Friday, May 2, 2014

The All-Time Major League Baseball Teams: Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were the AL East's expansion team in 1998. During their existence as the Devil Rays they were the punching bag for the rest of the AL East. When the changed their name from the Devil Rays to the Rays and with all their draft picks finally made it to the Majors, they became relevant. There were however players that put up above average seasons as Devil Rays too.

 We will start with the line up.
 Leading off and playing Left Field, Carl Crawford. Crawford was the face of the franchise when the Rays were good and when they were bad. A gold glover in Left Field and one of the best base stealers in baseball. He wasn't just a base stealer. He used his speed, as well as gap power, to be a leader in triples and doubles.
 Batting second and playing Shortstop, Jason Bartlett. Out of all the players that have played Shortstop for the Rays, Bartlett had the best single season. A high batting average and the ability to take the walk made him a key piece for the Rays.
 Batting third, the Designated Hitter, Aubrey Huff. Before he won a title with the Giants, Huff was playing Right Field, First Base and DHing for the Rays. Huff put up a couple under the radar great seasons. Bordering 200 hits and hitting over 40 doubles. He didn't drawn too many walks, but he didn't need to when he got 200 hits.
 Batting cleanup and playing Third Base, Evan Longoria. The current face of the franchise and on field leader, has been a force since his rookie year. A Gold Glove defender and offensive force, Longoria does just about everything the Rays need him to do.
 Batting fifth and playing First Base, Carlos Pena. After bouncing around for while, Pena found a home in Tampa. He proceeded to reward the Rays with an MVP caliber season and Gold Glove Defense. He put up monster home run seasons for the Rays, becoming the franchise leader in Home Runs. Evan Longoria has since broken that record.
 Batting sixth and playing Right Field, Ben Zobrist. The switch hitting, utility man has been a main piece for Rays for many years. Zobrist can play almost any position and play it well. He can hit doubles, home runs and steal bases. His On-Base Percentage is the strength that I like the most.
 Batting seventh and playing Second Base, Jorge Cantu. Cantu never had a chance to play on the American League Champion Rays, but he did put up some great seasons for the Devil Rays. Hitting almost 30 home runs and driving in over 100 RBI, he had another under the radar season for the Devil Rays.
 Batting eighth and Catching, John Flaherty. The Rays have never had a great offensive catcher, but John Flaherty was the closest to a plus offensive season. He was a plus fielder however and important to their pitching staff.
 Batting ninth and playing Center Field, B.J. Upton. The older Upton brother debuted and looked like he would be 30-30 hitter every season. Things don't always work out that way. He did however put up plus home runs for the Center Field position. He was a plus defender and stole plenty of bases. He's batting ninth so Crawford can drive him in.
 The Rays have built their teams around pitching and have had some great pitchers come and go.
The Rotation looks like this.
  1. David Price*               2.56/31/31/205/59/211/2/1/20-5/1.10 (150 ERA+)
  2. James Shields             2.82/33/33/225/65/249/11/4/16-12/1.04 (134 ERA+)
  3. Scott Kazmir*            3.48/34/34/239/89/206/0/0/13-9/1.37 (130 ERA+)
  4. Rolando Arrojo          3.56/32/32/152/65/202/2/2/14-12/1.28 (133 ERA+)
  5. Jeremy Hellickson     2.95/29/29/117/72/189/2/1/13-10/1.15 (128 ERA+)
A great rotation for todays standards, but an average at best for the All-Time Teams.
Their bullpen however, may be the best.
  1. Fernando Rodney    0.60/76/0/76/15/74/65/48/2-2/0.77
  2. Joaquin Benoit        1.34/63/0/75/11/60/16/1/1-1/0.68
  3. Jake McGee*          1.95/69/0/73/11/55/13/0/5-2/0.79
  4. Grant Belfour         1.54/51/0/81/24/58/12/4/6-2/0.89
  5. Alex Cobb              2.76/22/22/134/45/143/0/0/11-3/1.15
  6. Matt Garza             3.70/30/30/128/59/184/0/0/11-9/1.24
With Rodney putting up one of the top five closing seasons of all time, the back end of the Rays bullpen is bordering on unhittable. It is their biggest strength and possibly the best back end bullpen out of every All-Time Teams.
The Bench is solid bench and probably one they would use now.
  • Julio Lugo           .295/89/182/36/6/06/57/39/.362
  • Dioner Navarro   .295/43/126/27/0/07/54/0/.349
  • Ty Wiggington    .275/55/122/25/1/24/79/4/.330
  • Randy Winn        .298/87/181/39/9/14/75/27/.360
  • Delmon Young   .288/65/186/38/0/13/93/10/.316
Delmon Young and Julio Lugo are their go to offensive bench players and Ty Wiggington is their back up corner infielder, who can hit home runs. Navarro has always been solid, but was best when he was with the Rays. And Randy Winn was a good speed and power combo, with excellent defense.
Their starting line-up would look like this.
  1. Carl Crawford    .301/101/194/33/15/15/81/48/.331
  2. Jason Bartlett     .320/90/160/29/7/14/66/30/.389
  3. Aubrey Huff       .311/91/198/47/3/34/107/2/.364
  4. Evan Longoria   .281/100/164/44/0/33/113/9/.364
  5. Carlos Pena        .282/99/138/29/1/46/121/1/.411
  6. Ben Zobrist        .297/91/149/28/7/27/91/17/.405
  7. Jorge Cantu        .286/73/171/40/1/28/117/1/.311
  8. John Flaherty     .278/53/124/19/0/14/71/0/.310
  9. B.J. Upton         .300/86/142/25/1/24/82/22/.386
Now since Joe Maddon would be their manager, this line-up could change frequently. This line-up would probably be at the top of the AL East if they were playing together this year, but with money troubles and lack of fan support, it just wasn't meant to be. Would the Rays put up a fight against the rest of the All-Time Teams? Some what. This is baseball after all.
Next team will be the Arizona Diamondbacks.