The Tampa Bay Rays took a lot of people by surprise this season with their 96 wins. Pitcher Blake Snell was not surprised as he told the media in spring training that he thought this team could be something special.
Snell’s words turned out to be exactly right as the Rays finished the season with 96 wins, tied for the second most wins in franchise history.
The 2019 team ties the 2010 team with 96 wins, trailing only the World Series team of 2008. That Rays team had 97 wins which is still the franchise record.
The disappointing factor is that nobody was their to witness one of the best Rays team in the 22 year history of the club.
The Rays attendance was 1,178,735 which was the fifth worst attendance in the history of the Rays. If the Rays had not done the $5 dollar and $2 promotion for selected seats in June, the Rays would have been lucky to draw 1.1 million.
The fact that Sturt Sternberg announced in June that he was considering building a brand new stadium in Montreal and one in St. Petersburg and split the season between the two cities did nothing to endear himself to the Rays fan base.
The Rays have one of the best front office staffs in all baseball with Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, but when you mention the Rays front office to the fan base they automatically think of Stuart Sternberg and right or wrong, the perception among the fan base is that he doesn’t give a damn about the Tampa area and could not care less if the area has baseball or not.
This team is in Tampa through 2027 and will go to Oakland on Wednesday night to play the A’s in the American League wild card game, the second time the Rays have played in the wildcard game in their history.
There were a lot of great performances on this team to get the Rays to the postseason. It all starts with pitching, and Charlie Morton was definitely the ace of the pitching staff and thats why he is the pitcher of the year for the Rays.
All Morton did was 16-6 with the third best ERA in the league at 3.05 and did not allow a run in his last two starts. With the Rays starters decimated by injuries, you could count on Morton to take the mound every fifth day and give the Rays a solid performance.
Offensively, Austin Meadows is the Rays offensive player of the year. Despite missing some time early in the season, Meadows led the Rays in batting average at .289, home runs with 33, and runs batted in with 89. Meadows was also named offensive player of the month for September.
The best player acquired during the season is a close call between Travis D’Arnaud and Nick Anderson. But the nod goes to Anderson. The bullpen was in disarray before the trade to pick up Anderson and the Rays were losing a ton of one run games.
Enter Nick Anderson who brought stability to the bullpen with a 3-0 record and a 2.11 ERA with just two walks and 41 strikeouts. With Anderson a part of the Rays bullpen, the team started winning those one run games as the Rays were 20-2 in those games after the Anderson pickup.
MVP of the Rays is Emilio Pagan. Pagan became the Rays closer at mid season and went 4-2 with 20 saves down the stretch to help put the Rays in the playoffs.
With Anderson working the seventh or eighth inning, and Pagan coming in to close, that proved to be a very successful combination for the Rays.
Let’s also give some credit to the best front office team in baseball GM Erik Neander and VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom as they seemed to push all the right buttons through the the season and brought in the right players at the right time to help the Rays the second half of the season.
It’s been a great ride with the Rays this season. As the calendar turns to October, lets hope that the Rays most important games of the season have yet to be played.