Season in Review: Tampa Bay Rays

A continuation of the series of retrospectives looking back at the regular season and how teams fared. They will be presented, from first to last, in order of their run differential as given by the BaseRuns formula, which I feel is the best measurement of a team’s actual talent level.

Number Three: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays continue the streak of well balanced teams, possessing the 5th best BaseRuns scored mark and the 6th best BaseRuns allowed mark. This lead to a BaseRuns differential of 121 in the positive column, which was well behind the Red Sox (186) and Cubs (151) for first and second, but was well ahead of tomorrow’s featured fourth place team.

One aspect that has been noted but somewhat overlooked as a quantity was strength of schedule, which was brutal for this year’s crop of teams in the American League East. The top five hardest schedules this season belonged to the five members of that division and that includes the Rays who topped them all.

A poor (for him) season for Scott Kazmir was made up for by a huge step forward for control artist Andy Sonnanstine and Matt Garza making good on the trade that cost the Rays Delmon Young and others. In addition to those two in the rotation, and another good year from James Shields, was Grant Balfour taking over the spotlight in the bullpen and J.P. Howell moving out of the rotation where he was so-so and becoming dynamite in some needed long relief situations.

On the hitting side, it was a big up tick in production from Dioner Navarro and the emergence of Evan Longoria, which allowed the Rays to move Upton off the infield which not only improved the offense but greatly improved the defense.

What does the future hold for the Rays? It looks nothing but bright as David Price emerges on the scene, Scott Kazmir would be likely to rebound and Evan Longoria is probably only going to get better. With both the Rays and Red Sox looking strong for the next few years, we could have a new power duo in the east.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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