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Tampa Bay Rays: Five Rays Who Have Shined in 2016.

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In a season that resembles the days of the Devil Rays, there are however five that have shinned brightly for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016.

To say the least, this has not been a good year for the Tampa Bay Rays. They are buried in last place in the American League East and are in a race with Cincinnati, Minnesota and Atlanta for the worst record in baseball.

Things have not been this bad since the old Devil Rays days. However, there are a few shining lights on the team. Let’s take a look at five of them and their 2016 seasons to date.

Evan Longoria has long been the face of the Rays but never so much as this season. After suffering a couple of mediocre seasons in 2014/15, Longoria has come back to put together a year that takes us back to the halcyon days of the Tampa Bay Rays from 2008 through 2013.

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He has played 96 out of 98 games and for an injury plagued Tampa Bay Rays Rays team, that in its self is huge. However, it’s the body of his work that counts.

Longoria has a slash line of .287/.337/.538 with 22 home runs and 55 RBIs. Those numbers translate to approximately 35 home runs and 95 RBIs over the course of the season.

Even more impressive is the total of 55 extra base hits. These numbers match up with his average season numbers of 30 home runs, 102 RBIs and an .836 OPS. Add to that his continuing stellar defensive performance and he is the leading candidate for team MVP.

The next impressive performer is Steve Pearce. To date, he has a .311/.379/.526 slash line with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs.

Pearce has played only 56 games this season but if he had not been limited by platoon situations and injuries, his numbers would match Longoria’s.

In addition, he is an excellent situational hitter with 21 walks to only 37 strikeouts and leads the team with an .379 OBP. Combine these numbers with his ability to play infield and outfield and you can see why he has been a valuable member of the 2016 Rays.

On the pitching side, it starts with Blake Snell. Most of us had expected to see Snell spend the majority of 2016 with Durham.

However, the need for Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Andriese in the bullpen led to a June call up. Since then Snell has been terrific with a 3.05 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 44 innings.

He has the best ERA of any Tampa Bay Ray’s starter and his 2-4 won/lose only reflects the Rays’ season. If he keeps this up, he will be in the running for AL Rookie of the Year.

Equally as valuable to the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff has been Alex Colome. Colome was expected to be a late inning setup man for closer Brad Boxberger.

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However, when Boxberger went down to injuries not once but twice, Colome became the closer and what a job he has done.

He has been successful in 21 out of 22 save opportunities, has a 2.34 era and has 44 strike outs in 34 innings. All that was enough to make Colome an All-Star and probably cement his role as closer for at least this year.

Last, but certainly not least is Matt Andriese. Matt has become a very valuable Mr. Everything for the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff.

If you need a spot start or three innings in long relief or inning to set up the closer, he’s your man. In 2016, Andriese has eight starts and nine relief appearances and has posted a 2.70 era with 53 strikeouts and 16 walks in 70 innings.

He also has more victories than four of the five Rays’ starters. He came to the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade with San Diego along with Brad Boxberger and Logan Forsythe for Jesse Hahn and Alex Torres. A steal for the Rays.

The bad news is that the Rays are going nowhere this season despite the efforts of these five players.

The good news is that four of them are under team control through 2020 and hopefully they will still be successful when the Tampa Bay Rays get their act together. The fifth is Steve Pearce and it wouldn’t bother me if they locked him up for a few years as their DH/utility man.

Hopefully, by the end of the year, players like Chris Archer will find their game and the rebuilding process won’t take four or five years.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: A Chance to Find a Catcher

The Tampa Bay Rays certainly have the talent at both the major and minor league levels to make it happen sooner. They just have to figure out how to build a complete team.

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