MLB Pre Season Power Rankings: #22 Tampa Bay Rays

Projected Record 73-89 5th in the AL East

Potential Lineup: 2B Franklin #2, CF Kiermaier#39, 3B Longoria #3, 1B Miller #13, SS Duffy #5, DH Dickerson #10

RF Souza #20, LF Rasmus , C Casali #19

Potential Rotation: 1.Archer #22, 2.Odorizzi #23, 3.Cobb #53, 4.Snell #4, 5.Andrise #35

Potential Bullpen: CL Colome #37, 8th Boxberger #26, 7th Farquhar #43, Cedeno #31, Ramirez #30, Romero #45

Gadea

Potential Bench: C Maile #46, IF Beckham #1, OF Smith , OF Coats

Injuries

C Ramos

     The Tampa Bay Rays suffered through another losing season in 2016 finishing below .500 for the third straight season. Tampa has always had trouble drawing fans to the ballpark in Tampa but on the field haven’t been able to score any runs which has made it nearly impossible for them to win ball games the last few years. Tampa finished 24th in baseball in runs scored but did excel in one offence category. That being Home Runs where the Rays finished 6th in baseball. A lot of the Rays hitters are heavy power little average guys and heading into 2017 that is the case more than ever with Logan Forsythe gone and Colby Rasmus coming into town. One Ray that stuck out last year was Brad Miller. Former shortstop turned First Basemen. Miller knocked out 30 Home Runs driving in 81 runs while batting .243. His big power year should force pitchers to pitch to Evan Longoria who when on is still one of the top Third Basemen in baseball. The Rays will be expecting a lot out of youngsters Matt Duffy and Steven Souza in 2017. Duffy came over to Tampa last July in the Matt Moore trade. Duffy missed a good chunk of 2016 due to injury but was a rookie of the year runner up for the Giants back in 2015 a year he hit .295. If he can hit for a high average he’d be a big piece to helping the Rays get base runners. Souza has been an all or nothing hitter and the Rays need him to be more of an on base average hitter than power guy. He hit 17 Home Runs while batting at just .247. If he can keep the Home Runs at 17 while getting more hits and less strikeouts he’ll really help this ball club. As for the starting pitching the Rays staff was disappointing in 2016. The disappointment has to start with Chris Archer, The 2015 All Star and ace of the Rays staff had an ERA of 4.02 with a record of 9-19. His strikeouts numbers stayed high at 223. If the Rays have any chance they need the Archer that had a 3.23 ERA and made the 2015 All Star team. Jake Odorizzi stepped up as a solid middle rotation guy with an ERA of 3.69 while Alex Cobb struggled to stay healthy again. If the Rays can get Cobb healthy and see Odorizzi continue to emerge as a quality starter the Rays rotation will improve if not things are looking bleak. The Rays bullpen finished 20th in the majors in bullpen ERA. The Rays lone all star was their closer Alex Colome who emerged out of the blue has a dominant force in the Rays pen. Colome pitched to an outstanding 1.91 ERA locking down 37/40 save opportunities. With a solid closer and a 2015 All Star Brad Boxberger in the back of the pen the Rays are actually in pretty good shape when it comes to locking down games. All in all the Rays offense just won’t be able to put enough runners on base to win games and the rotation has too many question marks. In a very tough AL East expect the Rays to have a hard time competing.

Image result for Evan Longoria and Brad Miller

Evan Longoria and Brad Miller can make for an elite 3-4 Power Duo (AP)

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