In a year full of surprises, the Rays MVP should not surprise anyone.
Blake Snell, Mallex Smith, and Joey Wendle rose above all other Rays players in 2018 and put the team on their back. They proved to be the most valuable players and just so happened that one is an infielder, an outfielder, and a pitcher. If the Rays had kept Wilson Ramos I have a feeling that we would have had a catcher finalist too. Let’s break down the three finalists…
Blake Snell, LHP
Rarely do we see a pitcher have as dominant of a year on the mound as Blake Snell did in 2018, and dominant he was. He was first in the American League in ERA (1.98), Wins (21), Hits per 9 (5.579), and WAR regarding pitchers (7.5). Blake became the American League first pitcher to post an ERA below two since Pedro Martinez did so in 2000 (1.74). It isn’t only possible, but probable that he wins his first American League CY Young Award as well.
Every time Blake Snell steps on a mound he gives the Rays a chance to win. He was consistently dominant against the best teams in the league especially teams in our own division. Snell was the workhorse of the staff, which at one point only consisted of him. He gave the bullpen rest when they needed it, which was often, due to the injuries sustained in the the starting rotation. Finally, the Rays ace put together the best pitching season in Rays history, what more could we ask for.
Mallex Smith, OF
Two words, Mallex effect.
Mallex Smith gave the Rays the speed they lacked, yet so desired. In stealing 40 bases and hitting 10 triples, he led the American League in both categories. Smith hit .296 and more importantly led all Rays who played at least 100 games in a Rays uniform this year in OBP which was .367. On defense he was one of only three players to to log 1000 innings. He provided Kevin Cash with speed to burn and a trusted bat to bunt with. His .296 clip at the plate was second only to Joey Wendle.
Mallex Smith’s value boils down to two words though…Mallex Effect.
Joey Wendle, U
By the end of the year we had all fallen in love with Joey Wendle. The do-everything Ben Zobrist of the Kevin Cash led Rays won us all over with his professionalism and quiet charm. A wizard with the glove and a .300 hitter at the plate who drove in 61 runs, proved to be a invaluable piece of the puzzle that was the 2018 Tampa Bay Rays. He led the team in average and WAR. He was one of three Rays players (Mallex Smith and Matt Duffy) to log over 1000 innings on defense and led the group in fielding percentage.
His value resides in his ability to play virtually anywhere and provide stellar defense, hit anywhere and provide quality at bats, all while being a true professional who just goes to work day after day.
Tampa Bay Rays 2018 MVP
I understand the value that Mallex Smith and Joey Wendle had this past year for the Rays but I cannot ignore the reality that is Blake Snell. Blake Snell was utterly dominant in 2018 and provided the Rays 31 chances to win this year and they prevailed 22 times. Out of the 9 times they lost, 6 games were decided by 1 run. He was absolutely outstanding down the stretch and practically untouchable, which only solidified his MVP candidacy.
Blake Snell was, without a doubt the most valuable Ray in 2018.
Tampa Bay Rays
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