In a small sample size with the naked eye, it appears teams are sitting on Tampa Bay pitchers "get me over and ahead" first pitch fastballs. I decided to take a look at where the Rays pitching stands on hitters putting the first pitch in play.
Below is the percentage of Plate Appearances ending on the first pitch less sacrifices of total plate appearances less sacrifices. I also compare each American League team's BA, SLG, ISO, and BABIP on the first pitch. This should help determine whether the Rays or more predictable than most teams.
Data below the jump:
And if you prefer to look at the cleaner rank of each team, with a 1 being the worst rank i.e. highest BAA:
The Rays are nowhere near the top of % of first pitches put into play. They seem to suffer from bad BABIP luck. You would expect BABIP to be higher than the team average given that first pitch is a hitter's count, but their relative standing to remain the same. I was surprised to see the Rays lead the league in First Pitch BABIP against, while they are in the middle of the pack overall at .301. This bad BABIP luck explains the high batting average. The good news is teams are not relatively killing the ball off first pitch Rays pitching versus other teams. The Ray's are 6th worst in Slugging Against, but probably of greater importance 10th worst in ISO (excludes singles). The team that seems to be the most predictable is Toronto, which leads the league in highest percentages of first pitches in play, highest batting average, highest slugging, and the 2nd highest ISO. It seems the scouting report is out on Toronto. This conversation should be an issue on the Jays board, rather than on the Rays. It's just been one of those months.