It’s an off day in Rays Land, so let’s take some time to assess just how fun this roster is right now. A few clarifiers up top. This is not a list of the best players on the Rays right now.
This list strictly applies to fun.
Good players are generally more fun to watch, but it’s not a perfect correlation. Personality counts for some, but it is generally how much fun it is to watch them on the field of play. This is strictly subjective. Please feel free to disagree - strongly.
On to the rankings.
Let’s get these out of the way.
25) Blake Snell
24) Trevor Plouffe
23) Shane Peterson
22) Peter Bourjos
21) Taylor Featherston
Let’s get these out of the way. With nothing against any of these players, Through a mix of poor play and nondescript moments, there’s nothing that stands out about any of these Rays players’ contributions to the 2017 season thus far.
20) Alex Colome
Colome has given up eight runs in his past four outings and has seen his ERA just about double over the past few weeks.
Given that nearly all of those runs have come in extreme high-leverage situations means he’s probably pretty lucky to not be lower in these rankings right now. The fact that he was an All-Star last year and was looking even better for large portions of 2017 is his only saving grace.
He should be back to the Colome we know and love sooner than later but right now he’s not that fun to watch.
19) Jumbo Diaz
Diaz is arguably the shakiest reliever among the group that hasn’t been cut or sent down as of late, but he’s still just so lovable. Who doesn’t love a 6’ 4” 315 lb. relief pitcher?! (Answer: people who notice his 5.20 ERA.)
18) Alex Cobb
17) Jake Odorizzi
We’re lumping these two together, as they have both been a slight tick below what Rays fans would have hoped for in 2017, and they are both potentially pitching in their last season with the club. Odorizzi gets the slight nod because he has been the more consistent of the two, and he’s striking out at least a few batters every game.
16) Adam Kolarek
Kolarek is riding the New Guy Bump to a decent ranking here. This number could change a lot (for better or worse) once he gets more than two and a third innings in a Rays uniform.
15) Chase Whitley
14) Tommy Hunter
The two most reliable arms in the Rays bullpen these days, I still trust Hunter way more than Whitley, but the on-field results have been quite similar. It’s fun to see them because the leverage is high.
13) Jesus Sucre
You know that thing that Austin Rivers, Grayson Allen, and really any Duke basketball player has where you want to punch them in the face? Some call it punchable face syndrome. Sucre has the exact opposite. If it is possible, he has hugable face syndrome. I know that isn’t a thing, but I almost want to invent it just for Sucre. I mean, come on:
12) Erasmo Ramirez
Ramirez may well be my favorite Ray, and it’s fitting that he is probably underrated in these rankings. (And yes, I am aware that I am the sole creator of these rankings, making that previous statement rather ridiculous.) Erasmo just kind of slips under the radar sometimes because of his do-anything role with the club. Give the world more Erasmo, Cash.
11) Evan Longoria
He’s Evan Longoria.
10) Logan Morrison
9) Tim Beckham
Two of the Rays breakout stars of 2017, these two have been absolutely smashing the ball this season, sporting the two best hard hit ball rates of any Rays regulars in 2017 (and both ranking among the top 15 in all of baseball this season). Morrison has stirred the pot with some controversial comments in the past, but he has kept his head down this season. Beckham, nine years removed from being the first overall pick, is also drawing praise for putting all the pieces together this season and finally showing what he is capable of. These are two great stories for Tampa Bay.
8) Wilson Ramos
7) Adeiny Hechavarria
6) Brad Boxberger
The Three Saviors. All three of these guys made their 2017 Rays debuts within the past two weeks, and they have all been thoroughly impressive. Ramos has a pair of homers in his last two starts, and his ceiling as a hitting catcher is through the roof. Hech is hitting a cool .421 in his first 21 plate appearances with the club, but even once he inevitably cools off, he’ll be able to wow fans with plays like this. Boxberger gets the top spot of this trio because his return could be the most meaningful. Even though we all know every MLB bullpen is bound to have its bumps and bruises along the way, the Rays bullpen has undoubtedly been rough of late, which makes Boxberger’s debut (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K) all the more exciting. If he can be even close to his 2014 self, the Rays would be ecstatic. Heck, they’d take his 2015/2016 self.
5) Steven Souza Jr.
Souza started off the season with a new-and-improved low strikeout rate, and while he has regressed a bit on that front, he’s walking enough to counteract those Ks, and the rest of his game has been elite. He’s hitting for power, stealing a few bases here and there, and playing the field like a champ. Plus he does stuff like this and this to truly endear him forever to Rays fans.
The two best position players on the Rays right now are ranked here (above and below), but in my humble opinion, these two have been incredible in 2017, Dickerson edges Souza in fun.
4) Corey Dickerson
As for Dickerson, he’s already locked in the All-Star vote as the AL DH, and he deserved it immensely. He’s hitting everything in sight, literally, and by fWAR he has been the eighth-best player in the American League this season, despite the inherent punishment that comes in fWAR for being a designated hitter. By offensive contributions, only Aaron Judge, Mike Trout (lol), and Jose Altuve have been better. It’s easy to be fun when you’re tearing the cover off the ball and repping the Rays at the Midsummer Classic.
3) Mallex Smith
Smith was actually the point of origin for this story, as he was so fun a few weeks ago when I thought of this article idea that he was seemingly a lock for the number one spot. He has slowed down a bit in the past week or so, but his “fun ceiling” is still as high as anyone on the Rays. He has the young age (newly-turned 24), fun game (nine steals in 30 games), and lovable nature (taking notes in his journal in the dugout) to combine for one of the most fun players in all of baseball, not just in Tampa Bay.
2) Chris Archer
The present and the future. Archer has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season (yes, even though he has a 3.92 ERA, apparently too high to earn an All-Star nod in the Player’s Vote), and even when he is struggling, his vocal, pacing, cursing, roaming, emotional displays on the mound are among the most entertaining in all of baseball. Add in the sixth-best strikeout rate in baseball this season, and you have one of the most fun pitchers in baseball.
1) Jacob Faria
Faria hasn’t reached that level just yet, but he gets the advantage at the number one spot thanks to that magical word: potential. Faria has been incredible in his five MLB starts so far, with all five being quality starts, and his ERA currently sitting at 2.23. For the more analytical of fans, his 2.83 FIP gets their juices flowing even more, and his 35:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a 23-year-old is the stuff that gets fanbases wayyyyy too excited. The shine may come off at some point, but for now Faria - and his ducky - reign supreme.