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The Rays And Run Support

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As I write this the Rays are losing 4-3 to the Tigers, and any hope the Rays had of making the post season seem to be slipping farther and farther away.  Despite the fact that the Rays seasons looks like it will not end in another World Series run, the team can still make some history.

What kind of history you ask?  Well, it's rare.  But not rare in the good sense.

As it stands right now the Rays sport the most supported and least supported starters in the American League in terms of runs scored per 9 innings(RS/9).  The most supported starter being Jeff Niemann at 6.96 RS/9 and the least being Matt Garza with a 3.73, though James Shields is not far behind with his 3.76.

Garza is the 6th least supported starter in all of baseball with Shields being the 7th.  The two trail only Barry Zito, Aarong Harang, Kenshin Kawakami, Kevin Corriea, and Doug Davis.  It's not surprising to see those names topping the list, seeing as how they play for some of the worst offensive teams in the game.  Garza and Shields, however, happen to play for a team that has scored the 5th most runs in baseball.

I wondered how many teams, if any, have ended a season with the most and least supported starter on their roster.  Since I'm too lazy to actually look the data up myself, I enlisted the help of Jesse Spector (@jessespector on Twitter)  from the New York Daily News.  Mr. Spector found that the last team to pull it off was the 2002 Colorado Rockies with Dennis Stark receiving the most and Shawn Chacon receiving the least.  However, Spector could not find an AL team since 1980 that has done it.  If the season ended right now, the Rays would pull off the rare feat.  Edwin Jackson and his 3.81 RS/9 has a chance to usurp Garza/Shields' place upon the least support mountain top, but Jeff Niemann's lead as the most supported AL starter seems safe with second place Joe Saunders trailing by more than half a run. 

It would be extremely hard, and also impressive, to make the playoffs while housing the two least supported starters in your respective league.  If the Rays are going to get into October those numbers probably can't remain.   But If this team doesn't have another playoff run in them, I hope they can grab a little slice of history somewhere else.