With an injury riddled roster, the Rays still managed to make their fourth straight postseason appearance. The lack of offense was stunning at times and should be a major priority for the Rays this offseason.
The lack of a big bat in the middle of the lineup came back to haunt the Rays late in the season and during their brief two-game playoff run this postseason.
The loss of Brandon Lowe and Mike Zunino for most of the season contributed to that problem. And the Rays had no one on the roster or at Durham to deliver that big hit.
Last season the Rays ranked fourth in the American League with 222 home runs and were seventh in batting average at .243.
This season the Rays hit 139 home runs, good for 11th place, and were ninth in batting average at .239.
Lowe hit 39 homers and drove in 99 runs last season, while Zunino hit 33 home runs and drove in 62 runs last season.
This season Lowe hit eight homers and drove in 25 runs, while Zunino hit five homers with 16 runs batted in.
That’s 59 home runs gone from the offense this season, and the Rays knew it was a problem and did nothing at the trade deadline to acquire a big bat to help the struggling offense.
Sure, they acquired Jose Siri, and David Peralta, to add some offense, but they were kidding themselves if they thought those two guys would deliver the big home run when they needed it.
They’re not bad players. But, unfortunately, the Rays already have many of those types of players on the roster.
This week, Rays President of Baseball Operations Erik Neander talked with the media about losing Lowe and Zunino. “That puts a real dent in the power department of this group. And you talk about the benefits of all their experience being on their postseason clubs prior. You feel that.”
The Rays also struggled against right-handed pitching this season, hitting 216 with a .643 OBS. Compare that to last season when the Rays hit .253 with a .804 on-base percentage.
Neander also addressed the issue of the left-handed hitters on the Rays team. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had a club that has struggled so much against right-handed pitching as this one did. So that’s something we’ve got to find a way to improve.”
It sounds as if Neander is not going to stand back and hope for things to improve. Instead, he eluded to some changes coming on the roster.
“There has to be an open-mindedness to that. I don’t think it’s in us to just stand pat and assume things will get better. I think there’s an acknowledgment that our standards offensively, we want to raise them. And that includes taking a look at the group we have and figuring out ways to do that.”
David Peralta is a free agent. Kevin Keirmaier and Ji-Man Choi will likely play elsewhere in 2023.
Would the Rays consider trading Randy Arozarena or Isaac Paredes. to improve the offense?
Wander Franco is the only untouchable on the Rays roster on the offensive side of the ball. Arozarena and Paredes each hit 20 home runs, but they are streaky hitters. They will get you a bunch of home runs over a few games and then go cold for long periods.
The Rays have to find a way to be more consistent offensively.
It will be an interesting off-season, as we are just a few weeks away from the start of the free agency period.
The Rays have a formula that works in the regular season, but postseason success has been hard to come by for these Rays.
The goal is to win a World Series. So it’s back to the drawing board to see how they can build this team better offensively and to have more postseason success.