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Could this all-time Rays team compete in MLB today?

It’s been a rough season for Rays fans to say the least. In the midst of a historic slump that may see them finish in last place for the first time in a decade, there isn’t much to smile about. Let’s try something different, shall we? Let’s take a look at all the best years by position including an all-time rotation and bullpen as well as who’d manage such a team.

Putting an all-time rotation together for this team isn’t as easy as maybe it sounds. One of the things the Rays organization can pride itself on over the last 10 years or so is developing their pitchers to become top of the rotation guys be it in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. They’ve even churned out some relievers who have become studs.

  1. 2012 LHP David Price (20-5, 2.56 ERA, CY YOUNG)
  2. 2011 RHP James Shields (16-12, 2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)
  3. 2014 RHP Alex Cobb (10-9, 2.87 ERA)
  4. 2011 RHP Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95 ERA, AL ROY)
  5. 2013 LHP Matt Moore (17-4, 3.29 ERA)

A bullpen gets tricky, as well. The Rays have seen some historic runs from their closer position over the years while at the same time seeing that position as maybe the biggest revolving door in their franchise’s history.

CL 2012 RHP Fernando Rodney (48/50 SV, 0.60 ERA, .167 avg)
SU 2010 RHP Joaquin Benoit (25 HLD, 1.34 ERA, 0.68 WHIP)
MR 2011 RHP Joel Peralta (2.93 ERA, .188 avg, 0.92 WHIP)
MR 2009 LHP J.P. Howell (2.84 ERA, .197 avg)
MR 2014 RHP Brad Boxberger (2.37 ERA, 104 K, 64.2 IP)
LR 2006 RHP Rudy Lugo (3.81 ERA, 64 G, 85 IP)
LR 2016 RHP Matt Andriese (2.41 ERA, 8 G, 18.2 IP, .188 avg)

I’ll stick with a 12-man pitching staff with a pretty solid bullpen backing up a rotation that would get the Rays into the 6th or 7th inning of ballgames pretty handily. Now it’s time for the lineup. The Rays have been known for having very mediocre to sub-par teams in this area for much of their history. Even in 2016 where they’ve been among the league leaders in home runs, they’re still not scoring at the clip one would think with so many long balls.

2B 2009 Ben Zobrist (27 HR, 91 RBI, .405 OBP)
LF 2010 Carl Crawford (19 HR, 90 RBI, 110 R, .307 avg, 47 SB)
3B 2009 Evan Longoria (33 HR, 113 RBI, .889 OPS)
1B 2007 Carlos Pena (46 HR, 121 RBI, 1.037 OPS)
DH 1999 Jose Canseco (34 HR, 95 RBI, .931 OPS)
CF 2007 Melvin “BJ” Upton (24 HR, 82 RBI, .300 avg, 22 SB)
C 1999 John Flaherty (117 G, 14 HR, 71 RBI, .725 OPS)
SS 2009 Jason Bartlett (14 HR, 66 RBI, .320 avg)
RF 2002 Ben Grieve (19 HR, 64 RBI, 30 2B, .353 OBP)

Bench: C 2008 Dioner Navarro, 1B 1999 Fred McGriff, OF 2000 Gerald Williams, SS 2003 Julio Lugo

The easiest choice to manage this group of misfits is, of course, 3x Manager of the Year (twice w TB), Joe Maddon. In nine seasons with the team beginning in 2006 and ending just a couple years ago in 2014, Maddon not only brought a complete change of culture to the organization but his baseball wisdom and zany clubhouse antics were a spectacle to behold. It helps he brought an AL Pennant, two division titles, and two wild card births to the area, as well.

So there’s your All-Time Rays, 25-man roster! Pretty impressive top to bottom considering the career years for most of the guys on this list. Have we seen the last of the magic that a lot of these players were a part of over the last decade? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, this franchise has seen it’s ups and downs but there are always positives to take out of every down. Always improvements to be made no matter how high you go.

This Rays fan will continue to believe the magic will return one day and finally bring that elusive World Series championship to the Bay area.

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