Two weeks ago, we introduced the DRB “which Rays season was the all-time greatest?” bracket, a tournament style decider of which Rays season gets to rule them all. Check out the set-up and layout here if you missed, that, but otherwise, let’s get right in to the play-in round results, because there was lots of action!
2005 vs 2007
In a compelling seven game series, the 2007 Devil Rays were able to prevail over their 2005 counterparts. The 2007 squad was led by excellent offensive performances from B.J. Upton, Jonny Gomes, and Brendan Harris. However, among the more surprising of stats was the performance of Carlos Pena. The slugging first baseman hit just .050/.333/.050 during the seven games.
Meanwhile, the simulation Joe Maddon chose to bench Delmon Young for the majority of the season, going with a combination of Jonny Gomes and Elijah Dukes between the DH and right field position.
Pitching also did it’s part for the 2007 squad as Scott Kazmir, James Shields, and Edwin Jackson all delivered excellent performances, with the bullpen of Dan Wheeler, Al Reyes, J.P. Howell, Gary Glover, Scott Dohmann, and Shawn Camp combining to allow ZERO runs over 16 innings.
The 2005 squad despite losing, did show some success with Scott Kazmir striking out 20 over 12 1⁄3 scoreless innings. Unfortunately, there were some lackluster performances from Seth McClung and Casey Fossum, as well as a few others on the Rays staff that ultimately led to their downfall in the series.
B.J. Upton was named the series MVP due to his performance. He belted three homers and hit .320/.452/.680 over 25 at bats.
2007 advances, will play 2008 in next round
2000 vs 2001
The Hit Show came alive during this seven-game series. Well not really, they really just performed much like they did during the actual Hit Show season. Fred McGriff and Greg Vaughn were offensive forces, while Vinny Castilla disappeared. In fact, just looking at the stat sheets for these two teams, you would think that the 2001 squad would have won easily, but that’s not how baseball works.
Most of the lineup for the 2000 Devil Rays performed atrociously with McGriff and Vaughn doing the bulk of the work. They were largely supported by a pitching rotation that performed adequately enough for the 2000 squad to pullout the series victory. Ryan Rupe was a bright spot and a MVP candidate as he pitched 12 innings, and gave up just one run.
Meanwhile, for the 2001 squad, JASON TYNER SLUGGED .516! But the rest of the offense was mostly moot with five of the regulars in the lineup hitting below the Mendoza line. Esteban Yan and Nick Bierbrodt (who hadn’t been shot yet) also performed solidly with 13 scoreless inning between them.
The MVP of the series was Fred McGriff who hit .323/.323/.548 with two home runs over 31 at bats. Personally though, I think Greg Vaughn was robbed as he hit .348/.448/.652 with two home runs over 23 at bats.
2000 Advances, will play 2013 in next round
2004 vs 2006
The best team that sported the Tampa Bay Devil Rays name is moving onto the next round as they defeated the 2006 squad in a seven game series. The 2004 team was supported by not one player in particular, but a combination of decent performances. Jorge Cantu and Carl Crawford led the squad with nearly identical numbers offensively with lines of .320/.320/.480 and .310/.333/.483, respectively.
For the 2006 team, it was truly death by a thousand papercuts.
Pitching wise, the bullpen was tremendous with Bobby Seay, Trever Miller, Jesus Colome, and Danys Baez delivering 14 scoreless innings. Meanwhile, Jorge Sosa had seven shutout innings of his own for the 2004 squad.
Something to watch in the next round will be the performance of 19-year-old B.J. Upton, who hit .286/.400/.286 as the third baseman for the 2004 squad; his future self of 21 years old did not fare as well as he hit .077/.077/.115 for the 2006 team.
The MVP of the series was a player on the losing side as Ty Wigginton went off for the 2006 team, hitting .423/.500/.692 with two home runs over 26 at bats. Scott Kazmir was again a tough luck pitcher as he allowed just two runs over 13 1⁄3 innings pitched for the 2006 team.
2004 Advances, will play 2011 in next round
2003 vs 2016
The team I predicted that some would love but would 100% not win, ended up not winning a single game. The only team in the simulation to accomplish that feat, up to this point. The 2016 Rays easily dismantled the 2003 squad as several players excelled in all facets of the game.
Tim Beckham hit .462, Steven Souza and Corey Dickerson hit two home runs apiece in the four-game sweep. Mikie Mahtook was on pace for seven WAR with his tremendous showing as well. It wasn’t just offense for the ‘16 squad either as seven pitchers on the staff did not yield a single run. Jake Odorizzi had eight shutout innings. Drew Smyly pitched 6 1⁄3 scoreless during his outing.
For the 2003 Devil Rays, the key players atop their lineup struggled and when that happens, it can be awfully hard to win. Carl Crawford and Julio Lugo combined to go 2-for-32. Damian Rolls had the best showing with a .429/.429/.500 line. Rookie of the Year candidate, Rocco Baldelli, had the next best performance with a .313/.353/.500 mark.
Steven Souza Jr was named the MVP of the series as he hit .353/.353/.765 with two home runs over 17 at bats. Although, Corey Dickerson had strong case as he hit .333/.375/.800 with two dingers over 15 at bats.
2016 Advances, will play 2019 in next round
1998 vs 1999
When you think of power and the 1999 Tampa Bay Devil Rays, really only one player comes to mind...Miguel Cairo.
During the 1999’s defeat of the 1998 squad in seven games, it was Miguel Cairo who led them in slugging percentage (.567), belting a home run along the way. The two big boppers on the `98 squad, Jose Canseco and Fred McGriff, actually didn’t fare too well as they combined to go 7-for-50 with just one home run during the series.
The likes of Cairo, Dave Martinez, Randy Winn, and Kevin Stocker were the offensive forces, which is just bizarre as all of the players are far more known for their defensive attributes than their skills with the bat.
Pitching wise, Bobby Witt and Ryan Rupe had some impressive performances for the 1999 squad.
This was probably the most evenly matched series of the play-in round as the ‘98 squad also put up some great numbers. Bubba Trammell slugged .667 over 30 at-bats. Quinton McCracken, the 1998 team MVP, hit .345/.406/.448 while Bob (don’t call me Bobby) Smith hit .345/.406/.552 over his 29 at-bats.
Wilson Alvarez was also fantastic for the ‘98 squad, allowing just one run over his 13 innings pitched. But, it just wasn’t enough as the 1999 team prevailed.
The MVP of the series was Miguel Cairo (for the 1999 team) as he hit .367/.406/.567 with one home run over 30 at-bats.
1999 Advances, will play 2010 in next round
2002 vs 2014
The fact the 2002 team was even able to snag a victory in this simulation, in the immortal words of Professor Hulk, should be considered an absolute win.
The 2014 Rays were a team mired by injury, with Wil Myers missing the majority of the season with a wrist issue. if not for that injury marred year, the team could have very well been among the best teams in franchise history. However, that is not what happened.
In this simulation, Wil Myers excelled against the 2002 squad, along with Matt Joyce and a surprising offensive breakout from Yunel Escobar. With the offense just going nuts against a strewn together 2002 pitching staff, the 2014 pitching didn’t need to do much.
For their part, the 2002 team had an excellent offensive showing from rookie Carl Crawford, who hit .375. Randy Winn meanwhile, the team’s lone All-Star, hit .294/.429/.471 over 17 at-bats. Joe Kennedy was an excellent pitcher for the 2002 team, garnering the only win for them during the five game series.
The MVP of the series was Wil Myers, who hit .316/.350/.895 with three home runs over 19 at-bats.
2014 Advances, will play 2018 in next round
So there you have the play-in round results. Here’s a look at the updated bracket, via Dominik Vega.
Stay tuned for a potential preview piece before the second round. And then the results in two articles as we chug along.