The Major League Baseball season has hit it’s half-way point. Here’s a quick look at how the Tampa Bay Rays have performed so far this season.
The Tampa Bay Rays were one of the surprise teams of the 2018 MLB season. After another stretch of mediocrity, the Rays returned to prominence within a stacked AL East. Although they didn’t make the playoffs, the Rays put together a 90 win season and hoped to improve on that this year.
The Rays started hot and relatively injury free, leading the AL East for a large portion of the first half. Injuries and bullpen struggles struck the Rays, as they now trail the unflappable Yankees by six and a half games. However, the Florida ball club was able to snag two out of four from the Bronx Bombers in their series prior to the All Star break.
The Rays continue to have a very middling offense. All of the team’s major statistics rank in the middle of the pack. While there have been standout performers, the squad as a whole is fairly mediocre. Followers should expect an uptick in offensive production following the return of Brandon Lowe, Daniel Robertson, Ji Man-Choi, and Christian Arroyo.
As per usual, the Rays boast a top-notch pitching staff. However, there have been some red marks on this year’s crew. For one, Blake Snell has regressed massively from his Cy Young winning 2018 season. The Rays were not expecting him to post a 1.89 ERA like last season, but they were expecting better than 4.70. Secondly, Tyler Glasnow was incredibly impressive until he got injured and landed on the 60-Day IL. Finally, the late-game bullpen, typically a strength of the Rays, cooled tremendously heading into the All-Star break. Overall, the Rays still rank near the top of the league in every major pitching statistic.
Again, it seems almost constant that the Rays have one of the best defensive teams in the league. They rank near the top in every major defensive stat, and continue to improve. The Rays defense is led by a group of young players in Austin Meadows, Brandon Lowe, and Joey Wendle. A major improvement compared to last season has been the catching situation. All of the large field of Rays catchers this season are better defensively than the last season’s de facto leader, which was Wilson Ramos.
Overall Grade: B
The Rays had a strong first half of the season and are on pace to continue their success from last year. The team could improve however. The offense needs to pick up some slack left by the pitching staff; Blake Snell needs to throw better; and, Tyler Glasnow needs to perform when he returns from injury.
Three Stars of the First Half
3rd Star: Brandon Lowe, 2B
The Rays had three All Star players, so I may as well go with those three. In his first full season with the Rays, Brandon Lowe has put together an impressive resume. He has performed both at the plate and in the field, solidifying the Rays’ second base position. Disappointingly, he landed himself on the 10-Day IL just prior to the break and was unable to play in the All Star game. On the season, Lowe has 16 HR’s, a .276 batting average, and an OPS of .862.
2nd Star: Austin Meadows, OF
The young outfielder joined the Rays last season as a major piece of the Chris Archer trade and has had an immediate impact. Meadows started the season red hot, but cooled down significantly following a stop on the IL with a sprained thumb. That being said, he remains one of the Rays’ top performers. On the season, he has 12 HR’s, a .289 batting average, and an OPS of .866.
1st Star: Charlie Morton
The Rays big free agent acquisition from last winter has been outstanding this season. Morton has picked up the slack in the starting rotation left by a regressed Blake Snell and an injured Tyler Glasnow, earning Morton a spot on the AL All Star team. The 35 year-old has been one of the best pitchers in the AL this season and deserves to be in the Cy Young race. On the season, Morton is 10-2, with a 2.32 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP.
The Tampa Bay Rays finished the first half of the season with a 52-39 record. Baseball fans should watch out, as the Rays are just getting started this season.
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