Every year it seems like there is one team that the collective baseball intelligentsia latches on to as The Team for that season. For 2020...
Have I mentioned how smart Buster Olney is?— RaysColoredGlasses (@RaysColoGlasses) June 24, 2020
Buster Olney Picks #Rays for World Series (via @carterfamilyins) https://t.co/mWL1EdVH2d
David Schoenfield: Counting up reasons the Rays -- yes, the Rays -- will win the World Series https://t.co/FqtRBkd5cy— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 7, 2020
The #Rays are champions of The Athletic MLB Alternate Universe!— The Athletic MLB (@TheAthleticMLB) July 9, 2020
Trading top prospects pays off
WS MVP: Daniel Robertson
⚾️ Dodgers come up short again
Read all the news from the 2020 sim https://t.co/seAniKfq0i#TAAU World Series stats ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/57DVEZhz47
Tag, we’re it.
Now, as easy as it is to get verrrry nervous about all this hype (I mean, that is the title of this article after all), let’s actually zag and lean into it for a second.
These are two of the best baseball minds, along with arguably the best baseball simulator on the market, all saying that the Rays, yes your Rays, are the team to beat in 2020.
And sure, part of it is that saying the Dodgers or Yankees are the prohibitive favorite is a far less clickable link (well, at least in the case of the two writers, OOTP cares not about your mortal clicks), but here’s the thing: Baseball is a fickle beast in any season, much less what we’re about to see.
Last year, when the Dodgers and Yankees were just as dominant, I remember another relatively small market East-coast team became the “It Girl” — the Washington Nationals. Now, if the season had been only 60 games, the Nationals wouldn’t be such a fun comparison, so it’s not as if we should start inscribing the World Series trophy with “Ta-” just yet. But baseball writers are a smart crew these days, and the simulations out there are about as good at predicting the ensuing chaos as you’re going to find.
No team can ever walk in to a baseball season as true “favorites” in the sense that you would take them over the field (even more so in 2020), and part of the reason this post is even being written is because the Rays aren’t the Dodgers or Yankees...
It’s not a bad thing to be the center of attention for a little bit, and, while this may get me scorned by JT for a month, I do think there is a tangible (even if it’s infinitesimal) amount of positive impact that could come out of a young team like the Rays hearing that they are being considered the trendy World Series pick for this year. Puff that chest out a little bit, Rays, and enjoy being the big shots, because the chance doesn’t come around that often.