Tampa Bay Rays: Top 5 Active WAR Leaders on the 2020 Roster

Kevin Kiermaier (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Kevin Kiermaier (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

We take a look at the top five active WAR leaders on the Tampa Bay Rays’ current roster.

Tampa Bay Rays fans shoudl be gearing up for Opening Day tomorrow night under normal circumstances. Instead, we are left yearning for Yandy, longing for Lowe, pining for Poche, hankering for Hunter, and craving for Kiermaier.

Today we take stock of the top five players in career rWAR (Baseball-Reference). For those that aren’t familiar, Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs have different formulas to calculate WAR, so we went with Baseball-Reference.

5. Manuel Margot – 6.4

Manuel Margot is a defensive whiz with speed that kills. Over four seasons in the big leagues, he has an OPS+ of 87. He’s been pretty below average as a hitter with a career slash of .248/.301/.394, yet his 6.4 rWAR has been boosted by his defensive prowess.

4. Mike Zunino – 6.8

Over half of Mike Zunino‘s WAR can be attributed to his 3.4 rWAR in 2017 when he crushed 25 homers and hit .251. His average that season is 49 points better than his current career batting average.

3. Charlie Morton – 7.9

Through his first nine major-league seasons, Charlie Morton‘s rWAR was -0.7 total. Then in 2017, he went to Houston where they sprinkled magic on him. Morton has been one of the best pitchers in the league since 2017. While his 10.0 pitching WAR was damaged by the nine years he spent hitting (or not hitting) in the National League. He has accumulated 10.7 rWAR since joining the American League in 2017. Over the past three seasons, he has posted a 3.24 ERA with a 133 ERA+ while transforming himself from a groundball pitcher to a strikeout artist.

2. Blake Snell – 10.3

Blake Snell accumulated 7.2 of his rWAR during his 2018 Cy Young season in which he posted 21 wins and a  1.89 ERA.

1. Kevin Kiermaier – 25.7

And I give you our active leader in WAR, Kevin Kiermaier. KK posted 17.5 of his WAR between 2015-2017. Kiermaier has an incredible 127 defensive runs saved in his career. During that three year stretch, he posted a 105 OPS+ with some of the best defense the league will see in centerfield. His greatest season came in his 7.1 rWAR season of 2015. Kiermaier hit .263 with 10 homers and 18 steals while posting an incredible 38 defensive runs saved.

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The Rays have a young roster with an emphasis on defense. Hence, two of our top five players in active WAR are both centerfielders in KK and Margot. Add Hunter Renfroe and his 22 defensive runs saved from last season to the mix and this outfield defense could be truly spectacular in 2020.