The Rays were the best team early in the season, and they stumbled out of first place into third. However, via a sweep of the Red Sox, the Rays are back comfortably in second place.
How'd that happen? Here are the grades for the players of the Rays in the first half of 2010.
John Jaso: B
Stats: .274 avg, 3 HR, 29 RBI, .771 OPS, 3 SB
With former All-Star Dioner Navarro struggling his way down to the minors, Jaso stepped up and is having a pretty impressive rookie season. He is also a beast with runners in scoring position. His caught stealing (28.6%) percentage could be better.
Kelly Shoppach: C-
Stats: .200 avg, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .657 OPS
Shoppach is a pretty mediocre backup catcher. With Navarro's contract, we might see him back in the backup catching duties.
Carlos Pena: D
Stats: .203 avg, 18 HR, 54 RBI, .737 OPS, 3 SB
Pena has been batting around the .200 mark the entire year. That's not something you want from your big bopper. Even though he's got a lot of RBI. His defense has also declined.
Sean Rodriguez: C+
Stats: .265 avg, 6 HR, 30 RBI, .726 OPS, 7 SB
Sean Rodriguez has been one of the big three rookies for the Rays. He plays pretty good defense at second and comes up with big hits when needed.
Jason Bartlett: D
Stats: .231 avg, 2 HR, 33 RBI, .649 OPS, 4 SB
Bartlett has been a huge disappointment after his exceptional 2009 season. His numbers are down all across the board and even his defense has been subpar.
Reid Brignac: C+
Stats: .265 avg, 2 HR, 25 RBI, .694 OPS, 2 SB
Brignac's defense isn't that great, but he's the last part in the trio of Rays rookies that have a lot of potential.
Evan Longoria: A
Stats: .300 avg, 13 HR, 61 RBI, .895 OPS, 13 SB
After Longoria had a terrible June, he has regained his stroke. Evan can run, field, and hit. He's got to cut down on his errors, though.
Carl Crawford: A+
Stats: .321 avg, 11 HR, 50 RBI, .901 OPS, 31 SB
Wow, this guy is going to make a lot of money during free agency. He's arguably the best fielder in baseball. He can run really well. And he can hit for power and average. He and Longoria have of course been the vital pieces to the Rays success.
Matt Joyce: C-
Stats: .175 avg, 1 HR, 5 RBI, .690 OPS, 1 SB
Joyce has only played in 15 games, so this should really be an incomplete game. He's struggled, but in his limited time hit an important pinch hit grand slam.
BJ Upton: F+
Stats: .230 avg, 7 HR, 31 RBI, .715 OPS, 25 SB
Everybody talks about Upton's potential since his one magical year and one magical postseason. Will he ever deliver? He wrecks havoc on the bases and in the outfield, but has got to be more consistent.
Ben Zobrist: B
Stats: .285 avg, 5 HR, 41 RBI, .783 OPS, 19 RBI
Zobrist isn't having the monster season he had last year but he's still a consistent run producer and base stealer. Zobrist is also an underrated fielder and versatile player.
Gabe Kapler: D-
Stats: .221 avg, 1 HR, 12 RBI, .596 OPS, 1 SB
Kapler is supposed to dominate left-handed pitchers, but he's actually doing better against righties this year.
Willy Aybar: C+
Stats: .250 avg, 5 HR, 23 RBI, .695 OPS
Pat Burrell. Hank Blalock. Both failed as the designated hitter for the Rays, and now the DH spot belongs to Aybar. We'll see how it pans out with his everyday playing time.
James Shields: D
Stats: 7-9, 4.87 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 109 Ks, .282 BAA
Shields is supposed to be the ace of the staff but has been struggling mightily. He has pitched (1-5, 5.59) incredibly bad at home.
Matt Garza: C+
Stats: 10-5, 4.05 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 86 Ks, .253 BAA
Garza is having an inconsistent year. He started off scorching in April but his ERA was 6.83 in May.
Jeff Niemann: A
Stats: 7-2, 2.77 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 84 Ks, .220 BAA
Niemann is the most underrated player in baseball. He wasn't an All-Star or even considered an All-Star snub despite his tiny ERA and WHIP.
David Price: A+
Stats: 12-4, 2.42 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 100 Ks, .223 BAA
Price has been the best pitcher in the American League so far, leading two of the three pitching triple crown categories.
Wade Davis: D
Stats: 6-9, 4.69 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 62 Ks, .263 BAA
Everybody's favorite preseason Rookie of the Year choice has struggled so far. His WHIP is extremely high, he's been unreliable, and he doesn't last long into ballgames.
Rafael Soriano: A
Stats: 23/24 saves, 1.60 ERA, 0.80 WHIP
The Rays' biggest problem last year was the struggles of its bullpen. Soriano has been a godsend for the Rays, saving almost all of his opportunities.
Randy Choate: D
Stats: 5.96 ERA, 7 Holds, 1.10 WHIP
Choate has struggled all year, starting with a 10.50 ERA in April. If the Rays are to be successful, they'll need the 2009 version of Choate.
Joaquin Benoit: A
Stats: 0.65 ERA, 7 Holds, 0.51 WHIP
What an underrated pickup Benoit has been. After missing all of 2009, he's found a new life as a reliever in the Rays bullpen.
Dan Wheeler: B+
Stats: 3.18 ERA, 6 Holds, 1.09 WHIP
Wheeler has been a consistent right handed arm out of the bullpen. He gets himself into and out of a lot of jams.
Grant Balfour: A-
Stats: 2.15 ERA, 9 Holds, 1.09 WHIP
After a wretched 2009, it looks like Balfour is back. He has also only given up one longball this year.
Lance Cormier: C-
Stats: 4.37 ERA, 3 Holds, 1.86 WHIP
Cormier has walked more people than he has struck out and his WHIP is incredibly high. Another one of those inconsistent, irritating players.