Every fan base in sports has that always entertaining discussion about who would make their team’s Mount Rushmore. You hear the topic brought up nearly every season in every sport. I want to take a different approach to the Mount Rushmore conversation and throw out there who I believe would make the Tampa Bay Rays “All Time Team.” Most Rays fans have a pretty good idea of who their top four all-time in team history to be chizzled into a faux monument. But as MLB All Star voting is in full swing around the country, let’s take a look at who would make the cut if the Rays had an all-time, all star team:
MANAGER JOE MADDON – To say he changed the culture of the Devil Rays would be putting it mildly. “JoMa” was not just a part of dropping the “Devil” from the name, he was also a part of a “worst to first” World Series run in 2008, in his third year as skipper, and had five 90-win seasons in Tampa Bay to go along with an AL pennant, two AL East crowns, and two Wild Card appearances. From 2006-2014, Maddon amassed a 754-705 record with a winning percentage of .517. Both all-time records that may not be broken for a long time.
C Toby Hall – Is the all-time team leader in…well…every major offensive category a backstop could have. Was in Tampa for six-plus years (straight) and took his last Major League swings back in 2008 as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
Best season, 2005: 135 G, 5 HR, 48 RBI, .287 avg
1B Carlos Pena – All-time leader in HRs (163), RBI (468), and runs (402) by a first baseman in team history and was a cornerstone at the position for five seasons in Tampa. Pena recently retired after playing in his final MLB game with the Texas Rangers in 2014.
Best season, 2007: 148 G, 46 HR (single season rec), 121 RBI (single season rec), .282 avg, 1.037 OPS
2B Ben Zobrist – Is this even a debate? “Zorilla” spent nine seasons with Tampa Bay as the first true “super utility” man in baseball. He holds team records for games played (1064), doubles (229), triples (32), HRs (114), SB (102), and OPS (.783) by a Rays second baseman. Did I mention he also drew an insane 542 walks? Zobrist is now a member of the Chicago Cubs…and as he turns 35 this month…might be having his best year to date.
Best season, 2009: 152 G, 27 HR, 91 RBI, .297 avg, 948 OPS
SS Julio Lugo – Might be the hardest selection, yet. However, in his 3+ years as the Devil Rays every day shortstop, Lugo hit .287 and has every major offensive team record for shortstops with the exception of batting avg…of which he is a percentage point behind Jason Bartlett. Lugo finished his career as a member of the Atlanta Braves in 2011.
Best (full) season, 2005: 158 G, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 39 SB, .295 avg
3B Evan Longoria – Could be the first player in team history to play out his career in Tampa. Came up in early 2008 and has been the face of the franchise ever since. The team records are many and his presence in the clubhouse for nine years has been unmatched. “As Longo goes, so go the Rays” is and has always been absolutely truth.
Best season, 2010: 151 G, 22 HR, 104 RBI, .294 avg, 15 SB, .879 OPS
LF Carl Crawford – Another no-brainer here. CC is one of the most consistent hitters the Rays have ever seen come through the organization. His career .296 avg in Tampa is a team record in nine seasons with the ball club. Crawford hasn’t been able to stay healthy since leaving the Rays, however. He’s been in Los Angeles with the Dodgers since leaving Boston in 2013 and hasn’t played a full season since his final in Tampa back in 2010.
Best season, 2010: 154 G, 19 HR, 90 RBI, .307 avg, 47 SB
CF BJ Upton – Kiermaier is on his way for sure, but all-time has to go to Upton. He played eight seasons in Tampa and by a large margin, more games (966) than anyone else in team history at the position after converting from the infield. Like quite a few others, Upton hasn’t been the same hitter since leaving the Rays in 2013 for Atlanta where, after just two seasons as a Brave, was sent to San Diego before the 2015 season where he is today.
Best season, 2007: 129 G, 24 HR, 82 RBI, .300 avg, 22 SB
RF Matt Joyce – Might not be the popular pick (some would say Aubrey Huff) but Joyce manned right field for Tampa Bay for six seasons and 633 games. He hit .250 while in Tampa and slugged 76 HRs which is a team record at the position. Joyce has started to turn his career around with the Pirates in 2016 after a very forgettable stint in Anaheim in 2015.
Best season, 2011: 141 G, 19 HR, 75 RBI, .277 avg, 13 SB
SP David Price (L) – You’re the only Cy Young winner in team history. That helps. However you also hold the team record for SP in ERA (3.18) and are only pitcher in team history to have 19 and 20 win seasons respectively. Price is now the ace in the Red Sox rotation after a brief stint with the Tigers and Blue Jays since leaving Tampa Bay.
Best season, 2012 (Cy Young): 20-5, 2.56 ERA, 211 IP, 205 K
SP James Shields (R) – All-time franchise leader in every major SP category except avg against and WHIP. Spent seven years in a Rays uniform and never missed a single start in his last five years with the team, starting in 33 games every year from 2008-2012. Shields has spent time with the Royals and Padres, where he continues to be a horse in San Diego.
Best season, 2011: 16-12, 2.82 ERA, 249.1 IP, 225 K, 11 CG, 4 SO
SP Chris Archer (R) – Could very well have one of the most deadly changeups in the game. Archer had a Cy Young-caliber ’15 before a very up and down start to ’16 campaign. He does, however, rank in the Top 4-5 in most major SP categories all-time in just 4+ years with the Rays.
Best season, 2015: 12-13, 3.23 ERA, 212 IP, 252 K
SP Scott Kazmir (L) – Spent 5+ years as a Devil Ray/Ray before being traded in 2009 to the Angels. Kaz was a strikeout champion in 2007 and had five consecutive double-digit win seasons, finishing with 55, good for third most, all-time. Kazmir has been a journeyman since leaving Tampa for Anaheim pitching for his fifth team since ’09. He’s now back in Los Angeles but this time in Dodger blue.
Best season, 2007 (Strikeout champ): 13-9, 3.48 ERA, 206.2 IP, 239 K
SP Alex Cobb (R) – Despite having yet to pitch more than 27 games in a season, Cobb has shown signs of being one of the best in the game when healthy. He’s had back-to-back seasons (2014, 2015) of sub-3 ERA in 49 combined starts. Since coming up in 2011, he’s amassed a 35-23 record with a career ERA of 3.21 and an impressive 1.19 WHIP in 81 games.
Best season, 2013: 11-3, 2.76 ERA, 143.1 IP, 134 K
CL Roberto Hernandez (R)
Best season, 1999: 72 G, 43/47 SV, 3.07 ERA, 73.1 IP
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