The Rays are the team in the MLB that no one is talking about, and they continue to surprise baseball fans everywhere.
The Rays currently have the best record in the American League with a record of 32-20 and have a one-game lead on Boston in the AL East. They have won 12 out of their last 13 and show no signs of slowing down with the series against the Phillies coming up this weekend.
So how have the Rays been so successful?
Great offensive production and outstanding pitching have been the catalysts for the Rays’ success. The offense and the pitching have worked together to propel the Rays to the best record in the American League. The Rays have raised their team batting average to .231 and averaged eight runs per game before the series with the Kansas City Royals. The Rays have a 3.46 ERA, and their pitching is third in the league behind the Yankees and the White Sox. The Rays also have one of the best records against teams with winning records going 18-14.
Since his return from the DL, Ji-Man Choi has been the offensive spark plug the Rays have been missing. Choi is hitting .345 with two homers and eight runs batted in.
The Rays catching duo of Mike Zunino and Francisco Meija have combined for 14 home runs. It has been a good minute since the Rays catchers have hit that many homers in a season, let alone through 51 games.
Rookie shortstop Taylor Walls has brought energy to the lineup through his hustle, enthusiasm, and overall energy on the diamond. In his big-league debut on Saturday, Walls doubled from both sides of the plate becoming just the third player in MLB history to accomplish this feat.
Manager Kevin Cash has been excellent at the way he has handled the pitching staff. Josh Fleming, Andrew Kittredge, Ryan Thompson, Pete Fairbanks, and newly acquired JP Feyereisen have an ERA under three pitching out of the bullpen.
The average baseball fan could not name five players on the Rays roster. The Rays have the 26th largest payroll in baseball at just north of 61 million dollars. The Rays will likely never have a lot of superstars and money tied up in big-name players. In fact, Kevin Kiermaier is currently the Rays’ highest-paid player at 11.5 million.
This is the Rays way: buy low and maximize the roster with role players and guys that can play multiple positions. That is how the Rays beat Toronto, the Yankees, and the Astros on their way to the 2020 World Series.
Most baseball fans will be surprised to see the Rays back in the fall classic except for the guy sitting behind this keyboard. This team is good. The Rays are feeding off one another, playing winning baseball, and not caring who gets the credit. They are just happy to be winning.
When that attitude permeates throughout the clubhouse, it is a recipe for success, and the Rays prove that.