st. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays had just won again Tuesday night, but their architects were freaking out over a small crack in the foundation. The pitchers had forearm problems, some could have used the break, and none of the minors were suitable substitutes.
Eric Neander, president of the Rays’ baseball division, wondered if there were any veterans available lined up to start in the minors the next day. I flagged the email for .
Anderson pitched for a month in the Rays’ farm system last summer. And most importantly, I was lined up to start the morning game in Omaha about 12 hours later. Perfect. Rays made the necessary calls, got Anderson to hand over the cash, and Neander booked a 7 a.m. flight on Wednesday.
That night, not surprisingly, Anderson pitched three scoreless innings against Pittsburgh for his first career save in the majors. Another win Thursday saw the Rays sweep the Pirates his three games, and his 26-6 record captivating. This was his best 32-game start in the league since his 1984 Detroit Tigers won the World Series.
But even those Tigers never beat their opponents so thoroughly and so quickly. The Rays, who will host the Yankees on the field in Tropicana this weekend, outscored their opponents by 113 points before earning his 3-2 win against Pittsburgh on Thursday. The last team to have a wider rand differential through 31 games: the Honus Wagner’s Pirates in 1902, a year before the World Series was created.
“Everybody has confidence and they know what we have to do,” said Harold Ramirez, who flew through four organizations before becoming a . 300 hitter for the Rays. “A lot of people seem to think we’re a weird team because we do weird things. But I know everything we do is right.”
all? It’s not a stretch. The Rays have the most RBIs in the majors, the highest batting average, the highest on-base and slugging percentages, and the most home runs. Despite the Rays using the most pitchers in the majors, he allowed the fewest runs and home runs, and had the lowest opponent averages and his OPS.
“It’s like they created these pitchers out of nowhere. It’s like people have never heard of them before,” he said, pitching in the World Series in Philadelphia last fall and fervently in the free with the Rays. said signed right-handed starter Zac Eflin. agency. “It’s been a rumor in the big leagues for a long time. It’s like there’s something in the water in Tampa. They know what they’re doing there.”
Ephrin’s three-year, $40 million contract, which went 4-0 with Thursday’s win, was the highest-paid free agency deal in Tampa Bay history. But despite all of his bargain shopping and roster abuse, Reyes now stands out with something traditional and reassuring. Consistency in both leaders and players.
Kevin Cash became the team’s manager in December 2014, but only one of his colleagues (Cleveland’s Terry Francona) held the current position. Hitting coach Chad Mottola and pitching coach Kyle Snyder are both in their sixth seasons. No other team has had the same people in the same roles for so long.
Then there’s the roster of 17 players (including those on the injured list) who were part of the organization in 2020 when the Rays won the American League pennant.
“Once you get a group that can play together for a while, it’s kind of like a March Madness team,” said right-handed reliever Pete Fairbanks. “If you go to a tournament and have a team full of juniors and seniors, those teams usually seem to have the ability to make noise.”
Raise is more than a group of role players who know the system. 6-0 lefty Shane McClanahan started his game as an All-Star at his stadium for the Dodgers last summer. The Yankees don’t have a regular .900 OPS player, but the Rays have six of him. Among them are the switch his hitter shortstop Wonder Franco and stylish left fielder Randy his Arrozarena, who hit his eighth home run on Thursday.
Franco, 22, is under contract until 2032 and Arrozarena, 28, is not on a long-term deal but cannot become a free agent until the end of the 2026 season. His payday may come elsewhere.
“I know I play for a small market team, but obviously I play hard and I do what I can to get that deal. Regardless, I think it will happen,” said Arozalena in Spanish through an interpreter. “We know we’re in big league business, but every team has a lot of money, regardless of the market.”
The Rays, as usual, get a lot for their money. Their player salaries rank among the lowest in the majors: Baltimore and Oakland.
Hitters lead the AL in barrel percentage, hard hit percentage, and exit velocity, and the pitching staff is the only staff in the majors to rank in the top three in all these categories. Statcast confirms these numbers, but it’s a proven formula: hit the ball hard and don’t let your opponent do the same.
“From an outside perspective, it looks a lot more complicated than it actually is inside,” says Snyder.
The Rays’ schedule is getting tighter. 427 combined win percentage through Wednesday for March and his April opponents, while none of his May opponents had a losing record going into the month. But the Rays, who have made the playoffs four years in a row, are realizing that no one doubts them anymore.
“We used to be like, ‘We’re this, we’re that, we’re gimmicks,’ and all of a sudden this year it’s working,” Mottola said of the Rays’ national impression. , it’s almost a little worrying, you say, ‘wait, wait, we gotta keep that underdog mentality’. If we believe we are good, if that makes sense, then we are going to lose what we are good at.”
The Rays are good at being different. Owner Stuart Sternberg, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, pioneered his office at the Wall Street-savvy front in the mid-2000s, and Neanderthal is the analytic hub co-founded by John Dewan and Bill James. Rays in 2007 after he worked for Info His Solutions.
But while it’s tempting to attribute the Raise’s success to data, that’s beside the point. Teams can accept information while respecting the heartbeat of their players. For Rays, it’s actually all secret.
The Rays used seven pitchers the night they scrambled to find Anderson, only one who faced the same hitter twice. The Rays are famous for this strategy. The opener, as we know it, is probably their most famous innovation. But the data behind it is mostly front line.
“It’s about making sure players are successful, finish a competitive day, feel good about themselves and want to contribute more,” says Neander. “You’re trying to build confidence. The ideal place is when everyone feels they can do more.”
Of course, the baseball season is very long. But so far, few teams have done more.