Are the Rays the Best Team Ever?

May 13, 2010
 
Let’s rephrase that, and give away the ending: the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays are the greatest team in baseball history.
 
We took a vote among the members of the Royal Order of Baseball Numerators and Youngish wRiters (ROBNYR), and after some heated discussion on the subject, we’re making the call: this year’s incarnation of the Tampa Bay Flat Sharks is the best baseball team ever. 
 
Sure, it’s a little early, but we want to get ahead of the curve on this one. We want to be on that cutting edge that everyone’s talking about.
 
You can scoff all you want. You can argue that 33 games don’t tell us anything, and say that we’re falling for the small-sample-size. You can accuse us for being overly sensationalistic; for caring more about getting attention than about reporting the fact.
 
To all that we say: guilty as charged. And: we’re still right about the Rays.
 
Here’s why:
 
The Rays, at this writing, have a 23-10 record, and have scored 185 runs while allowing 101. Breaking that down to averages, the Rays have scored 5.6 runs per game, and have allowed 3.1. Their run differential, per game, is 2.5.
 
You know what would take a lot of time? Trying to figure out where the Rays rank among all teams in major league history in something as obscure as Run Differential.
 
Here’s where they rank: second.
 
Only one teams in baseball’s long history has posted a higher Run Differential than the Rays have right now.
 
Here’s a table of the thirty-eight teams that managed a Run Differential higher than 1.5:
 
Year
Team
Run Diff.
 
Year
Team
Run Diff.
1939
NYY
2.7
 
1954
NYY
1.6
2010
TBR
2.5
 
1975
CIN
1.6
1927
NYY
2.4
 
1998
HOU
1.6
1936
NYY
2.2
 
1995
CLE
1.6
1937
NYY
2.0
 
1938
NYY
1.6
1931
NYY
2.0
 
1921
NYY
1.6
1942
NYY
1.9
 
1934
DET
1.6
2001
SEA
1.9
 
1910
PHA
1.5
1998
NYY
1.9
 
1974
LAD
1.5
1929
PHA
1.9
 
1998
ATL
1.5
1932
NYY
1.8
 
1947
NYY
1.5
1912
BOS
1.7
 
2001
OAK
1.5
1953
NYY
1.7
 
1931
PHA
1.5
1948
CLE
1.7
 
1948
NYY
1.5
1911
PHA
1.7
 
1956
NYY
1.5
1935
DET
1.7
 
1922
SLB
1.5
1953
BRO
1.7
 
1949
BRO
1.5
1954
CLE
1.6
 
1949
BOS
1.5
1969
BAL
1.6
 
1932
PHA
1.5
 
That’s not a great table…we’ll get to the harder numbers later. I just want to take a minute to point out a few things.
 
First: you know these teams. Actually, you know this team: fifteen of the thirty-eight teams are incarnations of those damned Yankees.
 
And you know the other clubs, too. Most of you could name the big players on the 1929 Philadelphia A’s, or the 1969 Orioles, or the 1954 Indians, or the 1934 Tigers, or the 1975 Reds, or the 1998 Astros. The 1922 St. Louis Browns are probably the most unknown team on the list. That was George Sisler’s .420 year.
 
The point is, these are the really good teams. And the Rays are ahead of ‘em.
 
Let’s Do Some Math
 
Here are the top ten teams in run differential:
 
Year
Team
Runs Scored
Runs Allowed
Run Differential
1939
NYY
6.4
3.7
2.7
2010
TBR
5.6
3.1
2.5
1927
NYY
6.3
3.9
2.4
1936
NYY
6.9
4.7
2.2
1937
NYY
6.2
4.3
2.0
1931
NYY
6.9
4.9
2.0
1942
NYY
5.2
3.3
1.9
2001
SEA
5.7
3.9
1.9
1998
NYY
6.0
4.0
1.9
1929
PHA
6.0
4.1
1.9
 
(Just a quick note: sometimes the math doesn’t seem to add up: the 1937 Yankees scored 6.2 runs per game and allowed 4.3, but their run differential is 2.0, not 1.9. It’s a rounding numbers thing: the 6.2 is a rounded number, as is the 4.3, but the difference is closer to 2.0 than 1.9).
 
The Rays are stuck between the 1939 and 1927 Yankees…the 1927 Yankees are a super-famous team: that was Gehrig’s first big season, and Ruth’s 60-homer year...the Yankee outfielders hit .356, .356, and .337, and the team’s catcher, Pat Collins, had an on-base percentage over .400…the team could hit. They blew out the Pirates in four games.
 
The 1939 Yankees are a little less famous: that was the year Gehrig retired, and the big stars were DiMaggio, Dickey, and Joe Gordon. But a lot of guys had career years for the 1939 club: Red Rolfe posted a .329/.404/.495 season, and George Selkirk walked 102 times with an OPS+ of 148. Charlie Keller got a chance to play: in 111 games he hit .334/.447/.500. Oh yeah: the Yanks swept the Reds in the World Series. Ho-hum.
 
Actually, a lot of the top-ten teams in run differential are Ruth/Gehrig or Gehrig/DiMaggio or DiMaggio Yankee teams: you have 1927, 1931, 1936, 1937, 1939, and 1942 on the list. There’s also the 1929 Athletics.
 
Just a quick observation: high offense eras have teams with higher run differentials. Also: smaller leagues are more likely to have teams with high run differentials. Here’s a table:
 
Decade
# of Teams
1900's
0
1910's
3
1920's
4
1930's
10
1940's
6
1950's
5
1960's
1
1970's
2
1980's
0
1990's
4
2000's
2
2010's
1*
 
The 1930’s had a ton of teams with high run differentials. So did the 1940’s…except for the year wars. Of the six teams with high run differentials during the 1940’s, none played during seasons. (The full list: 1942, 1947, and 1948 Yankees, 1948 Indians, 1949 Dodgers, and 1949 Red Sox.)
 
In contrast, there were no teams with high run differentials in the pitching-heavy 1960’s, not until they lowered the mound in 1969. There were two teams in the 1970’s, none in the 1980’s. There were four in the 1990’s: one in 1995 and three in 1998.
 
You probably suspected as much…the more overall runs your team scores and allows, the better chance you have at posting a high run differential.
 
I think we can all agree that the very best teams in baseball history didn’t all pop up during in the 1930’s. The Yankees had some great teams back then, but I think we’d all like to make room for other teams. Like the 1998 Yankees. Or, um, the 1956 Yankees.
 
So we should adjust things a bit. One easy way to adjust for contexts is to compare a team’s run differential with that team’s total runs. Taking the 1948 Cleveland Indians:
 
Year
Team
RS
RA
Run Diff.
Total Runs
Run Diff/Total Runs
1948
CLE
5.4
3.6
1.7
9.0
18.9%
 
The Indians, winners of 97 regular-season games, scored 5.4 runs per game. They allowed 3.6 runs per game, which gives them a run differential of 1.7 runs per game. Their total runs, in a typical 1948 Cleveland Indians game, was 9.0…1.7 divided by 9.0 gets us 18.9%...the Run Differential of the Indians was about 18.9% of their overall runs.
 
So let’s adjust the 38 teams by setting their run differential against overall runs. Does that mix things up a little better?
 
Year
Team
RS
RA
Run Diff.
Total Runs
Run Diff/Total Runs
2010
TBR
5.6
3.1
2.5
8.7
28.7%
1939
NYY
6.4
3.7
2.7
10.1
26.7%
1927
NYY
6.3
3.9
2.4
10.2
23.5%
1942
NYY
5.2
3.3
1.9
8.5
22.4%
1910
PHA
4.3
2.9
1.5
7.2
20.8%
1954
CLE
4.8
3.2
1.6
8
20.0%
1969
BAL
4.8
3.2
1.6
8
20.0%
2001
SEA
5.7
3.9
1.9
9.6
19.8%
1912
BOS
5.2
3.5
1.7
8.7
19.5%
1953
NYY
5.3
3.6
1.7
8.9
19.1%
1937
NYY
6.2
4.3
2.0
10.5
19.0%
1998
NYY
6.0
4.0
1.9
10
19.0%
1936
NYY
6.9
4.7
2.2
11.6
19.0%
1948
CLE
5.4
3.6
1.7
9
18.9%
1929
PHA
6.0
4.1
1.9
10.1
18.8%
1954
NYY
5.2
3.6
1.6
8.8
18.2%
1975
CIN
5.2
3.6
1.6
8.8
18.2%
1974
LAD
4.9
3.5
1.5
8.4
17.9%
1911
PHA
5.7
4.0
1.7
9.7
17.5%
1998
HOU
5.4
3.8
1.6
9.2
17.4%
1998
ATL
5.1
3.6
1.5
8.7
17.2%
1947
NYY
5.1
3.7
1.5
8.8
17.0%
1931
NYY
6.9
4.9
2.0
11.8
16.9%
1932
NYY
6.4
4.6
1.8
11
16.4%
1935
DET
6.0
4.4
1.7
10.4
16.3%
1953
BRO
6.2
4.4
1.7
10.6
16.0%
1995
CLE
5.8
4.2
1.6
10
16.0%
2001
OAK
5.5
4.0
1.5
9.5
15.8%
1931
PHA
5.6
4.1
1.5
9.7
15.5%
1948
NYY
5.6
4.1
1.5
9.7
15.5%
1956
NYY
5.6
4.1
1.5
9.7
15.5%
1922
SLB
5.6
4.2
1.5
9.8
15.3%
1949
BRO
5.6
4.2
1.5
9.8
15.3%
1938
NYY
6.2
4.5
1.6
10.7
15.0%
1949
BOS
5.8
4.3
1.5
10.1
14.9%
1921
NYY
6.2
4.6
1.6
10.8
14.8%
1934
DET
6.2
4.6
1.6
10.8
14.8%
1932
PHA
6.4
4.9
1.5
11.3
13.3%
 
This is a better list: among the top-ten teams, eight different decades are represented. The 1939 and 1927 Yankees still do quite well, but the 1931, 1936 and 1937 Yankees drop down on the board.
Here are the top-ten teams, by raw and adjusted Run Differentials:
 
 
Raw Run Differential
Adjusted Run Differential
1.
1939 Yankees
2010 Rays
2.
2010 Rays
1939 Yankees
3.
1927 Yankees
1927 Yankees
4.
1936 Yankees
1942 Yankees
5.
1937 Yankees
1910 Athletics
6.
1931 Yankees
1954 Indians
7.
1942 Yankees
1969 Orioles
8.
2001 Mariners
2001 Mariners
9.
1998 Yankees
1912 Red Sox
10.
1929 Athletics
1953 Yankees
 
The first list has a bunch of teams from the late 1920’s to the early 1940’s….it also gives the Yankees seven of the ten best teams ever.
 
On the adjusted list, the 1931, 1936, and 1937 Yankees drop off, as do the 1998 Yankees (they’re still at #12 on the list). The 1929 A’s also fall off the list.
 
Rising up are the 1910 Athletics (Collins, Baker, and a terrific pitching staff), the 1954 Indians (111 wins), the 1969 Orioles, and the 1912 Red Sox (Smoky Joe Woods’ amazing year). We also get the 1953 Yankees: it’s nice to see a Berra/Mantle team on the list.
 
The adjusted top-ten list drops off four slugging Yankee teams and a slugging A’s team, and gives us five teams with really great pitching …that’s a nice change of pace. The scales are more balanced. 
 
And: the 2010 Rays are now on top.
 
Will They Stay on Top?
 
We’re being really premature about this: it’s mid-May right now, and while the Rays are playing like a house on fire, we’re a long way to the finish line.
 
Still, there are reasons to be optimistic:
 
-Carlos Pena, the #5 guy in the batting order, is hitting .183, with an on-base percentage of .312 and a slugging percentage of .357. Those numbers will almost certainly improve.
 
-B.J. Upton is hitting .218. That will probably go up.
 
-Ben Zobrist, coming off an MVP-caliber season in 2009, has an on-base percentage of .347…that will probably go up.
 
-Jason Bartlett, the leadoff hitter, has an on-base percentage of .329. Sorry if you’ve heard this before, but that will probably go up.
 
-The Rays have gotten little production from DH, and little production from catcher Dioner Navarro. 
 
To sum things up: the #1, #3, #5, #6, and #7 players in the Rays regular lineup are playing below their abilities…and the Rays are second in baseball in runs scored. So their offense should improve.
 
On the other hand, the Tampa Bay pitchers are going to decline some. Don’t get me wrong: I think the Rays have some talented arms. But it’s unlikely that Price, Garza, and Niemann will all finish with sub-.300 ERA in 2010. Unlikely, but not impossible.
 
So it’s possible that, as a whole, the Rays will fall back a little bit.
 
And: it doesn’t matter. They’re still the best team in baseball history. The Rays have run the table while playing a weighted schedule that forced them to compete against the Yankees and Red Sox, in a superior league, at a time when baseball is a helluva lot tougher than it was in 1910, or 1940, or 1970. No other team on the list has as many contextual elements going against their dominance as the 2010 Rays do.
 
So we’re calling it. The 2010 Rays are the best ever.
 
Dave Fleming is a writer living in Chicago, IL. He welcomes comments, questions, and tithes to the Royal Order here and at dfleming1986@yahoo.com.
 
 

COMMENTS (31 Comments, most recent shown first)

MichaelPat
Hmmmmm... It's August, 105 games in... Who has the best record in baseball??
1:32 PM Aug 3rd
 
tonus
Gregory- I am assuming that this was not written as an entirely serious piece. When it was written I was impressed by the numbers but assumed that the relatively small sample size was a giveaway that this was more of a lark. Fast starts at both the team and individual level are fairly common in baseball, and it's typical for the law of averages to kick in before the summer ends. Or even before it begins, as in the case of this year's Rays.
2:32 PM Jun 23rd
 
tonus
Gregory- I am assuming that this was not written as an entirely serious piece. When it was written I was impressed by the numbers but assumed that the relatively small sample size was a giveaway that this was more of a lark. Fast starts at both the team and individual level are fairly common in baseball, and it's typical for the law of averages to kick in before the summer ends. Or even before it begins, as in the case of this year's Rays.
2:30 PM Jun 23rd
 
gregforman
For someone I assume is a fan of Bill James, I would think you would have known better than to make such an extreme projection off of 1/5th a season of data. The Rays are 19-18 since you wrote this and no longer in first place.

Do you still believe they are the best team ever?
6:03 AM Jun 23rd
 
tiller88
I'm way late to the party, and obviously this article was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek - at least I hope I'm right about that.

Clearly, here on June 20th we see the folly of writing such proclamations in May. As of today, the Rays have scored 359 runs and allowed 264 in 68 games, making their new per game averages 5.28 and 3.88 respectively, or a per game differential of 1.4.

The reader (I forget who, sorry) who said get back to him in August didn't need to wait quite that long, I guess. :)
11:58 PM Jun 20th
 
SkeptiSys
Fun stuff, ventboys. I doubt Carlos Pena would strike out 190 times though, as Ks are much more common now than 1967.
2:19 PM May 30th
 
hotstatrat
Interesting. I'm doing a project on figuring the best teams ever - that is which teams became the best that ever was up to their point in time. I've just finished the dead ball era, but the inspiration for this is that I think the 2009 Yankees were such - allowing that the leaagues improve a little each year.
12:50 AM May 27th
 
ventboys
Ok, for fun, the 1967 Tampa Bay Rays…

C- The usual crap of this era, several guys that hit 12-15 homers with a .220 batting average.

1b- Pena hits 25 homers and draws 70 walks, but strikes out 190 times and hits .210

2b- Sean Rodriguez gets the job and Zorilla becomes a supersub. Srod hits .240 with 13 homers in around 450 atbats, while Zorilla adds another 5 homers filling in for him against the tough right handers.

3b- Longoria is a star and a stud, and the huge strikezone doesn’t hurt him as much since he is basically a dead red hitter that can hit the high fastball. His walks drop to 50-60, but he hits .290 with 38 homers and 117 RBI. He finishes 2nd in the MVP voting to Yaz.

SS- Barrett hits an empty .270, but he steals 40 bases against a largely ineffective league of catchers and plays terrific shortstop.

Lf- Crawford hits .310 with 17 homers, steals 75 bases and scores 100 runs. The Lou Brock comparisons are rampant.

CF- BJ Upton hits .240 with 12 homers, and steals 75 bases of his own. He breaks Richie Ashburn’s record for outfield putouts, guns down 18 runners and makes 15 errors. Willie Davis sues him for identity theft. Upton submits the evidence of his 60 walks as proof that he couldn’t possibly be stealing Willie’s identity.

RF- I don’t even know who plays RF for the Rays. For this exercise we’ll have Zorilla and Kapler platoon, and let Gross play when Zorilla is playing 2nd. Between them and others, they hit .255 with 18 homers, 55 walks and are mid pack among the league’s right fielders.

DH- No DH. Pat Burrell isn’t here, and the Rays can all go to Golden Corral for all you can eat ribs every night with the money saved.

Sp-

David Price- 2.38 era in 245 innings, 31 starts and 5 relief outings.
Jeff Neimann- 3.12 era in 29 starts, 13 relief appearances, 232 innings
Wade Davis- 3.34 era in 28 starts, 12 relief appearances, 209 innings
Matt Garza- 2.61 era in 37 starts, 283 innings
James Shields- 3.47 era in 37 starts, 274 innings

Soriano pitches 120 relief innings and strikes out 145, with a 1.47 era. His fastball was invented for 1967. If he gets injured, Balfour and Benoit can fill in without much of a dropoff.

Wheeler does his best Bob Locker impersonation, pitching 135 innings and posting an era around 2.

The bench is Brignac/Zorilla/Rodriguez/Kapler/Gross/Aybar (with one playing 2nd and one playing rf), and it’s the best in the league by miles and miles. Jaso and Shoppach can pinch hit as well when they are not catching. Hank Blalock would not be on this team (no dh, no reason to sign him) and Burrell obviously wouldn’t be here, so Desmond Jennings might have come up to take the right field position.

I was conservative on the eras for the starters. Garza, in particular, could have gone sub 2 as could Price. I see a team that would score around 680-700 runs and give up just over 500. I see a record of 103-59 (bullpen struggles somewhat) to 110-52.

Oh, and I am insane. Lalagagablablapfffffft!

2:45 AM May 25th
 
DaveFleming
Thanks, Rob Neyer, for mentioning this on ESPN.
10:04 AM May 21st
 
ventboys
The Rays do have a replacement for Crawford in Desmond Jennings, and a lot of other outfield options. They need to make a smart decision about first base. Their strength is on the mound, though. Price, Davis and Garza makes up one hell of top 3, and they have several others that can pitch as well. I'm anxiously awaiting McGee and Hellickson.
10:32 PM May 20th
 
DaveFleming
Last night, during the YES broadcast, the announcer commented that the Rays were 'playing for this year' because Pena and Crawford and Soriano are all free agents next season.

When I heard that I thought: you're kidding, right? The Rays have SCADS of young talent: they'll miss Crawford, who is a legitimately great player, but they'll be able to replace Pena and Soriano easily enough.

The Rays are a fun team...I just LOVE watching them. If there is an overlap between the Red Sox and the Rays, I probably watch the Rays about 40% of the time. If the Rays game is close and the Sox game isn't, I'll watch the Rays. If the top of their batting order is due up, I'll watch the Rays.

One argument for the greatness of the Rays team (which I meant to throw in the article but didn't) is how easily they'd succeed in any era in baseball history. If you put the Rays in 1909, they'd do fine: they have speed and a lot of good-contact guys, fine defense. In the 1930's, they have same structure as the dominant offenses: two or three high-OBP guys to get on ahead of the big boppers, Longoria and Pena. In the 1960's, their plethora of arms would dominate the league.
10:32 AM May 20th
 
ventboys
The 1990's Yankees had Jeter, Pettite, Posada, Rivera and the older Williams (Crawford?). The Rays have ten times that amount of young talent. We all know that the Rays won't be able to keep this team together without a major change in revenue sharing. Once again, why is George Steinbrenner being shilled for the Hall of Fame? Can we get Selig to make a rule that this team has to be kept together?
4:20 AM May 20th
 
ventboys
Oh, and lost in the amazing stretch to call the Rays the best team ever, how good are these guys? They aren't even using Jake McGee and Desmond Jennings yet, forget Jeremy Hellickson. I am working on a research/bullcrap article about the 100 most interesting young players in the majors. How many cool young talents do the Rays have? 10? 15? 20? It's just an amazing conglomeration of young talent. I'm not sure that any team has ever had this much young talent major league ready all at the same time. I am a fan of young talent in baseball, a self described baseball pedophile. This team is making me so excited that I feel the need to join a support group.
4:14 AM May 20th
 
ventboys
I like it, Dave. I want a title like that. King of BS..... That is my dream.
4:09 AM May 20th
 
DaveFleming
Can I put that on my resume, Ventboys? "The King of Small and Baised Sample Sizes"...I could really go for that. It'd look good on business cards, too.

There's an acronym somewhere....KSBSS...Kiss-Bass? King of Biased Samples = King of BS. There we go. King of BS.
2:13 PM May 19th
 
raincheck
Now if you do the same analysis for the best run differential over a 33 game period by any team ..... But then, you know that and just wanted a good grabber headline.
1:11 PM May 19th
 
ventboys
Dave, my man, I am the biggest Rays fan in Spokane, Washington. I am warmed by your stance, and I would love nothing better than you being the first man on the planet to see that the Rays are the best team in the history of baseball.

That said....

Are you out of your mind?

I'm just kidding. Well, no I ain't, but you know what I mean. I love this team, but In their first 36 games they played just 7 against the Yanks and Sox. Toronto got this schedule last year, and they started out 27-14 before falling apart. I don't see them falling apart, because they have legit talent, but best ever? Dave, you are the king, the KING I tell ya, of small and biased sample sizes.
12:01 AM May 16th
 
monahan
Kev, perhaps you were thinking of the Ray-ngers?
2:08 AM May 15th
 
Kev
Oops! Pls. ignore Holland--not sure what I was thinking.


6:37 PM May 14th
 
Kev
Dave

Curses: you let the cat out of the bag. I picked (TB) over Cards in WS in pre-season because of the pitching, (add Holland and Davis, Bartlett as the glue, Zobrist as the Havlicek, and Soriano to bring it home.) The Sox and Yankeees are hurting--this just isn't the same Big East...
OR
We can look like idiots (along with other adventuresome souls) and crash and burn when Pena returns to earth, Shields never reaches .500, and Holland, Price, Davis and Garza make us long for Kazmir and Sonnenstein, and Crawford doesn't run.

Nice article--very persuasive.
2:11 PM May 14th
 
greggborgeson
Robinsong is absolutely correct. The Rays are and Yanks are virtually tied for the league lead in runs per game. But if you look offensive stat by offensive stat, they are an absolutely AVERAGE offensive team. Out of 14 teams in the league, here's where they rank in the key measures of offensive productivity: OPS: 7th; OBP:6th; slugging: 7th; HR: 10th; TB: 7th.

If they were converting hits to runs at a typical rate, their runs scored per game would be the league average, which is 4.5, not 5.6. This would still be an outstanding 1.4 run differential -- but it wouldn't land them on many of your charts.

Their pitching performance versus runs allowed DOES match up well. They have allowed the fewest runs, and they are at or near the top of all the major categories, like WHIP, DIP or OPS.

But small sample size distorts many things, and one cannot simply project the Rays to continue to score runs at anything like the level they have maintained to date.
12:28 PM May 14th
 
evanecurb
I think the Rays should change their logo to a silhouette of Ray Charles at the piano. Every time they won the final game of a series at home the loudspeaker could play "Hit the Road Jack" in the top of the ninth at high volume.

Or not.
12:23 PM May 14th
 
greggborgeson
Robinsong is absolutely correct. The Rays are and Yanks are virtually tied for the league lead in runs per game. But if you look offensive stat by offensive stat, they are an absolutely AVERAGE offensive team. Out of 14 teams in the league, here's where they rank in the key measures of offensive productivity: OPS: 7th; OBP:6th; slugging: 7th; HR: 10th; TB: 7th.

If they were converting hits to runs at a typical rate, their runs scored per game would be the league average, which is 4.5, not 5.6. This would still be an outstanding 1.4 run differential -- but it wouldn't land them on many of your charts.

Their pitching performance versus runs allowed DOES match up well. They have allowed the fewest runs, and they are at or near the top of all the major categories, like WHIP, DIP or OPS.

But small sample size distorts many things, and one cannot simply project the Rays to continue to score runs at anything like the level they have maintained to date.
11:49 AM May 14th
 
SkeptiSys
I like this analysis, mainly because it can be used to show that Ubaldo Jiminez is the best pitcher in MLB history based on his start to the season.
11:47 AM May 14th
 
ThomasQ260
too bad they can't generate fan support. I attended a baseball talk given by Peter Gammons and he mentioned that the Rays may have to be contracted within 5 years if they don't get a new ballpark.
I always enjoy going when I'm down in the Tampa area. The prices seem very reasonable compared to Fenway Park.
9:04 AM May 14th
 
Robinsong
The Devil Rays have scored quite a few more runs than Runs Created and allowed significantly fewer runs than Opposing Runs Created. Their run differential has a large luck factor. With normal luck, this team is not historic.
10:28 PM May 13th
 
Richie
One quibble. Injury guru Will Carroll writes that older players actually get hurt less often than young guys, they just then stay hurt longer. So I don't know that TB actually has an advantage then in that one way.
5:36 PM May 13th
 
Richie
Wouldn't a simpler way of stating it be "the % of runs scored in all your games that are yours'"? (that is, that you scored rather than them)

Very interesting coverage of TB's start. Thanks for pointing it out, Dave!
5:34 PM May 13th
 
josheehan
As far as the average age of their starting team goes, they've got to be one of the youngest baseball teams around in recent history. The average age of their 9 hitters and 5 starters is 26.7. The oldest player on their team is Pena at 32; Bartlett is 30. Apart from this, the rest are all in their 20s.

For comparison, the 14 players from the Yanks have an average age of 31.3 years...almost 5 years older than the Rays. Phil Hughes is the only person 25 or younger on their squad.

I don't want to overstate age, but let's think about this: what team is best-equipped for the long haul that is 162 games plus October? Being completely subjective, I'm 31 now, and I can tell you I sure as sh*t felt better and had more energy when I was 26. The Rays should not only have fewer injuries, they should also recover from injuries faster. Speaking of fast, they are just that: faster. This has huge implications for both base-running and defense. I'm not saying anything groundbreaking here I suppose. I guess my main point is that, in addition to the points Dave already mentioned, there's no real reason to think the Rays have to slow down.

Finally, I'm a Red Sox fan practically shaking in my boots, hesitant about our postseason chances. Yet because of their talent, I can't help but watch the Rays play and root for them just a little bit. Because let's not forget, this is all happening with a payroll of about $77 million, compared to the Yanks nearing $200 million and the Sox around $160 million. Crazy.

Just 5 years ago this would have been laughable, but I'll say it now: I am sorely frightened by the Tampa Bay Rays.
3:10 PM May 13th
 
bbbilbo
I wish my bookie would take this bet. Talk to you in August.
2:59 PM May 13th
 
MichaelPat
Very interesting. It prompted me to check the best 'best start' team of our generation, the 84 Tigers.

After 33 games they were 28-5, and had outscored the opposition 187-103, remarkably similar to the Rays (185-101).

Though they didn't end up on the list of great teams you generated here, they did handily win the AL East.

(Bill did a great study in the '85 Abstract on best starts.)

The Rays are definitely for real. Bad news for this Jays fan....
1:52 PM May 13th
 
 
©2022 Be Jolly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.|Powered by Sports Info Solutions|Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy