight race in mid-September, and Fuld is out with a hurt wrist and hasn’t played a game since late-August. Desmond Jennings is now the everyday-starter in left field, and Sam Fuld’s legend has virtually disappeared. Fuld still has a bright future ahead of him, and I truly believe that he will eventually restore the legend. Although his bat wasn’t so great in ’11, his glove and speed was still impressive. It wasn’t a bad rookie year at all, not many can light up the highlight reel like that guy. Hopefully he’ll be a Ray for a long time, and we’ll always have a fearless outfielder to count on. Wether he’s crashing in to walls, warming up on the mound, or wearing a cape; Sam Fuld was meant to be a Ray.

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5 Comments

Sam Fuld is resting. Biding his time. Letting his wounds heal. The Rays don’t absolutely need him right now. They’re kicking ass and taking names and generally on a Red Sox bashing tear right now. But eventually, in 2012, when they need him again, the Rays will light up that outfield divot shaped Sam Fuld signal and the legend will re-emerge stronger, faster, and more airborn than ever.
— Kristen

He is an awesome outfielder I hope he can still thrill us with those amazing catches in the future.

Stat geek here. In the book Scorecasting , which I would highly recmmoend, the authors discuss a concept of winning elasticity , that is, how a team’s attendance responds to their on-field record. The Chicago Cubs and White Sox are used as examples the Cubs draw nearly the same number of fans every year regardless of performance, where the White Sox only draw fans when the team does well. Unemployment rates usually do not have a huge correlation because the primary buyers of season tickets/single-game tickets are upper-midddle or upper-class folks who are unaffected by that rate. Then you have the Rays, whose numbers are affected in no way by record (if they were, we’d sell out every game), rather the regional geography and demographics. More Fortune 500 companies in Tampa = more white-collar people = more season ticket holders. The stadium being in St. Pete is a big factor.

Kristen- Hopefully that will be the case next year, the Rays can use every hit they can get in this division. It’s good that Jennings has given him a great opportunity to rest his body.
AF- I agree, and ya hopefully.

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