After this crazy season, we saw the champions of baseball finally crowned in Arlington, Texas, this past week. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the 2020 World Series Champions at the expense of the Tampa Bay Rays. However, there is something to still cheer about, even if you may not like the Rays. Joey Wendle, second baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays just so happens to be an alumnus of West Chester University.
The former Golden Ram played a full four seasons here at West Chester, graduating a part of the Class of 2012. Wendle was later drafted in the 2012 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians, working through the minor leagues for several years after, until he was traded by the Indians to the Oakland Athletics. He later finally made his major league debut on Aug. 31, 2016. He has since played 300 games and has had over one thousand regular season at bats, until the former Golden Ram finally got his crack at the postseason. After being traded by the Athletics to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017, the former Golden Ram finally got a shot at playing consistently in the majors, even impressing Rays Manager Kevin Cash and making the 2018 Opening Day team.
At second base in the 2018 season, he finished fourth in the American League Rookie of The Year Award standings, and into the 2019 season, Wendle had 55 hits in 75 games played as well as 32 runs scored on the year. Looking to 2020, the Tampa Bay Rays were sure contenders to get into the playoffs and win the American League East division over the dominant New York Yankees. Barely anyone picked them, however, which led Wendle and the Rays to go out and prove them wrong.
The Rays in 2020 had ended the regular season with a record of 40–20 as well as the first seed in the American League. Wendle had finally broken into the postseason as the Rays were in the driver’s seat to head to their first World Series appearance in 12 years. As the Rays advanced, Wendle had some playing time of his own. With only seven appearances in the Wild Card and Divisional Series, the Golden Ram alumnus garnered a total of 19 at-bats, five runs scored as well as six total hits. In the American League Championship, Wendle played in all seven games of the series. Totaling 21 at-bats, two runs scored and three hits against the Houston Astros in seven games. While the Rays had pushed forward onto the World Series, the National League had the returning Dodgers come to make their final push after not being able to get the job done, year after year, in the fall classic. In the six games that were played in this year’s World Series, Wendle played in all of them. He totaled 18 at-bats with one run scored, two hits and three RBI’s as the Rays fell to the Dodgers in six games.
All in all, Joey Wendle is one outstanding athlete and one fine representative of our Golden Rams on the big stage. Many may not think that athletes from our state school may be noticed by the pros, but here is a true example of getting to the top of the mountain, working from the very bottom. Even if he did not win the big one this year, Tampa looks ready and hungry to come back for another shot at the World Series trophy, and I would not be surprised if this was not the last we saw of Wendle on the grandest stage in baseball.
Jeff Babcock is a fourth-year student majoring in communications and minoring in journalism. JB884128@wcupa.edu