No need for introduction here, as you almost certainly read Part 1 of this round. On to the action!
2019 Rays def. 2016 Rays, 4-0
Finally a matchup that went as expected. The 2019 Rays had everything going for them as they seemingly did every right on every side of the ball and proved their merit during a four-game whopping of the 2016 squad.
The ‘19 team had six players slug over .500 and hit a total of seven home runs while the pitching managed to shutout the ‘16 squad in two of the four games with Evan Longoria being the only player able to get to the ‘19’s pitching staff.
If you want to see some pitching dominance, just check out the stats for those on the 2019 staff as eight pitchers didn’t yield a single run.
Eric Sogard, whom the ‘19 Rays acquired at the 2019 trade deadline, was named the series MVP, hitting .389/.389/.667 over 18 at-bats.
In reality, the 2019 Rays made it to the postseason and played an epic five-game series against the Houston Astros, losing to a dominant Gerrit Cole in the 5th and deciding game of the ALDS. The 2016 Rays meanwhile, were thus far the first and only team with the Rays namesake to finish in the cellar of the American League East.
2015 Rays def. 2012 Rays, 4-3
In another shocker, the 2015 Rays were able to take down one of the best pitching teams in baseball history and they were able to do so, with plenty of offense.
Four of the regulars in the 2015 team’s lineup has slugging percentages over .700. It was the offense that heavily supported the 2015 squad’s series victory as the starting rotations struggled with the exception of Matt Moore (7 IP / 0 R/ 9 K).
The 2012 Rays could have been the greatest team in franchise history if not for an injury that kept Evan Longoria out for the majority of the season. However, even with a healthy Longoria (.345/.367/.655) the rest of the ‘12 lineup just couldn’t muster much against the ‘15 squad with the key bats of B.J. Upton and Desmond Jennings providing little to nothing for the team.
The series MVP award really could have gone to a number of players for the 2015 team, but the simulation decided to give it to Brandon Guyer, who hit .440/.548/.760 with two home runs over 25 at-bats.
2014 Rays def. 2018 Rays, 4-3
Perhaps Kevin Kiermaier did something to miff Kevin Cash or perhaps Mallex Smith was just considered better than the Outlaw during the 2018 season, but the Rays Gold Glove-winning center fielder had only one at-bat during this series and who knows, maybe that’s why the 2014 Rays were able to stun the 2018 squad in a seven game upset.
Led by Joe Maddon, the 2014 team didn’t have much offense going for them but the pitching made sure they didn’t need much as they carved through the 2018 team’s lineup. Jake Odorizzi was the most impressive of the 2014 pitchers as he struck out 13 and allowed just two runs over 12 innings pitched.
Meanwhile, a tough luck loser for the 2018 Rays is that year’s Cy Young Award winner, Blake Snell, who struck out 13 and allowed just one run over 13 2⁄3 innings pitched. Offensively, Ji-Man Choi had an excellent series for the 2018 squad, but no one else really stands out.
Ben Zobrist was named the series MVP for hitting .348/.483/.565 with one long ball over 23 at-bats. But, again this was a series decided by the pitching staff.
In reality, the 2018 Rays were a very good team who were significantly altered by the trade deadline as they went from being a team that seemed destined to be barely above .500 to being a playoff contender towards the end of the season. Meanwhile, the 2014 Rays were mired in high expectations and performances that failed to come close resulting in a complete teardown of the roster the following offseason.
1999 Devil Rays def. 2010 Rays, 4-2
In no universe should this have happened. Someone needs to investigate the 2010 Rays for throwing a series as they were dismantled by the ‘99 squad in six games.
The sophomore season in franchise history had a pitching staff that the 2010 AL East champions just couldn’t figure out. The likes of Esteban Yan, Alan Newman, Dave Eiland, and Norm Charlton (and no, I didn’t make any of those names up) didn’t allow a single run. Wilson Alvarez and Ronaldo Arrojo teamed up to strikeout a total of 32 batters over just 22 1⁄3 innings pitched, giving up just two runs overall.
Miguel Cairo continued his simulation hot streak with a .310/.333/.448 performance. But, that didn’t merit him the series MVP award. That would go to Fred McGriff, who hit .364/.444/.727 with two blasts over 22 at-bats. Davey Martinez also had a very good series.
For 2010, there was just plethora of singles with an extreme shortage of extra base hits. The highest slugging percentage belonged to John Jaso and Sean Rodriguez, who tied with a mark of .364. So no matter the excellent pitching performances of Matt Garza and David Price, they just weren’t able to overcome the 1999 Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
All right, with all that chaos done, here’s what the quarterfinals look like, thanks to Dominik Vega. Check back soon for the stretch run of this bracket.