To create an All-Decade team for the Tampa Bay Rays, we have to look back at how the seasons panned out. Just like most teams, 2010-2019 brought many peaks and valleys.
The first four seasons ended with four straight 90+ win seasons and three trips to the playoffs. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t make it past the division round in any of them.
The middle of the decade wasn’t pretty with four straight seasons resulting in below .500 baseball. The rebuild stemmed from the departure of Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman following the 2014 season. The Rays would hire a first-time manager and Tampa native Kevin Cash and the rebuild was up and running.
In the 2018 season was where things would turn back around. Despite selling at the deadline, the Rays managed to rally for a 90 win season. That momentum would carry over into 2019 which brought them a wild card banner and an ending to a six-year playoff drought. They would, however, be defeated in the division series yet again, this time to the controversial Houston Astros.
Which brings us to the All-Decade team. This roster was created from Rays players that had the best season for the team. A great stretch of seasons was also taken into account because certain players shouldn’t be left off for the consistency they brought.
Here is the Tampa Bay Rays 25 man roster for the 2010-2019 decade.
Starting Pitcher: David Price (2012)
What can you say about the best pitcher to wear a Rays uniform? David Price was drafted number one overall and quickly showed everyone why. From 2010 to 2014, he would be selected four times to the mid-summer classic. In 2012, he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA and received his first and only Cy Young award. He finished 2nd in 2010. In 2014 he recorded a league-leading 271 punch outs. He was traded at the deadline that year to the Detroit Tigers. A sad sight as the Rays saw one their best farm-raised talents leave in his prime. Price was traded in his age 28 season and has continued to be one of the best southpaws in the league.
Relief Pitcher: Fernando Rodney (2012)
There were a few good options to choose from but the 2012 season that Fernando Rodney put up was one for the record books. He saved 48 games but it was his ERA that had everyone talking. His ERA that year was a jaw-dropping 0.60! In 76 appearances, he gave up FIVE earned runs. His fastball/changeup combination had hitters continuously guessing wrong. With those two pitches, he can continue shooting the arrow into the air on this All-Decade team.
Catcher: Wilson Ramos (2018)
The Rays have never had the best luck with catchers and that was the case for most of the decade. That was until they took a chance on an injured all-star in Wilson Ramos. Despite missing the first half of 2017 and being traded at the 2018 deadline, Ramos put together a powerful combined season. In 2018 Ramos hit nearly .300 with 14 homers before being sent to the Philadelphia Phillies at the trade deadline. If you combine his two half seasons, he would have hit 25 homers and drove in over 80 runs. A very solid season for a catcher. He was selected to the All-Star game but didn’t participate due to injury.
First Base: Logan Morrison (2017)
Besides Carlos Pena, none of the first baseman that the Rays brought in were able to provide any thump at such a premium position. That was until they brought in Logan Morrison. Signed in 2016, Morrison struggled. He didn’t hit his first homer until the end of May. Despite his slow start, his 2016 campaign showed enough promise where the Rays brought him back in 2017. Boy were they glad they did.
He quickly ended all talks about a platoon. He went on to have a career season in nearly every offensive category including homers (38) and RBI (85). For a team that didn’t hit the long ball, 38 homers were a very welcome sight. Fun fact, on the road, he homered one in just under 10 at-bats. Good enough for 9th in American League history.
Second Base: Ben Zobrist (2011)
Pinning Ben Zobrist to a specific position just feels wrong as his versatility is what made his career such a good one. This being said, second base was his most consistent position with the Rays. He had several great seasons but 2011 saw his wins above replacement (WAR) reach a team high 7.6. This high WAR was due to him leading the team in runs scored (99), doubles (46), and hits (158).
Zobrist was an all around great baseball player. He was a switch hitter who played multiple positions. He ran the bases well and just did everything the right way. Many Rays fans consider him a fan favorite so seeing him land on the all-decade team will put a smile on their faces.
Shortstop: Brad Miller (2016)
This one may come as a surprise to many but it’s simply too hard to ignore a 30 home run season. Even though 2016 was the only real season Brad Miller was an actual star, it’s good enough to get him on the all-decade roster.
Miller came to the Rays as a decent leadoff hitter who could provide some power on occasion. Little did they know that in 2016 he would provide 65 extra base hits including 30 long balls. This year saw him hit career highs in nearly every offensive category. The Rays saw nine different players start opening day at shortstop in this decade but no one’s season can rival Brad Miller’s 2016.
Third Base: Evan Longoria (2016)
Not only was Evan Longoria the best third baseman for the Rays, but he was one of the best at the position in the entire league. He was Mr. Reliable, especially during his last five seasons where he only missed a total of 12 games. One thing Rays fans could bet on was the fact that Longoria was playing 3rd and hitting in the middle of the lineup day in and day out.
Choosing Longoria for the position was easy, but deciding his best season was a different story. His offensive and defensive numbers were consistent across the board. His power though really showed up in 2016. He hit career highs in homers (36) and total hits (173). He drove the ball to all fields and became the scare factor many thought he could be.
Back in 2011, he gave us all one of the greatest moments in baseball history. Game 162 is a simple saying Rays fans say and it still brings back chills. Just minutes after the Red Sox blew their lead, Longoria roped a walk-off homer down the left field line to complete a seven-run deficit against the New York Yankees. His hands in the air as he approaches first base is a mental picture that should never be deleted.
Left Field: Carl Crawford (2010)
Another one of the Rays best players in franchise history was Carl Crawford. Crawford, unfortunately, would become a free agent after 2010 and sign a massive contract with the Boston Red Sox. This came well deserved after his 2010 All-Star season which saw career highs in homers and runs batted in. His true skill was his speed which scored him 47 stolen bases as well as a league leading 13 triples. He was a blur out of the box and a terror on the base paths. The way he would make fans rise up out of their seat when he laced a ball in the gap was simply unforgettable.
Center Field: Melvin (BJ) Upton Jr (2012)
Maybe one of the most underrated players of the short Rays franchise is Melvin Upton Jr. Melvin, known as BJ in his Ray’s days, was a highly touted player who made his debut at the ripe age of 19. After struggling in the infield, the Rays eventually moved him to center field. His athleticism, speed, and arm strength really propelled him as a defender.
2010-2012 saw his offensive numbers average over 20 homers and 35 stolen bags. 2012 was his best power year with a career high 28 homers. His power/speed combination was fun to watch in a Rays uniform.
Right Field: Austin Meadows (2019)
Austin Meadows had himself a tremendous 2019 season. It started with a homer in his first at-bat and he didn’t stop there. He went on to hit a team leading 33 homers while batting .291. His scorching start got him his first all-star game appearance. If he continues to progress, not only will he be a regular at the summer classic but he very well could find his name on this same roster 10 years from now. With his advanced approach at the plate, and ability to hit for power and average, there’s no telling how high his ceiling could be.
Designated Hitter: CJ Cron (2018)
The Rays have always viewed DH as a rest day for an outfielder or a spot for a veteran to finish his career. 2018 was a different year at the position when they brought in right handed slugger CJ Cron. Cron would love hitting for the Rays as it was his best season in nearly every offensive categories including homers (30), hits (127), doubles (28) and runs scored (68). He was the thump any American League team would want at the DH and his 2018 was a good one for sure.
- Melvin Upton Jr
- Carl Crawford
- Evan Longoria
- Logan Morrison
- CJ Cron
- Austin Meadows
- Wilson Ramos
- Ben Zobrist
- Brad Miller
- C – Travis d’Arnaud (2019)
- SS/INF – Willy Adames (2019)
- OF/DH – Corey Dickerson (2017)
- OF – Kevin Kiermaier (2015)
- David Price (2012)
- Blake Snell (2018)
- Chris Archer (2015)
- Charlie Morton (2019)
- James Shields (2011)
- Alex Cobb (2013)
- Matt Moore (2013)
- Ryan Yarbrough (2018)
- Jake Mcgee (2014)
- Alex Colome (2016)
- Rafael Soriano (2010)
- Fernando Rodney (2012)
The 2010-2019 decade saw a lot of fun baseball played by a team with low expectations. Competing in arguably the toughest division with one of the lowest payrolls, the Rays showed that heart and chemistry can go a long way. With momentum and youth on their side, the Rays will be on the hunt for their first World Series trophy in franchise history.
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