How Tampa Bay Rays added to the WAR Machine

Hunter Renfroe (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Hunter Renfroe (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

A look at the Tampa Bay Rays’ WAR rankings last year and how they have added to their WAR Machine for 2020.

How effective were the Tampa Bay Rays at manipulating matchups and getting the most out of their roster? They had 18 players with at least 100 plate appearances. Only four players exceeded 500 PAs (Tommy Pham, Austin Meadows, Willy Adames, and Avisail Garcia).

The Rays’ philosophy refuses to replace an injured started with an inning-eating filler who will bloat the ERA. They come up with creative ideas like using a series of relievers since they put up better numbers than one plodding pitcher just eating up the innings.

They help players like Ji-Man Choi shine by limiting his exposure to left-handed pitchers (career .185 BA against them).

Last season the Rays finished with the following ranks in the American League in fWAR.

  • 3rd – Starting Pitching WAR
  • 1st – Relief Pitching WAR
  • 6th –  Offensive WAR (despite finishing middle of the pack in runs scored)
  • 1st – DH WAR – We talked about how effective the Rays were at playing the matchups. Being first in DH WAR is a prime example.
  • 3rd in 1B WAR – utilizing a combination of Ji-Man Choi, Yandy Diaz, and a little Nate Lowe, the Rays played matchups and made the most of their guys.

Heading into 2020, the Rays have added potential WAR machines in Jose Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, and Randy Arozarena.

Martinez – plenty of DHing and first base if he can prove his glove worthy. His pure hitting ability and domination over lefties, plus fantastic on-base skills make him a prime candidate for a solid WAR season.

light. Related Story. Jose Martinez Stats

Tsutsugo – He is said to be limited defensively, although he’s versatile. We’ll have to see his defense for ourselves before we make that official. Either way, he’s a power hitter from the left who had elite on-base skills in Japan. If that translates to the Majors (and the Rays think it will) then he should add to the WAR machine.

Related Story. Tsutsugo Stats. light

Renfroe – Renfroe smashed 33 home runs in what is traditionally a pitcher-friendly park. His average an on-base leave something to be desired, but he does serious damage to lefties and his 22 defensive-runs saved last season put him in elite territory. WAR Machine.

light. Related Story. Renfroe & Martinez the Rays' Right-Handed BASH BROS.

Arozarena – I put him on the list as a hopeful contributor. We don’t know if he’ll make the team out of camp or not. The thought is he will serve, at some point, as the fourth outfielder. His speed has him clocked in the upper echelon of the league (tied with Ronald Acuna Jr. in ft/sc). Beyond his speed, he has put up very impressive power numbers in the minors for a small guy. Arozarena has a chance to contribute to every aspect of the game, and that’s why I put him on this list.

Related Story. The Power of Arozarena. light

The Rays have made quite the weaponry to their 2020 WAR Machine. How do you think they will stack up against our enemies to the north?

Next. Rays 1B Platoon Projects to hit 30 HRs. dark

Let us know in the comments below!