A little while ago, we broke out the Historical Rays Build-a-Lineup to help us get through the doldrums of December. Here we are six months later, and there’s still no baseball... So let’s break out the sequel to help us spend even more time on Baseball-Reference than we are now.
To review: The rules are simple. You have to create the best (or funniest, or most chock full of favorites) Rays lineup(s) you can make under a certain set of parameters. When we did the historical version, it was a $100 budget for a roster of 16 (catcher through right field, with a DH; four starters and three relievers) with the dollar amount being the players’ career rWAR with the Rays.
For the single-season version, the set-up will be similar. Sixteen-man roster, with a budget of $35, with the dollar amount being the players’ single-season rWAR for that year with the Rays. (Note: Negative WAR seasons just count as $0; you don’t get money back...)
Post all your lineups in the comments below. You can really get creative with the single-season lineups and easily kill a day or two putting together a dozen or so of these, even going into themes (All Left-Handed; All Versatile; etc.), but personally, I’m going with the old standard: Favorites
My Rays Single-Season Build-a-Lineup
Catcher — 2018 Jesus Sucre, $0.0
If you live your life trying to smile as much as Jesus Sucre, you’ll find yourself a very happy person.
First Base — 2000 Fred McGriff, $0.2
Not the Crime Dog’s best season by the advanced metrics (his defense hurt the eyeballs), but you still get 27 homers, 100+ RBI, an All-Star appearance, and an OPS+ of 110. Not terrible.
Second Base — 2017 Daniel Robertson, $0.3
Third Base — 2016 Evan Longoria, $4.4
Longo’s last great season in the Bay saw him hit a career-high in homers (36) and collect MVP votes despite a 68-94 campaign from the Rays.
Shortstop — 2019 Willy Adames, $4.2
Walkoff Willy established himself as such, and moved himself into pole position for next TRUE Face of the Franchise.
Left Field — 2016 Brandon Guyer, $0.8
The human magnet managed to get plunked 23 (!) times in just 63 games (!) with the Rays this season. All timer right there.
Center Field — 2018 Mallex Smith, $3.6
The Mallex International Speedway will live on forever in my heart. (And on any video game roster where I can roster him.)
Right Field — 2002 Randy Winn, $4.8
The 28-year-old’s breakout campaign saw him land an All-Star nod, and I’m guessing you were as bummed as I was when he was shipped out of town after the season.
DH — 2018 Ji-Man Choi, $1.1
There’s definitely a bit of recency bias to my roster, but Choi is probably my favorite Rays player of all time, so he would’ve got the nod no matter what.
Batting Budget: $19.4
Ace — 2015 Chris Archer, $3.9
Flaco Fuerte’s breakout season was the final piece of my roster puzzle, filling the arbitrary $35 budget I set to perfection. It’s a great season to get, though, with Archer making his first All-Star Game, nabbing a top-five finish in the Cy Young, and establishing himself as one of the can’t-miss young talents in the league.
Number Two — 2019 Tyler Glasnow, $2.5
Two and a half wins of value despite tipping his pitches and only throwing 60 innings. Unreal.
Number Three — 2005 Scott Kazmir, $3.4
There have been only eight pitchers to walk at least 100 batters while still managing to be worth over 3.0 rWAR. It’s a who’s who of some of my absolute favorites (Carlos Zambrano, Brandon Webb, Kerry Wood), as I just love an out-of-control-but-still-amazing flame thrower. I also rode Kazmir in 2005 MVP Baseball.
Number Four — 2015 Erasmo Ramirez, $1.8
See: Jesus Sucre.
Closer — 2012 Fernando Rodney, $3.7
I splurged here, but who could deny the Crooked Cap Closing Champion a spot on their roster when he was at his bow and arrow prime?
Set-up Man — 2017 Jose Alvarado, $0.3
See: Ji-Man Choi.
Specialist — 2010 Randy Choate, $0.0
I’ve got a small bullpen, so I might as well grab the man who pitched more than every other day in 2010, when he led the league with 85 games appeared in on the mound.
Pitching Budget: $15.6
Total Budget: $35.0
Who you got?!