Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rays Power Rankings

No, this is not going to be the standard power rankings where I rank all of the MLB teams. This is where I will look at members of the Rays in terms of whose stock is increasing and whose is decreasing. All Rays’ players, personnel, and anyone in any way affiliated to the team are eligible. Each time I will give a top 10 and a bottom 5. In future weeks I will give trends as well.

Here are the rankings for recent games through July 5th:

Top 10

1) Bobby Ramos – The bullpen started off shaky, especially compared to last season. The bullpen’s ERA is currently lower than it was through the same amount of games in 2008. I think it’s about time that Ramos does a cannonball into the stingray tank. I have to give credit to this coach when the next 3 spots go to his players.

2) J.P. Howell – Howell hasn’t given up a run since May, and finally tied Troy Percival for the team lead in saves with 6. Howell seems to be settling into the closer’s role and is the anchor during winning streaks. He easily could have been an all-star.

3) Dan Wheeler – Wheeler hasn’t given up a run since June 6 and is getting more and more reliable by the day.

4) Grant Balfour – Balfour is starting to show signs of his dominance from 2008. Oh yea, he also hasn’t given up a run since June 7.

5) Carl Crawford – CC has a 13 game hitting streak and even though he has slowed down a bit, still leads the MLB in stolen bases by 6 over Jacoby Ellsbury.

6) Tampa Bay Rays’ Marketing Department – The Rays are 11-0 when they have a Saturday night concert. Smash Mouth is playing this Saturday. Nice timing. I also have to give them credit for their “Vote for ‘Los” campaign, trying to make Carlos Pena the last player on the all-star team.

7) BJ Upton – BJ hit .324 and had an on base percentage of .395 in the month of June. He has been improving steadily since his slow start of the season. Now if he could just work on the strikeouts.

8) The Ambiguously Gabe Duo – Gabe Kapler has a hit in 6 of his last 8 appearances while Gabe Gross keeps adding up outfield assists.

9) The Double-Play Connection – Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist both made their first all-star games and that deserves a lot of credit. They have both been struggling a bit lately, or this ranking would be much higher.

10) Joe Dillon – Dillon actually got an at-bat. It may have been a strikeout, but it was an at-bat.

Bottom 5

5) Joe Maddon – The manager has to take some blame during a losing streak.

4) Power Hitters – Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Pat Burrell, and Ben Zobrist have hit a combined 4 homeruns and 13 RBI’s since the June 23rd home-stand against the Phillies started. That isn’t a scary trip through the 3, 4, 5, and 6 hitters in the Rays’ lineup. During the Texas series, these hitters had 0 homeruns and 1 RBI. The Rays got swept.

3) Dioner Navarro – Last year Navi was an all-star. This year, it looks like TFC is trying to play himself out of the everyday lineup.

2) Jim Hickey – The pitching coach really needs to get his starting rotation under control.

1) The Starting Rotation – Scott Kazmir is the only one of the starters to hold his opponents to under 3 earned runs, and that includes Jeff Niemman in a relief appearance. The difference between the 2008 Rays and the 2009 Rays is the starting rotation.

That is how I rank the Rays. Feel free to comment as to who should be higher, who should be lower, or who was left off that should be ranked. These are just one man’s rankings, they aren’t rocket science.

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