After years of mediocrity, the tide is finally turning for the Tampa Bay Rays. The young core that is quickly coming to light will put the Rays in a great position for next year. The main key is the fact that the majority of players on the roster are either under team control or have arbitration for next year. This will allow the core to be on the team for another year.
The additions of Glasnow, Pham, and Meadows are key to this current positive outlook. Prior to this season, I told numerous people that I felt Pham would breakout this season as a future star player. In 98 games with the St. Louis Cardinals, he hit .248 with 14 home runs and 41 RBIs. Over 162 games at that pace, he would hit 23 home runs and drive in 67 runs. Hopefully, the RBIs would increase and only time can tell with Pham. However, Glasnow has been a stud since coming to Tampa. He has only allowed 3 earned runs over 12 innings. Meadows provides an unproven outfielder for next year’s squad. (Statistics from Baseball Reference)
Besides the new additions, there are numerous players from the beginning of the season that are cause for hope going into the 2019 season. One of those players would be outfielder Mallex Smith. He is hitting a stellar .298 with 25 stolen bases. Those 25 steals puts him third in the AL this year behind Dee Gordon and Jose Ramirez. He is also first in the AL with 9 triples. His speed makes Mallex a menace on the base-paths and allows him to secure long fly balls in the field. (Statistics from Baseball Reference)
Next year’s team will be solid all the way around the diamond. I have only highlighted four players but one cannot forget about other young bucks like Daniel Robertson, Willy Adames, Joey Wendle, and Blake Snell. Snell, for instance, is 13-5 this year with a 2.18 ERA. Obviously, record is not the best indicator for a pitcher’s success but having that good of a record on a 60-58 team clearly means something.
Tampa Bay Rays fans need to be optimistic for next season. The Tampa Bay Rays have not made the playoffs in five seasons but next year could very realistically be the end of that skid. This could be the emergence of a core similar to the one of 2008. Similar to the one that lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a World Series appearance ten years ago.