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Tampa Bay Rays news and links: Why did the Rays stop winning?

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It’s actually pretty hard to say.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We fan-shotted this yesterday, but it’s worth top billing in the Tank as well. Jeff Sullivan devoted an article to the Rays of the past five years. On the one hand, it looks like the Rays—once contenders in the stacked AL East—have simply been unable to keep pace as the rest of the league got wise to their organizational smarts; the window of opportunity that opened in 2008 and stretched through 2012 seems to have closed.

But if you look at it through the lens of base runs, it’s not clear that the Rays were no longer competitive. They scored plenty of runs and prevented plenty of runs—they just were best at the moments that mattered least and worst at the moments that mattered most.

What’s up with that? Everybody has their theories, which is fine. Just be aware that those theories are guesses, generally not backed up upon a close examination of the data (heavy reliance on three true outcomes is not enough of an answer—that creates high variance, with little evidence to suggest it pushes hard in one direction or the other). I’m certainly not saying that the Rays haven’t done something wrong, but it’s tough to say what.

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