The Big Picture: Some Off-Day Perspective

So this is what an off-day feels like? Wow, it's been a bit.

Anyway, now is as good a time as any to hit pause and take stock in the Rays' season to date. With the daily nature of baseball, it's easy to get caught up in day-to-day swings of emotion and to lose sight of the bigger picture. Personally (and I'm guessing a speak for most Rays' fans here) I've been all over the place with the Rays recently. A week and a half ago, I was on top of the world with nary a care; then Boston swept the Rays and they split a series against the White Sox, bringing out excessive negativity and more than a bit of concern from me; and now the Rays took two of three from the Blue Jays, winning the last two in dramatic fashion and throwing my emotions into complete turmoil. Should I be concerned about the Rays? Happy? Confusing, mixing emotions...gah!

Standings from mlb.com

Phew...okay, that helps.

So even with the Rays' recent offensive slump, they're still in first place by 2.5 games. Heck, they still have the best record in baseball by the same margin. They have a nice cushion for the Wild Card still - the Rays are still five games up over Boston - and it looks like there won't be much competition for the Wild Card outside of the AL East. As bad as things have seemed these past couple weeks, the sky has yet to fall.

Time for some quick napkin math. For now, let's assume that the Rays are a true-talent 90-win team, the Red Sox are a 95-win team, and the Yankees a 100-win team.* You can make arguments that some of these numbers are too low or high, but we're just doing this quick and dirty. Assuming these teams play to their ability levels the rest of the season, here's what we have:

W

L

GB

New York

100

62

-

Tampa Bay

96

66

4

Boston

94

68

6

It's going to be a damn close race and our margin has definitely shrunk, but things are still okay. The Rays will be getting Kelly Shoppach and Matt Joyce back soon, both of which should help the club offensively. We knew that the Rays were playing over their heads, but they're still a talented team, they have a bit of a cushion, and the front-office is shrewd enough that acquiring a player like Luke Scott is not out of the question. Life is still good.

*I'm discounting the Blue Jays because despite their strong start, they still can't be expected to be more than a true-talent 81-win team. I mean, they were projected to win around 70 games at the beginning of the year. This is crazy. 

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