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Return of the Tampa Bay Rays Hit Show

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People credit a lot of the 2008 Rays success to playing "small ball." Good defense, good base running and "clutch" hitting. The team only had one 30 home run hitter and nobody really considered the Rays a power hitting team. This is another misconception about the team.*Guide Teaser* R.J. will break down some of the others in the DRB Season Guide. It's true, the defense carried the team, but the Rays were actually one of the better power teams in the home run happy American League. They ranked 4th in team home runs which was ahead of both the Yankees and Red Sox. Their team ISO, which Baseball Prospectus defines as a measure of a hitter's raw power, in terms of extra bases per AB, was 5th best in the AL.  As you can see, they also boast two of the best power hitters in the American League.

Name

Team

ISO 

Carlos Quentin

Chi. Sox

0.283

Alex Rodriguez

Yankees

0.271

Evan Longoria

Rays

0.259

Jim Thome

Chi.Sox

0.258

Kevin Youkilis

Red Sox

0.257

Jason Giambi

Yankees

0.255

Jermaine Dye

Chi. Sox

0.249

Aubrey Huff

Orioles

0.247

Carlos Pena

Rays

0.247

Jack Cust

Athletics

0.245

Evan Longoria's raw power is down right scary. He is by far the youngest member on this list and should increase his ISO with better plate discipline. He also played part of the season with a crack in his arm and showed no signs of a power loss after coming off of the DL. Carlos Pena was/is still one of the best power hitters despite his numbers being down across the board and numerous injuries. He led the league in ISO in 2007 with a whopping .345, so he could be lurking around the .280 -.300 level in 2009. The Rays will add another top ISO hitter in Pat Burrell, who finished 2008 with an ISO of .257. That was good for 7th best in the NL and would've tied Kevin Youkilis for 5th best in the AL. If a healthy B.J. Upton returns to 2007 form, the Rays could have four hitters in the middle of their order with .200+ ISO. That would be something no American League team, not even the major leading home run hitting White Sox, accomplished in 2008.

It's almost like the hit show without the chessy jingle, but with actual success and, well, hitting.