A decade of incredibly successful, albeit World Series-less baseball for the Tampa Bay has come to a close. The Rays made it to the postseason in four of the 10 seasons and overall had a record of 860-761 (.531 winning percentage). During their four forays into the playoffs, the Rays were eliminated in the American League Division Series all four times, but did succeed in their three Wild Card games.
With their run of success, the Rays enjoyed several immensely successful individual performances, and we’ll use those single-season totals to build a starting lineup, as well as decide the best starting pitcher and two best relief seasons from the past decade by handedness.
Catcher - Jose Molina (2012)
.223/.286/.355 * 8 HR * .284 wOBA * 81 wRC+ * 3.6 fWAR
In 2012, Jose Molina started the framing revolution in Tampa Bay. Signed the previous offseason, Molina came with more than advertised as he provided a decent offensive season for the Rays and was incredible behind the plate. His 3.6 fWAR for a catcher, is the highest for the Rays by a decent margin as Travis d’Arnaud is the next catcher on the list with his 1.8 fWAR this past season.
First Base - Logan Morrison (2017)
.246/.353/.516 * 38 HR * .363 wOBA * 131 wRC+ * 3.2 fWAR
After a barely above replacement level season in 2016 for the Rays, Tampa Bay decided to bring Morrison back for the 2017 season. Morrison rewarded the Rays by providing them with the best season of his career as he blasted 38 home runs, which is the second most in franchise history.
Second Base - Ben Zobrist (2011)
.269/.353/.469 * 20 HR * .359 wOBA * 130 wRC+ * 6.4 fWAR
Zobrist was the swiss-army knife that led the Rays through some of their winningest seasons as he did everything that was asked of him. We’re putting him at second base, because that was where he spent the majority of his time in 2011 (131 games). However, Zobrist has put up some of the Rays best seasons, all around the diamond.
Shortstop - Yunel Escobar (2013)
.256/.332/.366 * 9 HR * .311 wOBA * 98 wRC+ * 3.0 fWAR
The Rays were in desperate need of a shortstop and although Ben Zobrist had filled in excellently during the 2012 campaign, the Rays had use for Zorilla elsewhere. So, they went out and acquired Yunel Escobar from the Miami Marlins for Derek Dietrich. Escobar came over with a colorful past, but Joe Maddon and the Rays found a way to get the best of him as he provided a league average bat and exceptional defense.
Third Base - Evan Longoria (2010)
.294/.372/.507 * 22 HR * .376 wOBA * 139 wRC+ * 7.5 fWAR
Mr. Ray, Evan Longoria was exceptional and seemingly well on his way to a Hall of Fame career at the start of the decade as he could do it all for the Rays. Plenty of power to go along with superb fielding abilities, Longoria would be awarded a Gold Glove at the season’s conclusion, and also finished 6th in the American League Most Valuable Player voting.
Left Field - Carl Crawford (2010)
.306/.356/.495 * 19 HR * .369 wOBA * 134 wRC+ * 7.7 fWAR
In terms on a contract season, you can’t have a much better year than Carl Crawford had in 2010. The speedster put it altogether as he displayed impressive contact and pop to go along with his plus-plus speed (47 stolen bases & 13 triples). Following the season, Crawford was awarded a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, and then the Boston Red Sox gave him a 7-year $142M contract which worked out really well.
Center Field - Kevin Kiermaier (2015)
.263/.298/.420 * 10 HR * .309 wOBA * 97 wRC+ * 4.3 fWAR
Defense. Defense. Defense.
That is the name of the game for the ‘Outlaw’ Kevin Kiermaier as he made himself known with his defensive prowls in 2015. In the American League, Kevin Pillar had 22 Defensive Runs Saved, the second most in the AL; Kevin Kiermaier had the most with 42 DRS. This would earn him his Gold Glove award and eventually a Platinum Glove which is given to a league’s best overall defender.
Right Field - Austin Meadows (2019)
.291/.364/.558 * 33 HR * .380 wOBA * 142 wRC+ * 4.0 fWAR
Meadows quickly made his presence known for the Rays in 2019 when he homered in the team’s first plate appearance on Opening Day. That was just the start for Meadows during his All-Star campaign as he laid siege to opposing pitchers for most of the season as helped to lead the Rays to their first playoff berth since 2013.
Designated Hitter - CJ Cron (2018)
.253/.323/.493 * 30 HR * .347 wOBA * 123 wRC+ * 2.2 fWAR
Acquired during a puzzling slew of moves made by the Rays at the onset of spring training in 2018, Cron did exactly what the Rays hoped he would: hit a bunch of balls out of the park.
Cron provided the Rays with the prototypical power hitting first baseman numbers in 2018, but the Rays needed to find playing time for other players and Cron was relegated to DH duties in more than half of the games he played in. Undeterred, Cron still slugged whenever given the opportunity. As one would expect, the Rays would cut Cron the following offseason.
Starting Pitcher - Charlie Morton (2019)
16-6 (W-L) * 194.2 IP * 30.4 K% * 7.2 BB% * 3.05 ERA * 2.81 FIP * 6.1 fWAR
The largest free agent contract in Tampa Bay Rays history has gone pretty well thus far, as Morton was incredible for the Rays in 2019. Morton carved through opponents this past season and in terms of fWAR, no other starting pitcher for the Rays even came close with Chris Archer trailing Morton’s 6.1 fWAR mark with 5.1 fWAR. That either of those players are ahead of two Rays Cy Young winners might surprise you (David Price in 2012, and Blake Snell in 2018).
Your starting rotation for the decade has the following leaders:
- Charlie Morton - 6.1 WAR (2019)
- Chris Archer - 5.1 WAR (2015)
- James Shields - 4.8 WAR (2011)
- David Price - 4.8 WAR (2011!)
- Blake Snell - 4.8 WAR (2018)
Left-Handed Reliever - Jake McGee (2014)
5-2 (W-L) * 71.1 IP * 32.9 K% * 5.8 BB% * 1.89 ERA * 1.73 FIP * 2.5 fWAR
Jake McGee had been dominating in the Rays bullpen for awhile before taking over Grant Balfour’s closer role in 2014. Once taking the role, McGee relished with the opportunity and was incredibly dominant with an upper 90’s fastball that should be etched in your mind.
Right-Handed Reliever - Fernando Rodney (2012)
2-2 (W-L) * 74.2 IP * 27.0 K% * 5.3 BB% * 0.60 ERA * 2.13 FIP * 2.2 fWAR
Rodney, perhaps the most infamous reclamation project under the Jim Hickey reign, came to the Rays with extreme control issues, but an amazing arsenal. The Rays took him, slid him a few inches to the left and he impressed the Rays with solid control and an amazing arsenal. His mix of a triple digit fastball with a bugs-bunny change was nearly unhittable and Rodney made history as his 0.60 ERA was the lowest by a reliever in the modern era.
All 2010’s 25-man Roster
1. Carl Crawford, LF (2010)
2. Ben Zobrist, 2B (2012)
3. Evan Longoria, 3B (2010)
4. Austin Meadows, RF (2019
5. CJ Cron, DH (2018)
6. Logan Morrison, 1B (2017)
7. Yunel Escobar, SS (2013)
8. Jose Molina, C (2012)
9. Kevin Kiermaier, CF (2015)
Logan Forsythe, INF (2015)
Melvin “B.J.” Upton, OF (2010)
Joey Wendle, INF (2018)
Travis d’Arnaud (2019)
Charlie Morton, SP (2019)
Chris Archer, SP (2015)
James Shields, SP (2011)
David Price, SP (2011)
Blake Snell, SP (2018)
Jake McGee, RP (2014)
Fernando Rodney, RP (2012)
Jose Alvarado (2018)
Rafael Soriano (2010)
Joaquin Benoit (2010)
Emilio Pagan (2019)
Alex Torres (2013)
What do you think? Who would you put in your Rays all-decade team?