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The 2022 Tampa Bay Rays Are Deceptively Good at Baseball

Rays
(AP Photo / Chris O’Meara)

The 2022 Tampa Bay Rays Are Deceptively Good at Baseball

Everyone counts them out, year after year it always feels the same. The Tampa Bay Rays seem to have devil magic — the ability to put together a team of misfit players that gives the team the connotation of the sum being more significant than the total of its parts.

The team doesn’t have a superstar. There are really good ballplayers on the team but no Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, or Aaron Judge. As I said, the Rays are deceptively good. Not many have heard of their third baseman Yandy Diaz, but he is arguably their best offensive performer.

In 2022, Diaz is rocking a beautiful slash line of .288/.396/.421. His on-base percentage ranks him third in the American League. He also boasts an astounding 142 OPS+ which leads the team. People are familiar with outfielder Randy Arozarena. He is batting .267 with a team-leading 18 home runs.

Perhaps the most impactful cog in the lineup is utility man Harold Ramirez. Believe it or not, he is batting .328 in 311 at-bats. His OPS+ sits at 137.

This is even after Tampa Bay lost outfielder Austin Meadows to the Tigers, who has hit over 30 homers and was an All-Star. It’s as if the front office had a crystal ball. Meadows is having perhaps his worst professional season marred by injury and mental health struggles.

Much of the Rays’ success has also been without talented shortstop Wander Franco, who signed a massive 11-year, $182 million contract with the organization in November of 2021. In 58 games, he’s slashing .260/.308/.395 with five home runs.

Tampa Bay does hold high regard in terms of pitching. They’re second in the American League in ERA as a team. Their ace, Shane McClanahan is 11-5 with a 2.20 ERA and a 0.862 WHIP. He received some national recognition, starting the All-star Game for the AL.

Their bullpen is absolutely epic. Jason Adam leads the charge with his 1.30 ERA in 55.1 innings. He backs up his success with an unbelievable 0.651 WHIP and 2.64 FIP. Others in the Rays mix include Matt Wisler, Brooks Raley, and Colin Poche.

With all these components put together, the Rays hold a slot in the Wild Card race with a 74-57 record. That puts them second in the AL East, only four games back of the Yankees. With a month left, they could definitely catch New York.

I know it’s a tired fact, but Tampa Bay’s payroll sits around $80 million. That’s actually a team record. Compare that to the Yankees whose payroll is around $250 million.

The Rays are poised for a deep playoff run once again, and I could see them even returning to the World Series. I believe they are in a better position than anyone else within the division. They’re kinda quirky too. They play in a dump and don’t have any household names. I love that.

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