Table of Contents

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A brief look at the Rays

Not sure if I'll do this with all the teams (probably not), but I'm watching the CHW/TB series this round so I can follow Griffey, and I'm really enjoying the Rays. So, I thought I'd do a very quick profile on them so I can learn about their season. I'm using the templates I've used this season for the Reds. Here we go...

AL East Division Wrap-Up
Team W L PCT GB RS* RS/G* RA* RA/G* Pwins
TB 97 65 0.599 0.0 790 4.88 685 4.23 92
BOS 95 67 0.586 2.0 813 5.02 667 4.12 96
NYA 89 73 0.549 8.0 797 4.92 734 4.53 87
TOR 86 76 0.531 11.0 700 4.32 598 3.69 93
BAL 68 93 0.422 28.5 790 4.91 878 5.45 72
Been a while since neither Boston nor New York won this division...1997, in fact, when Baltimore beat out the Yankees by 2 games. Pythagoras indicates that Boston was probably the better team this year, but with a projected total of 92 wins, the Rays are no slouch team. ... What's particulary interesting to me, though, is that they may have been the third worst team--the Blue Jays projected to 93 wins, thanks to their amazing pitching this year.

Nevertheless, the Rays had a combination of good offense and quality pitching, which put them in position to take advantage of a bit of luck. Congrats to them. They certainly have waited long enough to see some success.

Hitting
Last First PA BB% K% %LD BABIP AVG OBP SLG ISO OPS PrOPS lwts_RC R/G RAR
Pena Carlos 607 16% 27% 18% 0.298 0.247 0.377 0.494 0.247 0.871 0.927 94.4 6.55 43.5
Longoria Evan 508 9% 24% 20% 0.309 0.272 0.343 0.531 0.259 0.874 0.877 81.0 6.37 36.0
Upton B.J. 640 15% 21% 19% 0.344 0.273 0.383 0.401 0.128 0.784 0.761 89.1 5.91 35.8
Iwamura Akinori 707 10% 19% 20% 0.337 0.274 0.349 0.380 0.106 0.729 0.698 86.7 4.93 24.6
Hinske Eric 432 11% 20% 20% 0.270 0.247 0.333 0.465 0.218 0.798 0.870 58.3 5.31 19.5
Navarro Dioner F 470 7% 10% 24% 0.318 0.295 0.349 0.407 0.112 0.756 0.772 55.8 4.77 14.5
Zobrist Ben T 227 11% 16% 14% 0.252 0.253 0.339 0.505 0.252 0.844 0.878 34.6 6.06 14.4
Floyd Cliff 284 10% 20% 20% 0.302 0.268 0.349 0.455 0.187 0.804 0.860 39.3 5.58 14.4
Gross Gabe J 345 12% 22% 17% 0.279 0.242 0.333 0.434 0.192 0.767 0.806 44.2 5.04 13.2
Crawford Carl 482 6% 12% 21% 0.296 0.273 0.319 0.400 0.127 0.719 0.743 57.4 4.58 13.1
Bartlett Jason A 494 4% 14% 21% 0.332 0.286 0.329 0.361 0.075 0.690 0.667 55.2 4.35 10.4
Aybar Willy 362 9% 12% 21% 0.266 0.253 0.327 0.410 0.157 0.737 0.810 43.2 4.65 10.3
Baldelli Rocco 90 8% 28% 15% 0.333 0.263 0.344 0.475 0.212 0.819 0.792 13.1 5.85 5.2
Perez Fernando 72 11% 22% 22% 0.293 0.250 0.348 0.433 0.183 0.781 0.847 9.9 5.44 3.5
Gomes Jonny 177 8% 26% 10% 0.198 0.182 0.282 0.383 0.201 0.665 0.771 19.5 4.03 2.4
Riggans Shawn W 152 8% 20% 16% 0.238 0.222 0.287 0.407 0.185 0.694 0.791 15.7 3.78 1.0
DiFelice Mike 22 5% 5% 21% 0.316 0.300 0.364 0.350 0.050 0.714 0.729 2.7 5.09 0.8
Johnson Dan R 28 11% 25% 17% 0.188 0.200 0.286 0.440 0.240 0.726 0.928 3.4 4.43 0.7
Cannizaro Andy L 1 0% 0% 0% 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 N/A -0.1 -2.65 -0.2
Jaso John 10 0% 20% 25% 0.250 0.200 0.200 0.200 0.000 0.400 0.598 -0.1 -0.41 -1.2
Hernandez Michel 15 0% 20% 0% 0.250 0.200 0.200 0.200 0.000 0.400 0.436 0.3 0.66 -1.3
Haynes Nathan R 47 6% 26% 16% 0.313 0.227 0.277 0.227 0.000 0.504 0.636 2.8 2.18 -1.8
Brignac Reid 11 9% 45% 20% 0.000 0.000 0.091 0.000 0.000 0.091 0.527 -0.7 -1.96 -2.1
Ruggiano Justin M 81 5% 33% 27% 0.277 0.197 0.247 0.329 0.132 0.576 0.715 6.0 2.56 -2.3
Johnson Elliot T 19 0% 37% 25% 0.250 0.158 0.158 0.158 0.000 0.316 0.528 -0.5 -0.80 -2.6

While it pales in comparison to his amazing 2007 season, the Rays' best hitter was clearly Carlos Pena. Remember when he was available for nothing back in 2006? Oh well. After a slow start, Pena really turned it on in the second half, posting a 0.418 OBP & a 0.561 SLG...the Rays need him back in their lineup as soon as possible.....BJ Upton's power vanished this year, but he keeps getting on base thanks to a terrific walk rate and that provides a lot of value....Dioner Navarro had his best offensive season of this still-young career, bouyed primarily by a tremendous 24% line drive rate...players often return back to the 20% range following a season like that, but there are some who manage to maintain high line drive rates like that year after year (e.g. Chone Figgins).....The best power mark on the team, at least as measured by ISO, belongs to Ben Zobrist and his 10 2B's and 12 HR's in 200 AB's. That's rather out of character for him given his minor league career, though, so I'd be inclined to think that it's a mirage.....According to PrOPS, players who hit substantially better than their stats would indicate include Carlos Pena (might explain his first half?), Eric Hinske, Cliff Floyd, Willy Aybar, and Jonny Gomez. Players who may have gotten a bit lucky include Akinori Iwamura and (marginally) MVP-elected Jason Bartlett.

Overall, the Rays' offensive linear weights total 811 runs, which is 21 more than they actually scored. This arguably helps close the gap a bit between their Pythagorean record and their actual record.

Position Player Total Value
Last First Pos RAR Fielding PosAdj TtlValue
Longoria Evan 3B 36.0 7.6 1.9 45.5
Pena Carlos 1B 43.5 3.8 -10.1 37.2
Upton B.J. CF 35.8 -1.5 2.2 36.5
Navarro Dioner F C 14.5 7.6 8.8 30.8
Iwamura Akinori 2B 24.6 0.0 2.3 26.9
Aybar Willy 3B 10.3 7.1 -0.5 16.9
Bartlett Jason A SS 10.4 0.2 5.7 16.3
Crawford Carl LF 13.1 7.4 -4.8 15.8
Gross Gabe J RF 13.2 5.2 -3.9 14.5
Hinske Eric RF 19.5 -3.2 -3.8 12.5
Zobrist Ben T SS 14.4 -4.1 1.2 11.5
Floyd Cliff DH 14.4
-6.1 8.3
Perez Fernando CF 3.5 1.8 -0.1 5.3
Baldelli Rocco DH 5.2 1.1 -1.9 4.4
Johnson Dan R 1B 0.7 1.5 -0.4 1.7
DiFelice Mike C 0.8 0.4 0.5 1.7
Riggans Shawn W C 1.0 -4.2 3.0 -0.2
Cannizaro Andy L SS -0.2 -0.1 0.0 -0.3
Jaso John C -1.2 0.0 0.1 -1.1
Hernandez Michel C -1.3 -1.0 0.3 -1.7
Ruggiano Justin M LF -2.3 1.3 -0.9 -1.8
Haynes Nathan R RF -1.8 0.4 -0.5 -1.9
Brignac Reid SS -2.1 -1.6 0.1 -2.4
Gomes Jonny DH 2.4 -4.3 -3.8 -2.7
Johnson Elliot T SS -2.6 -0.4 0.1 -3.0
In yet another feather in his ROY cap, Evan Longoria comes in as the most valuable position player for the AL East champion Rays, at least by my numbers. Strong offense and strong defense at an above-average position pushes him over the superior offensive season of Carlos Pena.....Jason Bartlett, elected by the Tampa beat writers as the teams' MVP, clocks in here as the Rays 7th most valuable player, contributing just over a third of the value of Longoria when you factor in both offense and defense. Has Marc Lancaster commented on that? All I could find from him was this.....Navarro clocks in as the #4 player behind Longoria, Pena, and Upton. I'm surprised he doesn't get more fanfare for his season, which included great defense on top of his offensive quality.....Reserve Willy Aybar also places high on this list, outpacing (slightly) regulars like Barlett, Crawford, and Hinske (if he counts).....One thing that stands out for me on this list is that every full time starter is at least a roughly average defender at their positions, and no one pulled down the defense by more than 5 runs on this team. Overall, their fielding rates as 25 runs above average, which must rank it among the best in the league. Many have said that the biggest difference between last year's and this year's Rays is the improvement in their fielding performance (Longria to 3B, Iwamura to 2B, Upton to CF). This *is* a darn good fielding team, and it's a template for how the Reds could improve a great deal in a short period of time (the Brewers did something similar this year, with Braun to LF, Hall to 3B, and Cameron to CF).

Pitching
Last First IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 HR/F %GB BABIP ERA FIP OPSa BsR BsR/G RAR FIPRAR
Shields James A 215.0 6.7 1.7 1.0 11% 46% 0.287 3.56 3.84 0.705 96.2 4.03 47.5 44.2
Sonnanstine Andy 193.3 5.8 1.7 1.0 9% 42% 0.302 4.38 3.93 0.756 100.2 4.66 29.0 37.7
Garza Matt 184.7 6.2 2.9 0.9 10% 42% 0.270 3.70 4.15 0.681 80.2 3.91 43.2 31.4
Kazmir Scott E 152.3 9.8 4.1 1.4 14% 31% 0.265 3.49 4.39 0.725 75.2 4.45 26.5 21.8
Balfour Grant 58.3 12.7 3.7 0.5 6% 29% 0.217 1.54 2.23 0.462 12.2 1.88 23.0 17.9
Jackson Edwin 183.3 5.3 3.8 1.1 11% 39% 0.302 4.42 4.89 0.795 106.0 5.20 16.5 16.1
Howell J.P. 89.3 9.3 3.9 0.6 10% 54% 0.245 2.22 3.40 0.575 28.9 2.92 22.2 13.5
Miller Trever 43.3 9.1 4.2 0.4 4% 32% 0.316 4.15 3.37 0.685 19.5 4.05 5.0 6.8
Price David T 14.0 7.7 2.6 0.6 7% 50% 0.205 1.93 3.43 0.501 3.6 2.32 4.2 2.0
Birkins Kurt D 10.0 6.3 4.5 0.0 0% 52% 0.200 0.90 3.23 0.431 1.3 1.18 4.3 1.6
Reyes Al 22.7 7.5 4.0 0.8 9% 34% 0.297 4.37 4.07 0.719 10.7 4.25 2.0 1.6
Salas Juan 6.3 11.4 5.7 0.0 0% 20% 0.333 7.11 2.50 0.681 2.8 4.06 0.7 1.5
Wheeler Dan 66.3 7.2 3.0 1.4 11% 28% 0.190 3.12 4.51 0.608 24.3 3.30 16.8 0.8
Ryu Jae Kuk 1.3 6.9 6.9 0.0 N/A 100% 0.000 0.00 3.90 0.200 0.0 0.17 0.7 0.1
Glover Gary 34.0 5.8 4.8 0.8 7% 40% 0.336 5.82 4.67 0.838 24.1 6.39 -5.1 0.1
Dohmann Scott 14.7 7.3 4.3 1.2 20% 57% 0.356 6.14 4.71 0.862 10.0 6.14 -1.8 0.0
Bradford Chad 19.0 1.9 3.8 0.5 9% 62% 0.254 1.42 4.82 0.652 7.3 3.45 3.3 -0.3
Niemann Jeffrey W 16.0 7.9 4.5 1.7 15% 43% 0.300 5.06 5.53 0.847 11.6 6.50 -2.6 -1.5
Hammel Jason A 78.3 5.1 4.0 1.3 15% 47% 0.283 4.60 5.27 0.790 46.3 5.32 -2.8 -5.4
Talbot Mitch R 9.7 4.6 10.2 2.8 27% 38% 0.382 11.17 9.87 1.233 14.7 13.60 -9.2 -5.6
Percival Troy 45.7 7.5 5.3 1.8 12% 23% 0.168 4.53 5.89 0.699 22.3 4.39 4.7 -14.1
It won't come as a surpise that Shields takes top honors here, given his outstanding season. The Rays seem to have made a good choice in extending him prior to this season, and he's one of the better, lesser-known pitchers in baseball right now.....His teammate Matt Garza looks to have gotten a little bit lucky, but FIP still puts him at a 30+ RAR season along with slightly unlucky teammate Matt Sonnanstine.....Despite the injuries, power lefty Scott Kazmir continued to tally up the strikeouts when he did pitch.....Troy Percival was ejected from his role as a closer after tallying 28 saves (good thing too--check out that FIP and BABIP!), but Dan Wheeler doesn't look to be a whole lot better. The top players out of the bullpen, however, were unquestionably former Reds rehabber Grant Balfour and J.P. Howell, who make a powerful and intimidating right-left combination in middle relief. Manager Joe Maddon has been riding those two heavily during the first two games of the series, and with good reason.

Overall, the Rays' pitching base runs total 697, which is 12 more than they actually allowed. Combining this with the linear weights estimated total of 811 runs and plugging into a basic Pythagorean formula gives an expected winning percentage of 0.575 (93 wins). That's still 4 fewer than they actually had, and would move them down to second in the division. But it's one more win then you'd expect using their actual runs scored and allowed totals.

Overall, this is a good, balanced team with a lot of youth. Their best hitter (Pena) had a second-half resurgence, and they lost their MVP (Longoria) for a month due to injury. They have an excellent rotation, plus defense, and at least average hitting. The main weakness I see is a fairly weak back end of the bullpen, but that's bouyed to some degree by their quality middle relief in Balfour and Howell. It's an exciting team, and one that could absolutely win it all by the end of the month.