Cameron Pleasant

How is it possible? How can a team with a payroll of $66.7 million, the 4th lowest in the sport, can be the best team in the American League and a top 3 team in all of baseball? Not to mention they don’t have their top 2 starting pitchers from a year ago on their current roster, and their current Ace Tyler Glasnow is out for the season with an elbow injury. The answer lies within their unbelievable development of players, specifically players who other teams previously gave up on, or did not value enough to keep them on their roster. The Rays turn these players from no names, into stars. Just a few examples are Randy Arozarena, Austin Meadows, Pete Fairbanks, Andrew Kittredge. These are players that the casual baseball fan may know nothing about, but they make huge impacts on their team. Randy Arozarena set a single postseason home run record last year with 10 home runs in the Rays playoff run. Austin Meadows currently has the 6th most RBIs in all of baseball with 97. Andrew Kittredge was an All-Star reliever this season and holds a 1.38 ERA. Pete Fairbanks has become a top-of-the-line reliever/closer for the Rays. As a team, the Rays are 13th in team batting average. So how do they win so many games? Well, they are 1st in runs scored, 5th in home runs as a team but 2nd in total strikeouts. They sacrifice batting average in order to hit more home runs and score more runs. The Rays are an elite defensive team. They have a committed platoon system. They play the matchups and exploit the weaknesses of their opponent. The Rays get the platoon advantage, meaning they play their left-handed batters against right-handed pitching, and right-handed batters against left-handed pitching about as much as any team. This gives them an automatic advantage against other teams. They have a bunch of specialists on their team, which allows them to play the matchups at an elite level. They have players who can play multiple positions in the field, which allows them to cover injuries while keeping their best team on the field. Tampa Bay’s bullpen is one of the biggest mysteries in all of sports. They take players who are either failures or misfits with other teams, they see some sort of potential in the player, and they will always get the best possible performance out of them. Their development of pitchers is as good as any development system in baseball. And at the helm of all this wizardry is the reigning manager of the year Kevin Cash. Cash has completely turned this Rays franchise around from mediocrity into World Series contender year in and year out.