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The Rays are not a sleeper team, they’re just good

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The Rays are not a sleeper team for woke baseball fans

Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Two months of baseball are now behind us, and the Tampa Bay Rays sit at 29-27, two games above .500 and with only one less win than the division leading Yankees (who have played six fewer games on the year).

This small market team is keeping up with the Joneses, so naturally people are starting to notice:

I can filter leaderboards too, though, and the quality of the Tampa Bay Rays shows in more than May longballs.

After two months, the Rays have the best offense in the American League, by wins above replacement...

AL Batting

Team PA HR BB% K% ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Team PA HR BB% K% ISO AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ WAR
Rays 2194 83 9.90% 26.30% 0.19 0.25 0.329 0.435 0.328 108 11
Astros 2082 82 8.50% 18.00% 0.19 0.28 0.345 0.466 0.347 121 10.6
Yankees 1978 76 10.00% 22.60% 0.18 0.27 0.345 0.448 0.342 115 10
Twins 1909 57 10.70% 21.70% 0.16 0.25 0.334 0.415 0.325 102 8.6
Red Sox 1998 48 9.50% 17.60% 0.14 0.27 0.344 0.413 0.328 100 7.9
Leaderboard through May 2017 Fangraphs

As well as the third best rotation...

AL Starting Pitching

Team W L IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 LOB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR
Team W L IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 LOB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR
Red Sox 21 18 308 9.85 2.40 1.31 72.1% 4.21 3.64 3.63 6.1
Yankees 22 15 289.1 8.87 2.68 1.40 72.9% 4.23 4.09 3.71 4.4
Rays 18 14 320.1 8.12 3.12 1.18 75.4% 3.71 4.07 4.09 4.2
Indians 21 21 296.2 9.77 2.85 1.49 70.6% 4.79 4.04 3.52 4.2
Astros 25 10 311.2 9.04 2.86 1.36 80.0% 3.52 4.08 3.41 4.1
Leaderboard through May 2017 Fangraphs

... where the Rays edge the Indians rotation in runs allowed.

Tampa Bay’s only struggle throughout the 2017 season has been the bullpen, which lost all four set up men at the start of the season. Chase Whitley, Jumbo Diaz and Danny Farquhar filled in admirably, but the Rays had serious struggles on the road in April without Brad Boxberger, Tommy Hunter, Xavier Cedeno or Shawn Tolleson.

As the bullpen comes back together, with various prospects grow into newfound bullpen roles (Ryne Stanek, Chih-Wei Hu, Jose Alvarado), and as the team’s well assembled prospect depth fills in for injuries elsewhere (Tim Beckham, Jose De Leon, Daniel Robertson), this Rays team could find itself in contention throughout the season.

This might be the first time this decade that the Rays have looked like their vintage selves from the 2008-2010 run of success. The Rays have not seen the playoffs since squeaking in during the 2011 and 2013 seasons, and perhaps they’ll have to do the same when fending off the Red Sox and Yankees, but this year has some magic to it.

Let’s hope it doesn’t run out.