The Tampa Bay Rays continue to fascinate all of baseball by opening up a lead In the AL East on the mighty BoSox and the perennially powerful New York Yankees.
Statistically the Rays are very good but there overall stats don’t add up to a 55-33 record. They only lead in one category and that is in stolen bases. The importance of stolen bases is a source of much discussion in the saber metrics community.
The Rays OBP is .342. That is good enough for sixth in MLB. The Red Sox are in second place with .354. The Rays are tied for eighth in runs scored 33 runs behind the Red Sox who are in third.
Maybe it’s the pitching? OK let’s take a look see. OK they are third in ERA at 3.57. Far ahead of the vaunted Sawx pitching that is seventh at 3.84. The Yankee pitching staff is far back at 4.19. The Rays are also in a virtual three way tie in WHIP. However the rays are in 12th in K’s far behind Boston and they are being edged out by the Yankees in this stat.
So is it pitching, speed and defense that is the difference? Hmm… could be. Will it keep up? I tend to doubt it. The Rays play at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, a park built for pitching and speed. The stadium is the second worst hitters park in baseball, with a park factor of .780. At home the Rays are 22 games over .500 on the road they are a mere .500 team.
The Rays have played 50 games at home and only 38 on the road. Those guys at HQ know how to bring early season excitement to the MLB! Way to go Bud!
So in the end the Rays will finish third and they may never get a new park.
But maybe I am wrong…