Top Ten Tampa Bay Rays Players of the Decade
For a franchise that has managed one postseason trip in their 12 year history, the Tampa Bay Rays (formerly known as the Devil Rays) do not possess an all time roster filled with Hall of Famers.
However, during the last decade, the Rays have definitely fielded some talented players that deserve recognition for being among the best the franchise has had to offer.
While many players deserved consideration for this list. I feel these ten players were the best of the last ten years.
10. Jason Bartlett, Shortstop, 2008-Present
Considered a throw-in pick in the Matt Garza-Delmon Young deal, Bartlett became a huge part of the 2008 AL Pennant winning team, stabilizing the interior of the Rays defense and helping them finish as one of the top defensive teams in the American League.
Bartlett found his bat in 2009, setting career highs for batting average (.320), home runs (14), and RBI (66)
9. Rocco Baldelli, Outfielder, 2003-08
The 6th overall pick by the Rays in the 2000 amateur draft rose quickly to the Major League ranks, joining the team in 2003.
Baldelli is in the top ten in team history for batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, doubles, triples, and runs batted in.
Baldelli's promising career was derailed with a rare muscular disease that robbed him of the 2005 season.
8. Matt Garza, Starting Pitcher, 2006-Present
Matt Garza was the centerpiece of the trade for Rays prospect Delmon Young. Garza struggled through the regular season, getting into arguments with teammates.
When the 2008 postseason rolled around, Garza turned into a different pitcher, dominating and enabling the Rays to breeze through the first round and won two games in the ALCS, including a sparkling performance in Game 7.
Garza was the ALCS MVP and put together a pretty good follow up season.
7. Carlos Pena, First Base, 2007-Present
Since joining the Rays in 2007, Carlos Pena has been one of the team's best run producers, setting the team record for Home Runs (46) while hitting 30-plus homers and 100 plus RBIs in three straight seasons.
Pena has also been terrific in the field, winning a gold glove in 2008.
6. Victor Zambrano, Starting Pitcher, 2001-04
Victor Zambrano ended up being traded for Scott Kazmir, but before that he was one of the few bright spots on the Rays rotation.
Zam still has the best winning percentage among starters with at least 50 starts in Tampa Bay and is third all-time in wins.
5. Fred McGriff, First Base, 1998-2000, 2004
While technically, the majority of his career with Tampa Bay occurred in the late 1990's, the "Crime Dog" did finish up his career here with the Rays in 2004 and before being traded in 2001, put up 27 home runs and 108 RBI in his final full season in Tampa Bay.
McGriff could very well be the second player that wore a Tampa Bay Devil Ray uniform to enter the hall of fame.
4. Scott Kazmir, Starting Pitcher, 2004-09
Scott Kazmir was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Victor Zambrano to the Mets.
Kazmir delivered for Tampa Bay, earning two all-star appearances and leading the American League in 2007 in strike outs.
Injuries hurt his effectiveness in 2008 and in 2009 he would be traded.
3. Evan Longoria, 3rd Baseman, 2008-Present
Since joining the Rays in 2008, Tampa Bay had its first bonafide superstar in franchise history.
All Longoria has done is blast home runs at an alarming rate while providing gold glove defense in the field.
Longoria was the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year, is already a two-time all-star, a gold glove winner and won the Silver Slugger award for 3rd base.
If he continues to put up these numbers, Longoria could be the first Ray to enter the Hall of Fame (as a Ray).
2. Aubrey Huff, Third Base, 2000-06
Often one of the few brights spots on some terrible Tampa Bay teams, Aubrey Huff continues to be among team leaders in career batting average, home runs, triples, runs batted in, and a myriad of other offensive categories.
One of the Rays few legitimate threats in the first half of the 2000's, Huff's numbers make him one of the decade's best.
1. Carl Crawford, Outfielder, 2004-Present
It's no coincidence this lifetime Ray is in the #1 slot of our list. Carl Crawford leads the team in All-Star appearances (three), he won the 2009 All-star game MVP, and has been among league leaders in stolen bases in six of his eight seasons in Tampa Bay.
Crawford is tops in many Ray statistics including career batting average and stolen bases.
He is the complete player, solid in the outfield, power, speed, hits for average, he's without question the best player of the decade.