The Tampa Bay Rays are having a stellar 2021 season.
Entering the year, expectations were high, but the team has somehow exceeded them.
The Rays recently became the first team in the American League to 80 wins, and there’s a solid argument to be made that this is the best team in baseball.
The Tampa Bay Rays quietly have 80 wins and the best record in the AL.
Rays keep doing Rays things.
— DataBase Hit (@DatabaseHit) August 28, 2021
From bullpen depth to lineup depth, the amount of sheer talent on the roster, and the way the team has performed against elite competition, this isn’t a team that anyone is going to want to play in the postseason.
Don’t let the Rays fly under the radar.
3. They’re 44-34 Against Teams With Winning Records
For many playoff teams, the formula to a winning record looks something like this:
- Stay afloat when playing difficult opponents (i.e. go .500 or so against teams with winning records)
- Take care of business against poor opponents (i.e. finish 20 games or so above .500 against teams with losing records)
When it comes to the Rays, they have no trouble at all against elite teams.
Their 44-34 record against teams with winning records is the second-best mark in all of baseball.
The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers—who are often regarded as the two best teams in the league—rank behind the Rays in this category.
2. The Lineup Has No Glaring Weaknesses
Offensive production is not a concern for the Rays.
They post an average of 5.35 runs per game.
They’re tied with the Houston Astros for the MLB lead in that category.
Tampa Bay simply has an endless supply of productive hitters.
Among players who have appeared in at least 60 games, the Rays have a whopping 11 guys with an OPS+ of 100 or better.
In other words, the team has 11 hitters that are producing at league average or better.
That’s exceptionally rare.
Many teams have just two or three such players.
1. The Bullpen Is Absurdly Deep
Tampa Bay’s bullpen is loaded with quality arms.
It features the likes of Andrew Kittredge (1.32 ERA, 0.90 WHIP), Pete Fairbanks (3.48 ERA), Collin McHugh (1.40 ERA), Ryan Thompson (2.38 ERA/injured list), Matt Wisler (1.98 ERA/injured list), J.P. Feyereisen (2.42 ERA/injured list), Drew Rasmussen (3.09 ERA), and several others.
Needless to say, bullpen depth is not a concern whatsoever.
In the postseason, you can never have enough relief pitching.
This bodes extremely well for Tampa Bay’s title chances.
This team is just so good man. Capitalise on any mistakes from the pitchers late and the bullpen is just elite. Hard to lose with that combo, 25 games over .500 #Rays
— Jordan J MacGeever (@j_macgeever) August 11, 2021
The bullpen unit has a league-best 3.18 ERA on the year.
It’s just another reason why the Rays are in fantastic shape.
At the end of the day, nothing seems to go as planned in baseball, so Rays fans shouldn’t go booking dates for the World Series just yet.
However, there’s a very good chance that Tampa Bay will be representing the American League in the Fall Classic.
The Rays will surely be tested along the way, but they’re going to be an extremely tough out.
This team might just have what it takes to go all the way.
Time will tell, and in the meantime, Tampa Bay fans should just enjoy the ride.NEXT: Nelson Cruz Contract: What Would A New Deal Look Like?