Tampa Bay Rays 2023 Season Outlook
This is the year they fall…nope…no it’s not.
It’s getting to be ludicrous: how baseball pundits continually dismiss the Tampa Bay Rays. Year after year, people who follow the fame, including those who wrote for this very site, say there’s no way Tampa Bay can continue winning with what they have, and every year Tampa Bay proves them wrong. The Rays are off to a scorching start to the 2023 campaign and the recipe for success has been fairly simple: good pitching and timely hitting.
Yandy Diaz is more than halfway to his career high (7) in home runs (13) and is walking more than he is striking out. It’s funny how line drives turn into hits now that Major League Baseball has done away with the ability of defenses to shift players. But don’t take away credit from Diaz. He didn’t need Baseball’s help. He hit .296 last year without it.
I’m not sure when Brandon Lowe is going to realize that the ball was more responsible for his hitting 39 home runs a couple of years ago than he was. He used to be a decent hitter, but that year ruined him at the plate. He’s an offensive liability.
Wander Franco is neither an offensive nor a defensive liability -and at 22- is poised to be the offensive leader of this team for a very long time. He is a switch hitter with 20-homer potential. (.299 with six dingers so far). The question is, will he be able to play a full season? He strikes out only once every other game and has decent power. He also averages an error only every 13 games. That’s not bad at the shortstop position and the percentage is dropping every year.
The genius of the Rays is their ability to draft and replace aging/more expensive players. On the mound, the new kids Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen have earned run averages just a shade over three. They also have taken a guy like Jeffrey Springs, who had an ERA around 7.00 as a reliever with Texas and Boston, and made him a starter. He went 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 2022. Taj Bradley is a wildcard, having struggled in AAA last year but he has excelled everywhere else. Jalen Beeks could serve as a fourth starter. Garrett Cleavinger, Jason Adam and Pete Fairbanks are all solid out of the pen. Calvin Faucher has an ERA around half-a-dozen. Not sure why he’s on the team.
Forecast: perfect team? No. Good enough to win a ton of games…again? Yep. No one can keep winning at the rate they are, but they will win enough to make the postseason.