|Anything Goes: What Are The Rays Doing?|
Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on June 20, 2009
But I donâ€™t love this rotation.Â Shields and Garza are both good innings munchers, but does anyone want Shields and Garza when the Red Sox have Lester and Beckett (or Smoltz, or Penny, or Buchholz...yeesh) or when the Yankees have Sabathia or, well, I was hoping someone, but there isnâ€™t anyone.
But this column isnâ€™t about the Yankees, itâ€™s about the Rays.
Who are currently sporting a thoroughly nifty Pythagorean record of 40-28, which would put them in...second place.Â The Rays have the best run differential in the AL East and the second best in all of baseball, which frightens me.Â That sort of thing often screams of an upcoming hot streak, but can the Rays do it?
The 2008 Rays were an unusually healthy team.Â Sure, Carl Crawford missed time.Â Yep, Evan Longoria missed time.Â Shocking!Â Scott Kazmir was hurt.
But they got consistent production all year long from their position players.
When does that happen?
The defining reason behind the Rays revival (itâ€™s not a revival, wasnâ€™t it more like a birth?) was the defense. Or was it?Â How about the fact that they added a wonderful third baseman and found a position for the uber-talented BJ Upton?
It wasnâ€™t all the defense, although no one can deny that they went from â€˜holy crap thatâ€™s awfulâ€™ on defense to â€˜pretty slick!,â€™ which is a big leap, in case you donâ€™t believe me.Â That sort of thing makes up for a lot of bad pitching or days when the bats donâ€™t arrive on time.
But for 31 wins?
I donâ€™t believe it.
The 2008 Rays were fluky.Â Thatâ€™s common in all teams that go on Championship runs; look at the Phillies. Iâ€™ll bet you that we just saw Cole Hamelsâ€™ best year.Â Those career years happen. When they happen together, you might find yourself in October.
So how do we explain the run differential?
Be honest, I donâ€™t know what to say.Â And in that situation, check the sked.Â
Oh, here we go.Â Even though theyâ€™ve played 18 games against Boston and New York, well, thatâ€™s only 18 games, and theyâ€™ve played 68 total.
They played a whopping 43 games against the Orioles, White Sox, Indians, Rockies, Marlins, Royals, Twins, Aâ€™s, Mariners, Nationals.
I think we may have found it!Â Then again, good teams do have to beat the bad teams, but itâ€™ll be interesting to see how the Rays react when they play good teams.
But, wait.Â The AL isnâ€™t great, there are only three really good teams, and the Rays are one of them.
The other two?Â Boston and New York.
Good luck ranking them.
Gonna be a great pennant race!
Adam also writes at his blog.