To say the Rays' offense is unusual would be a gross understatement. Ripley's Believe It or Not has a wing in their next museum reserved for them once the season ends. Somehow, the Rays have managed to be amongst the league leaders in runs scored while residing near the bottom of the league in batting average. They're the near inverse of the Royals (2nd in AVG, 22st in RS). A majority of the Rays' runs are predicated on the fact that they lead baseball in walks. Are the Rays walking at a rate that other low average teams are unable to sustain?
Lets take a look.
The Rays' current team average is .251. I'm going to look back over the past five years at teams with similar averages and compare their OBP and runs per game.These slash lines will be in the order of AVG/OBP/Runs Per Game
Blue Jays: .251/.314/4.75
More after the jump...
(For the hell of it)Rays: .260/.340/4.78
Devil Rays: .255/.314/4.25
As you can see, the Rays are averaging more runs a game than any team listed while having the best OBP relative to their average. No team over that span has walked so well andhit so poorly. In fact, when you dig a little deeper you find something extremely interesting. Currently the Rays are averaging 5.04 runs a game while batting .251. Since 1920 only one team has averaged more than five runs a game while hitting .251 or less: The 1991 Detroit Tigers*.
That Tiger team is pretty interesting. Mickey "Froot Loops" Tettleton lead the team in walks with 101. Cecil Fielder clubbed 44 home runs. Yet the always underrated Lou Whitaker lead the team in OPS at .881. Among the regulars, they had four players with an OPS+ of 120 or more and four with 96 or less. Their highest batting average was Tony Phillips at .284. Rob Deer hit 25 home runs...with a .179 batting average in 448 AB, so that willcertainly help bring things down. As interesting as that feat is the team went only 84-78 that season. The Rays are going to surpass that. And they're going to do it with one of the strangest offensive seasons in recent memory.
*Thanks to Steve Sommer for researching that for me.