Tampa Bay Rays Need To Get Back To Manufacturing Runs


Gone are the days where the Tampa Bay Rays used to run opposing teams ragged. The Rays made themselves the Rays by having a propensity for creating runs, but in the past few years we have seen them go away from that. As the Rays plan for the 2015 season, one thing is certain- they need to start running and, by that, I don’t just mean they need to steal more bases. As we have seen to a degree with the Kansas City Royals this season, taking the game back to the opposing teams and forcing defenses to make plays to get you out is beneficial to a team.

Something obviously has to be done. The Rays were 27th in baseball in runs scored in 2014 ahead of just the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, and San Diego Padres. That said, the were tied for 11th in baseball in OBP at .317 (tied for 6th in the American league). Of the ones above them in OBP, the St. Louis Cardinals scored the fewest runs (619), 7 more than the Rays. After that, the next lowest were the Cleveland Indians at 669, (57 more than the Rays). The Rays were getting on base, but they were not finding ways to manufacture runs.

Wil Myers, David DeJesus, and Evan Longoria may not be fast in the truest sense of the word, but they, and everyone else on the team, can do the little things on the basepaths that will propel the Rays forward in the 2015 season. This extends beyond just stolen bases, though a few more of those certainly would be nice. Solid baserunning fundamentals should be top priority going into the 2015 season.

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Here we come back to the Rays lack of aggressiveness on the basepaths. The Rays have always been a team that walks. Since 2008, they have not finished lower than fourth in walks drawn. In that same time frame, their stolen base totals have went from 142 in 2008, 194 in 2009, 172 in 2010, 155 in 2011, and 134 in 2012 to 73 in 2013 and 63 in 2014. Stolen bases alone will not alone make up for all the ills of the Rays offense in 2014, but it is a part of the mindset that needs to factor into the Rays’ game plan. It will lead to more aggressive baserunning and more pressure on the other team to make tough plays to get Rays’ hitters out.

If the Rays can emphasize more aggressive baserunning, they will not be as dependent on stringing a series of hits to manufacture runs. They will not need to come through with the big home run in order to win ballgames. The Rays will be returning a lot of the same players from last year, and these players have the potential to benefit the Rays on the basepaths. Players like Desmond Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Guyer will have to be relied on to help bring more small ball to the Rays arsenal if they are to succeed. Additionally, the Rays could bring in a guy or two to add some speed the roster.

Simply put, the Rays offense did not get the job done this year, and it also was their least aggressive year on the basepaths in recent memory. Part of that may be due to the personnel that they have, but even speedsters like Jennings were unable to help manufacture runs on the basepaths. The Rays disappointed in 2014, and to get back to their winning ways we need to see them manufacture runs and be aggressive on the basepaths, just like they have doen in the past.