It was with great curiosity that I posed the question, “Who is your favorite Tampa Bay Ray?” to my colleagues at Rays Colored Glasses and my girlfriend Jennifer. I really didn’t know what to expect. After all, these guys cover the Rays everyday. They know the team in and out, and Jennifer is always right about everything.
The most obvious answer to the question had to be Evan Longoria, right? He is the leader of the Tampa Bay Rays, the offensive catalyst, and has a flair for the dramatic. With his first home run of the new season, Longoria became the Rays’ all-time home run leader. Not to mention, the Rays usually do not win when he’s not in the line-up. Arguably the best third baseman in either league, Baseball-Reference tell us that Longo’s 162 game average is 41 doubles, 33 home runs, and 111 RBIs with a .276 average. The past five years only Miguel Cabrera has had a better Fangraphs WAR (32.5) than Evan Longoria (30.6). It is hard to see why he wouldn’t be a fan-favorite with those kind of numbers.
Of course, it could also be David Price. The AL Cy Young winner in 2012, Price has established himself as one of baseball’s best pitchers. He is the ace and unquestioned leader of one of the deepest and most talented staffs in baseball. Not only that, but he is also a favorite off of the field thanks to his constant twitter interactions and goofiness. There a few reasons, if any, not to love Price.
What about Ben Zobrist? Mr. Steady, Mr. Versatile, Mr. Everything, Zobrist is the type of player any team would take in a second. He will never be at the top of any of the traditional offensive statistics, but he will post remarkably similar statistics year in and year out. Remember Miguel Cabrera and Evan Longoria being one and two the past five years in WAR? Yep, you guessed it–Ben Zobrist is third at 29.7. That is despite the fact that in that time frame, Cabrera has hit 190 home runs, Longoria 135, and Zobrist 89. The only player in the top-10 for WAR the past five years with fewer home runs is Dustin Pedroia. Zobrist also impresses off of the field through his constant philanthropy and love for his fans.
Then, there is Matt Moore. He makes throwing look easy thanks to his electric stuff and wicked movement. Coming off a 17-4 season, the ridiculous thing is he has room for improvement, something that we have to think he will do thanks to his dedication to self-betterment. One has to feel that eventually Moore’s pitching ability will even make Bugs Bunny jealous.
Wil Myers is the last player to mention. He holds a special place for my girlfriend and I. There first time I saw him play on TV he was fighting off some tough pitches and the next pitch, he flicked his wrists and hit a home run to right field. I texted my girlfriend, “WIL FREAKING MYERS.” I failed to say what he did and she asked, “What about him?” Ever since then, to us, he has become affectionately “WIL FREAKING MYERS.” Despite my obvious liking of him, there are plenty of other reasons to love Myers. Whether if it is because of his knack for power or his famous hair, Myers is yet another player that is easy to root for.
And the Winner is…Ben Zobrist. Voting went as follows:
Ben Zobrist 4
Grant Balfour 1
David Price 1
Matt Moore 1
Wil Myers 1
I was kind of surprised that among the writers, the mandate was clear: Ben Zobrist is the favorite. Four of the seven voted for Ben, with a fifth placing him a close second. I will dig deeper into the reasons in a following piece. The biggest shocker out of all this is there was no mention from anyone, including myself, about Evan Longoria.
Now, I turn to you, dear reader. Who is your favorite Ray and why? Please do the poll and then head to the comments to explain your reasons.
Who is your favorite Tampa Bay Ray player?
- Ben Zobrist (25%, 16 Votes)
- Grant Balfour (24%, 15 Votes)
- Evan Longoria (16%, 10 Votes)
- Wil Myers (14%, 9 Votes)
- Alex Cobb (8%, 5 Votes)
- Matt Joyce (5%, 3 Votes)
- David Price (3%, 2 Votes)
- James Loney (3%, 2 Votes)
- Matt Moore (2%, 1 Votes)
- Chris Archer (0%, 0 Votes)
- Desmond Jennings (0%, 0 Votes)
- Yunel Escobar (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 63