With the rollout of the massive 64-player all-time Rays Most Beloved Player bracket starting this week (check out the most recent podcast discussion here), brackets are in the air. (Ignore the fact that we’re in May, not March — time has no meaning anymore.)
As such, we’re going to roll out some mini brackets here at DRB, starting with an introductory article for each on the DRB website, and then moving over to the DRB Twitters for the actual voting.
The plan is to start first-round voting Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and will run until 3 p.m. The second round will run 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and the final will take place on Sunday, all of that voting to occur on the DRaysBay Twitter page.
To start things off, the perfect compliment to the Rays Most Beloved Player all-time bracket going on right now: Who is the most popular Ray right now?
Here are your first-round matchups (seeded randomly for most chaotic results), followed by a brief pitch for each. Check out the pitch for each and then go make your voice heard on Twitter throughout the weekend:
1) Willy Adames - Walkoff Willy did a pretty good job establishing himself as the Future Face of the Franchise in 2019, with a good case for the overall Face of the Franchise. He’s endlessly lovable, seems like a natural born leader, and, it turns out, is halfway decent at baseball. Great recipe for a Most Popular Ray.
2) Tyler Glasnow - Let’s start with his stats, but let’s quickly follow with his hair (you were robbed, T). His 1.78 ERA over 60.2 innings in 2019 is the kind of stuff that gets fan thinking Cy Young, and given his still precocious age (26 years old), and the fact that he has a pitching coach who seems to have unlocked his potential, one doesn’t have to dream too hard picturing that award on his mantle.
3) Wander Franco - Ok, if Adames is the Future Face of the Franchise, is Wander the Future Future Face of the Franchise? The most-hyped prospect in a lonnnnng time, Rays or otherwise, a vote for Franco is a vote for hope. And hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Vote for Wander, Vote for Shawshank.
4) Ji-Man Choi - My personal pick to win this mini-bracket, Choi is endlessly charming and has clearly clicked with the fanbase in a way only a select group of athletes in a given time are able to do. The Ji-Man chants during last year’s postseason were really something maybe never before seen. His ability to combine cult hero status with actual real, solid performance is arguably unmatched in franchise history.
5) Kevin Kiermaier - Likely still the Face of the Franchise, and almost certainly the most well-known Ray outside of the Rays homebase. Plus, those eyes.
6) Charlie Morton - The case for Uncle Charlie is simple. He’s the best player on the Rays right now, and he’s one of the best minds in baseball, to boot. Add in the fact that he chose the Rays as a free agent destination, and he’s got some serious sleeper vibes.
7) Blake Snell - The young star has positioned himself remarkably well this offseason as not just a voice of the Rays, but a potential future voice of the league. Not to oversell it, but there’s a universe in which 50 years from now, Snell is looked at as one of the most representative players of his era.
8) Austin Meadows - Not the most outgoing of the list here, but quite simply, he may be the best. If forced to pick which Ray would lead the team in WAR in whatever 2020 season we eventually have, it would be Meadows in a pretty easy decision.