The Tampa Bay Rays are the team that just keeps shocking everyone with how well they do year in and year out. Yet again this year the Rays sit atop the AL East to go along with the second-best record in all of baseball. The Rays made the World Series last season which was a great accomplishment but it was quickly written off because of the “Covid-19” season with the regular-season schedule only being 60 games. Well, this isn’t a covid shortened season and they sit atop beating out teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays who, to be honest, have more talent on their teams than that of Tampa but it still doesn’t matter. So how do the Rays continue to be a threat in one of the toughest divisions in baseball with a 2021 payroll of $70,851,888 ranking 26th overall in all of baseball, according to Spotrac.com
Tampa Bay has taken the Moneyball concept and perfected it in such a way that can’t and won’t be duplicated in my opinion. Their organizational philosophy and coaching ways make this team what they are and they are a serious threat because of it. Kevin Cash should be unanimously considered the best manager in the league today for what he has that team accomplishing.
Bullpens are the most important part of your team in the postseason and the Rays have one if the best in baseball. Tampa’s bullpen ERA is the 3rd best in baseball only behind San Francisco and Los Angeles Dodgers. That is with the closer Nick Anderson being out all but 3 games and trading what many believed to be their second-best reliever, Diego Castillo at the trade deadline. Kevin Cash consistently pushes the correct button and the appropriate times to always give his team the best chance to win.
While the bullpen is their strength they have a sneaky offense. This offense wasn’t the best at the beginning of the season well good thing it’s not how you start but how you finish. Since July 1st, so pretty decent sample size, they have the most runs scored in baseball with the 3rd best WAR as a team on offense. Leading the charge is 2b, Brandon Lowe who had a breakout season last year and has picked it up offensively since July.
They have also gotten some really good production from rookie sensation Wander Franco. The consensus best prospect in Baseball was called up in June and has been as good as advertised and is someone they will be able to build around for the foreseeable future.
Tampa is a legitimate contender this year and they have proved last season was no fluke with their biggest advantage is them experiencing it last season. If this was Tampa Bay’s first taste at the playoffs in a while then the expectations should be tamed but with their experience of last season and Kevin Cash going through the growing pains of in-game decisions in the playoff and World Series, they will be a force to be reckoned with this postseason.
Who do you have as legitimate contenders for the AL? Do you agree that the Rays are legitimate contenders? Let us know!