With the Tampa Bay Rays’ pitchers and catchers reporting in a week, it’s a great time to look back on the great players of yesteryear.
With the Tampa Bay Rays‘ pitchers and catchers packing their bags for Port Charlotte, anticipation runs high this time of year. The days can’t tick by fast enough as we await spring training games.
Right now seems like a great time for me to share my top five Rays of all-time. These are merely the opinions of one man. Feel free to share your top five lists in the comments. We start with the Crime Dog.
5. Fred McGriff
The “Crime Dog” didn’t arrive in Tampa Bay until his age-34 season, but his production was still at a high level. After a solid season in 1998 which saw him hit 19 homers, Fred McGriff experienced a career renaissance of sorts in 1999 when he hit .310, smashed 32 homers and drove in 104 runs. An All-Star bid in 2000 was another feather in the cap for the aging legend.
The 2001 season proved to be even better for the then 37-year-old McGriff. Through the first 97 games of the year with the Rays, he was slashing an exceptional .318/.387/.536 to go along with 19 HR and 61 RBI. McGriff was a highly sought after commodity at the All-Star break and was dealt to the National League contending Chicago Cubs.
He came back to his hometown Rays in 2004 at the age of 40 to get to the 500-home run mark but fell just seven short. While he didn’t have the longevity of the other players on this list, his three and a half seasons from ’98-’01 were statistically some of the best any player to wear a Rays’ uniform.
McGriff certainly had an outstanding career with a slash line of .284/.377/.509 with 493 home runs and 1550 RBI. With numbers like that it’s no wonder why he was deemed eligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. While he might not have made it into Cooperstown after falling off the ballot in 2019, McGriff’s greatness should not be forgotten amongst the baseball world.
1998-2001, 2004, All-Star 2000, .291 BA 99 HR 359 RBI, .864 OPS, 9.0 War