With a relatively new team that started back in 1998, the Tampa Bay Rays simply don’t have the talent to stack with the star studded lineups of most other teams. The majority of their players are either still in the league or of fairly recent memory to most baseball fans. There’s a few intriguing players in their top three hitters but there’s not much of a supporting cast behind them. They Rays are likely to come in as one of, if not, the last team in overall All Time Lineup rankings.
1. Carl Crawford, LF (L)
2. Ben Zobrist, 2B (S)
3. Evan Longoria, 3B (R)
4. Aubrey Huff, DH (L)
5. Carlos Pena, 1B (L)
6. Julio Lugo, SS (R)
7. Kevin Kiermaier, CF (L)
8. Desmond Jennings, RF (R)
9. Toby Hall, C (R)
David Price, P (L)
Manager: Joe Maddon
2000-06: 194 Runs, 44 HR, 251 RBI, 2 SB, .262 BA/.298 OBP/.382 SLG
There isn’t a great option at catcher and I’d wager a likely platoon between Toby Hall and John Jaso in this situation. However, Toby Hall did play better defense which in this case, gives him the starting nod in our lineup. He played good defense at the backstop role and that’s just about it. He didn’t reward the Rays much offensively except for a couple home runs each year and about 30 runs scored per year. The RBI numbers weren’t great either though you could expect him hitting for a somewhat decent average.
Honorable Mentions: John Jaso
2007-10, 12: 402 Runs, 163 HR, 468 RBI, 12 SB, .230 BA/.360 OBP/.483 SLG
Carlos Pena’s career with the Rays spanned two separate stints and it’s safe to say his first showed significantly better results. He had a career year in his first stint as he hit 46 homers, drove in 121 runs, and hit for a .282 batting average in 2007. It wouldn’t be until 2009 when Pena earned his lone All Star bid when he finished with a league leading 39 home runs, 100 RBI, and .227 batting average. While Pena was a great source of power and RBI for the Rays, he also hurt them with a very low batting average. Nevertheless, the Rays need offense and will put Pena in the middle of the lineup and look for more home runs than strikeouts.
Honorable Mentions: Fred McGriff, Travis Lee
2006-14: 1,016 Runs, 114 HR, 511 RBI, 102 SB, .264 BA/.354 OBP/.429 SLG
Throughout his career, Ben Zobrist has been used almost like a swiss army knife. He’s played essentially every position on the field over a stretch of the season with the exception of pitcher and catcher. With Tampa, Zobrist did primarily play second and that’s where we’ll have him for this lineup. While defensively versatile, he also bats from both sides of the plate and offers a wide range of skills. He’s a good hitter with contact skills and has been known to steal bases during the prime of his career. He also has some power though no consistent to make him a significant power threat.
Honorable Mentions: Logan Forsythe, Sean Rodriguez
2003-06: 283 Runs, 40 HR, 212 RBI, 88 SB, .287 BA/.350 OBP/.421 SLG
Julio Lugo spent just four years with the Rays and still earned himself a spot on the All Time Lineup. That should tell you about the depth, or lack of depth, that this Tampa Bay team has. Lugo was essentially a speed and contact bat for the club and was fairly effective at his game during his tenure as he was enjoying perhaps his best years as a prob. While Lugo is the pick here today, that will likely change as Willy Adames gets more playing time and eventually, enough stats to pass Lugo on the list.
Honorable Mentions: Jason Bartlett, Willy Adames
2008-17: 780 Runs, 261 HR, 892 RBI, 51 SB, .270 BA/.341 OBP/.483 SLG
During the 2017 offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays traded their face of the franchise and best player in club history to the San Francisco Giants in what was essentially a salary dump move. An All Star in his first three years, Longoria was a promising youngster until he ran into some injury problems in his fourth and fifth year. However, he remained an efficient bat in the middle of the lineup and an above average glove at the hot corner. Coming to San Francisco, his skill set regressed and Giants fans, like myself, are still questioning why we even traded for him in the first place.
Honorable Mentions: Akinori Iwamura, Joey Wendle
2002-10: 765 Runs, 104 HR, 592 RBI, 409 SB, .296 BA/.3337 OBP/.444 SLG
Yet another player who saw his career begin trending the wrong way after leaving Tampa is Carl Crawford. He spent the first nine years of his career with the Rays and was selected to four All Star games. He was a very good defensive left fielder and used his speed on the offense even more. He led the league in steals four times and hit for a good average almost every year of his career with the squad. He’s an ideal leadoff hitter who has the contact skills to get on base and advance himself into scoring position on a consistent basis.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Joyce, Tommy Pham, Greg Vaughn
2013-19: 304 Runs, 67 HR, 233 RBI, 89 SB, .252 BA/.308 OBP/.421 SLG
While he only has two Gold Glove awards, Kevin Kiermaier is widely considered as one of the best defensive outfielders in the game and very gifted at his craft. He can cover a ton of ground out in center and was nicknamed ‘Outlaw’ for his ability to rob hits from opposing players. Offensively, Kiermaier is a much different player as he has some speed and power ability but lacks enough contact to make himself effective. He’s a strictly defensive stud though he surely has time to develop a more polished offensive skill set in his age 29 season.
Honorable Mentions: Melvin Upton Jr., Rocco Baldelli, Mallex Smith
2010-16: 311 Runs, 55 HR, 191 RBI, 95 SB, .245 BA/.322 OBP/.393 SLG
A primary center fielder his career, Desmond Jennings is shifting to right field where he briefly appeared during his first few years in the league. Jennings quickly established himself as a steal first player and not much more. He hit double digit home runs during his four year peak though that wasn’t exactly anything exciting. His average sat around the .250 mark most seasons and his defense was always around the league average. Having Jennings in the lineup isn’t necessarily a huge benefit though he’s better than any of our other options.
Honorable Mentions: Randy Winn, Steven Souza Jr.
2000-06: 400 Runs, 128 HR, 449 RBI, 20 SB, .287 BA/.343 OBP/.477 SLG
While he’s most remembered for his heroics in the 2010 World Series run with the Giants, Aubrey Huff first made a name for himself with Tampa Bay. He starred as a corner infielder who hit for a good average and showed power over a four year run before being dealt to the Houston Astros for fellow All Time teammate, Ben Zobrist. Huff will be a middle of the order bat for the Rays in this lineup as the franchise hopes to get a high batting average power hitter out of him.
2008-14: 82-47 Record, 3.18 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9
David Price was such a great starter and eventual ace for the Rays franchise during his seven year run. He would be selected to four All Star games and even win the Cy Young in the 2012 season. However, the small market team just never had the money to resign him to a big contract and with free agency looming, he was shipped in a deal that netted them future All Time Lineup shortstop, Willy Adames. While it’s a far cry from the aces of other teams, Price put up great numbers with Tampa Bay and serves as their starter in this lineup.
Honorable Mentions: James Shields, Chris Archer, Blake Snell
After being passed up on the Cubs managerial gig in our All Time Lineups series, Joe Maddon will be the pick to lead the Rays. he led the team from 2006 to 2014 when he suddenly opted out the final year of his contract in 2015 and instead, chose to manage the Cubs. During his time with Tampa Bay, Maddon was highly successful and led the franchise to their only playoff appearances to date. Despite going 12-17 in those contests, Maddon captured Manager of the Year honors in 2008 and 2011.
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