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Rays Build-a-Lineup, Part I: Historical Lineups

Going through baseball withdrawal? Build the greatest Rays squad ever (under a certain price, of course)

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Under the new Blog Bylaws of 2019:

Your website should be considered defunct if you do not allow for one article that allows readers to mess around with arbitrary salaries to build fun lineup based on their franchise’s history


John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton [sic], and the rest of the Blog Boys

Well, I guess we’d better follow suit.

If you don’t know the deal on these articles, basically every site sets it up differently, but the underlying premise is pretty much the same: Build a roster of players from your team’s history with some sort of catch. Here’s Down Goes Brown writing one for the NHL where you want to find hidden gems in team history who only played there briefly. Others set arbitrary tiers with players in each tier costing a certain amount, so that you can’t just scoop up all the greats.

We’re going to do a couple iterations over the offseason, but here’s how we’ll set up the first of these: the Rays historical salary draft game.

Career Rays Draft

The first option for this salary draft game is to draft Rays based on their entire career with Tampa Bay. Throughout this exercise, we’ll be using rWAR as the price for players (useful list here), so we’ll set $100 as the total budget for a starting lineup of position players (catcher through right field, plus a DH) and $50 as a budget for a pitching staff (four starters and three relievers).

With three big Rays names for the career Rays draft, there are plenty of different routes to go. Do you spend almost half your hitter budget on the Face of the Franchise? Do you buy Zorilla and KK instead? Here’s what I landed on:

My Team

Catcher — Travis d’Arnuad ($1.4): This may be a touch of confirmation bias, but given how pathetic the position has been throughout franchise history, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say “Little D” had the most moments for any Rays catcher, even though he was with the team less than a full season. Plus, he’s cheap, so it saves some budget for elsewhere.

First Base — Fred McGriff ($9.0): My first choice here was future Hall of Fame broadcaster, Carlos Pena, but he ended up sending me a bit over budget, so I’ll ahve to settle for the Crime Dog, a very worthy backup plan.

Second Base — Daniel Robertson ($3.3):

Third Base — Evan Longoria ($49.8): I’d be shocked if, even though he’s half the budget, he doesn’t show up on 80 percent of everyone’s Career Rays Rosters.

Shortstop — Willy Adames ($6.2): This is like getting Apple stock in 1994.

Left Field — Tommy Pham ($6.3): Nothing but respect for my president.

Center Field — Rocco Baldelli ($9.6): Next to Longoria (and maybe Walkoff Willy), I’d guess Rocco is among the highest rostered Rays in this exercise.

Right Field — Mallex Smith (5.1)/DH Ji-Man Choi (3.0): I’m lumping these two together because as a relatively new Rays convert, these two have been easily my two favorite players that I’ve actually gotten to follow up close and personal. Great bargain deals for me, I’m excited to see who y’all have as your own personal bargain deals.

Cleveland Indians v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images

Total hitting cost: $93.7

And now for the pitching staff:

Ace — David Price ($21.3): The best pitcher in franchise history, and he costs less, proportionately, than getting Longoria to man third base.

Number two — Chris Archer ($12.6): Honestly, I wanted Scott Kazmir here, but he sent me over budget. Maybe I can trade Archer for a bunch of good History Build-a-Lineup prospects in Pittsburgh?!

Number three — Charlie Morton ($5.1): *whispers* He’ll actually be my number one when it matters most.

Oakland Athletics Tampa Bay Rays Workout Photo by Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Number four — Tyler Glasnow ($3.2): Like getting Starbucks stock in 1997. (What an original joke!)

Closer — Colin Poche ($0.1): Poche Posse strikes again. Don’t @ me, bro.

Set-up man — J.P. Howell ($3.8): Howell’s [sic] Moving Castle.

Specialist — Jose Alvarado ($1.6): Yes, I did just make my specialist a lefty in a bullpen that has two other lefties behind a rotation that has southpaws at the number one and two spots. No, I do not care.

Total pitching cost: $47.7

* * *

So that’s my squad. Who do you have in yours? Make as many iterations as you can in the comments below! And suggest any future tweaks to the rules/possible future Build-a-Lineup styles.