The Rays JV Squad

The Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays are the three best teams in baseball. The AL East is a powerhouse division like we haven’t seen in a long, long time. When you look at their rosters, you see all-stars and MVP candidates abound. But the strength of those teams doesn’t just lie with their everyday regulars, but also in the depth that they have accumulated to safeguard themselves from injuries. The Red Sox and Yankees build up strong reserves by flexing their financial advantage, but the Rays have done it through numerous shrewd acquisitions and player development over the last few years.

In fact, I think there’s a case to be made that Tampa Bay’s junior varsity squad could hold their own against some full scale major league clubs. Take a look at this potential roster of guys who don’t have regular gigs with the Rays and their wOBA projections from CHONE.

Catcher: John Jaso, .323 wOBA
First Base: Chris Richard, .326 wOBA
Second Base: Adam Kennedy, .296 wOBA
Shortstop: Ray Olmedo, .301 wOBA
Third Base: Willy Aybar, .336 wOBA
Left Field: Ben Zobrist, .330 wOBA
Center Field: Fernando Perez, .312 wOBA
Right Field: Matt Joyce, .318 wOBA

Bench: Morgan Ensberg (.329 wOBA), Justin Ruggiano (.333 wOBA), Elliot Johnson (.286 wOBA), Chris Nowak (.319 wOBA), Michael Hernandez (.300 wOBA)

#1 Starter: Mitch Talbot, 4.57 FIP
#2 Starter: Jeff Niemann, 4.96 FIP
#3 Starter: Jason Hammel, 4.98 FIP
#4 Starter: Jeremy Cummings, 5.27 FIP
#5 Starter: Wade Davis, 5.28 FIP

Closer: Jason Isringhausen, 4.73 FIP
Setup: Jason Childers, 4.50 FIP
Setup: Jason Cromer, 4.65 FIP
Middle: Dewon Day, 4.62 FIP
Middle: Dale Thayer, 4.56 FIP
Loogy: Randy Choate, 4.27 FIP
Long: Jeremy Hellickson, 4.62 FIP

That’s a complete 25 man roster from the extra parts that the Rays don’t have jobs for.

Overall, the offense projects to about a .320 wOBA, assuming the manager was smart enough to run platoons with Richard/Ensberg and Joyce/Ruggiano and everyone stayed healthy – 8 major league teams finished with a wOBA of less than .320 in 2008.

The defense projects to league average or a little bit better – Perez, Joyce, and Kennedy are plus defenders, Aybar, Zobrist, and Olmedo are average-ish, while Jaso and Richard are below average.

The pitching projects to about a 4.8 FIP – there’s some useful arms there, but it obviously lacks a top notch talent, since it’s a collection of #5 starters and middle relievers.

Still, though, a .320 wOBA, average to above average defense, and a 4.8 FIP – we’re looking at a team that would score about 700 runs and give up about 825 runs. That’s a .415ish winning percentage, or about a 66 win team over a full season.

The collection of guys the Rays have in camp that they don’t have jobs for projects to be only marginally worse than the Royals and Astros.

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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