Putting together the Rays All-Time 25th Anniversary squad
Starting Pitcher: No. 22, Chris Archer
Quantifying the quality of Chris Archer and the value he brought to the Rays is an interesting task. Archer had a 3.71 ERA as a Ray and only a 107 ERA+, the lowest of the rotation members selected. A lot of that has to do with his inflated walk rate (1.232 WHIP, 3.0 BB-per-nine) and keeping the ball in the ballpark. Yet his underlying peripherals, such as a 3.49 FIP, suggest that the defense didn't exactly help him out, also impacting the ERA negatively.
What Archer did bring to the table every year was durability and stability. A two-time All-Star with Tampa, he pitched at least 190 innings in four consecutive seasons. His 1,082 innings pitched is third in franchise history, and his 1,167 Ks mark is just shy of James Shields. For a single season, his 252 strikeouts in 2015 and 249 in 2017 represent both of the highest K totals in franchise history. His wipeout slider is one of the nastiest pitches the Rays franchise has ever seen. Archer also brought a bubbly personality to the team, keeping the clubhouse and his teammates loose at all times.
Archer's name is, however, one of the most notorious in recent baseball history through no fault of his own. The 2018 trade that sent Archer to Pittsburgh elicited a return of Tyler Glasnow, who is in our bullpen on this theoretical team, future All-Star Austin Meadows and top pitching prospect Shane Baz. It's considered one of the most lopsided deals in baseball history, meaning Archer helped the Rays beyond his on-field play.
With the starters out of the way, we get to our reserves. Every team needs depth. We have five additional position players, including a catcher, two infielders and two outfielders. We also have seven of the top relief arms in team history. Relief pitchers often times are volatile, so accolades aren't taken into account as much. For example, Lance Johnson was once the Rays' All-Star representative while posting a 4.33 ERA. Not to mention, a lot have posted stellar seasons and horrible seasons back-to-back. Without any more hesitation, I present our bullpen: