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The Rays’ All-Time Offensive Leaderboard: The Sabremetric Edition

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While writing my piece for last weekend, I spent a lot of time looking at the Fangraph win values of historical players on the Rays.  I'm a huge fan of baseball history and lore, and looking at those old totals sparked an interesting question in my mind: I wonder who's had the worst offensive year ever while on the Rays.  For being one of the two youngest teams in baseball, our franchise already has a long history of suckitude - to be precise, 10 years with a record of 645-972 (.399 Win%).  I don't know where that ranks in terms of all-time worst stretches, but it's got to be up there.  Anyway, since our franchise had been so bad until recently, I figured we must have a good amount of sucking in our history.  The trick is, how best to quantify it?

To answer this question, I decided to rank all the players that have played with the Rays by their Fangraphs Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA).  For those unfamiliar with wRAA, this statistic measures how many offensive runs a player contributed to their team when compared to the league average for that year.  It's a counting stat, like RBIs and HRs, meaning that in order to accumulate a really low wRAA, a player not only has to be bad, but they also have to be given playing time.  That said, here's your list of the lowest of the low, the ten worst offensive seasons in the Rays' history:

Player

Year

wRAA

1

Vinny Castilla

2000

-30.3

2

John Flaherty

1998

-26.8

3

Dioner Navarro

2009

-24.0

4

Tomas Perez

2006

-23.8

5

Brent Abernathy

2002

-23.3

6

Bobby Smith

1999

-21.9

7

Geoff Blum

2004

-20.6

8

Kevin Stocker

1998

-20.2

9

Dioner Navarro

2007

-18.6

10

Felix Martinez

2000

-18.4

I figured that Navarro's 2009 season would rank towards the top of the bottom, but I didn't know that he'd own the dubious honor of being the only player with two seasons in the bottom ten.  It helps that he catches - the bar is set so low, managers can justify playing poor hitting catchers for longer than they would be able to otherwise.  Castilla's 2000 season truly was one for the record books, though.  If you thought Navarro was painful to watch this year, imagine this: Castilla ranked up his -30.3 wRAA in only 354 plate appearances (compared to Navarro's 410).  And he was a third baseman!  Look at this line: .221/.254/.308.  That's just...wow.

Now that we've taken some time to marvel at the lows of our organization, what about the high points?  What have the ten best offensive seasons been?  And along those lines, who is the Rays' all-time offensive leader in wRAA? The answers are after the jump, but first, take the time to answer the poll in the post down below if you haven't already.

Let's start with the ten best offensive seasons, as measured by wRAA:

Player

Year

wRAA

1

Carlos Pena

2007

51.0

2

Ben Zobrist

2009

39.3

3

Fred McGriff

1999

35.7

4

Aubrey Huff

2003

32.0

5

Evan Longoria

2009

28.3

6

Jason Bartlett

2009

28.1

7

B.J. Upton

2007

25.8

8

Jose Canseco

1999

23.3

9

Carlos Pena

2008

23.1

10

Carlos Pena

2009

21.6

Four, count ‘em, four players from the 2009 Rays made the top ten; that speaks wonders about the strength and depth of our current offense.  Also, holy cow, I had forgotten just how amazing Pena was in 2007.  For an equivalent, Joe Mauer created 54.9 wRAA this past season; Pena created 51.0 wRAA in 2007.  The second best season in Rays' history, Zobrist's 2009 season, falls 11.7 wRAA behind Pena's 2007 season, a difference equivalent to the entire offensive value of Magglio Ordonez this past year (which wasn't shabby at a .356 wOBA).  Pena was a force of nature that year, and his .345 ISO from that season is far and away the highest in franchise history (second place: Pena, 2008, .310 ISO).

And now, the list you've all been waiting for: the all-time Rays' offensive leaderboard.  I always find it fun to see which players lead franchises in counting stats like homeruns, RBIs, and hits, but those lists don't actually tell us how much value each player contributed to the team.  With that in mind, this list can serve as our sabremetric response, as we answer the question: which player has contributed the most runs to the Rays over the course of their tenure?

Names

wRAA

1

Carlos Pena

95.7

2

Fred McGriff

74.2

3

Carl Crawford

57.4

4

Aubrey Huff

52.2

5

Evan Longoria

47.0

6

Jose Canseco

30.1

7

Julio Lugo

24.9

8

Bubba Trammell

24.4

9

Jason Bartlett

21.0

10

BJ Upton

19.5

11

Ben Zobrist

17.6

12

Ben Grieve

17.2

Going into this exercise, I knew that Pena had created a lot of offensive value for the Rays over the course of the past three seasons, but I don't think I appreciated exactly how much.  He's been incredible and while we don't have the most illustrious franchise history (it's telling that Bubba Trammell sits in 8th place), he deserves his place at the top of the list.  Also, how many people would have said Fred McGriff was the second most valuable offensive player in Rays' history?  Maybe I jumped on the Rays' bandwagon too late and missed being able to appreciate McGriff, but I though Crawford would be ahead of him by now.  And wait...Jose Canseco was actually good?  Somehow I missed this, but at least one part of the "Hit Show" was a success for a season or two.

Looking at next year, if Crawford is with the Rays for the whole time and Longoria produces like he has the past few years, we could see Crawford move into the #2 spot and Longoria ending up close to McGriff.  Upton, Bartlett, and Zobrist all figure to move up spots as well, thankfully moving names like Bubba Trammell and Julio Lugo back down towards the bottom.  Pena stands to increase his lead, and although Longoria appears poised to pass him eventually, he'll have his work cut out for him.

So congratulations to Carlos Pena, the Rays' all-time leader in wRAA.  This list may not get the most mainstream attention, but considering how sabremetrically-slanted our front office is, it holds more importance than the title of all-time leader in RBIs, for sure.