Tampa Bay Rays All-Time Tournament Team

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The Tampa Bay Rays have seen their fair share of great players in their 24-year franchise history. For their history, they have been classified as having two different reputations. Firstly, they are seen as a small market team that does not spend much on team payroll. This means that not many big free agents sign with Tampa Bay as opposed to other markets.

The other reputation is of being frugal and efficient with signing players. The Rays as an organization are heavily reliant on analytics and are leaders around the league. Through this, the Rays have become a contender in the American League East and even reached the World Series in 2020.  For both of those reasons, players are rarely in Tampa Bay for a long time. Players are generally there for a few years or there for the duration of time ahead of their free agency.

When it comes to selecting an All-time team, I have selected one player from each defensive position. I have also included one starting pitcher, two relief pitchers, and two honorable mentions. Also on this list would be the Rays all-time Manager Joe Maddon. These players are a combination of fan favorites and those who have had career years in Central Florida.

Manager – Joe Maddon

In nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon is the all-time winningest manager with 754 wins. He was seen as a player’s manager who tried to defy the norm of the player-manager relationship. Maddon’s managerial style is based on keeping to the fundamentals while being a great mentor to young players. What sets him apart from other managers is his personality and off-field practices. While with the Rays, Maddon would theme road trips. In 2010, he had players of the Rays dress up in hockey jerseys as they headed to Toronto during the Stanley Cup Final. Other themes include dressing up as a Cowboys on a trip to Colorado or having an American Legion Week where players have no practice before a game. Joe Maddon was someone who kept the Rays fun, and that’s why he is managing this talented group of players.

Catcher – Toby Hall 

Toby Hall played in seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. While with the Rays, Hall hit .262/.298/.392 with 44 home runs and 251 RBI. This decision was a toss-up between Toby Hall and Dioner Navarro. Ultimately, Hall was selected as he had better defensive numbers and was a longer-tenured member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

First Base – Carlos Pena 

Carlos Pena played 14 seasons in the Major Leagues, and five were with the Tampa Bay Rays. His notable accomplishments include a 2007 Silver Slugger, 2008 Gold Glove, and 2009 All-Star selection. Other notable statistics include; leading Major League Baseball in Home Runs in 2009 with 39, leading the American League in at-bats / home runs twice, and fielding percentage at first base in 2008. The decision for selecting the first baseman came down to Pena and Fred McGriff. Ultimately, Pena is at first for his defensive prowess. 

Second Base – Ben Zobrist 

Ben Zobrist is one of the first players that usually come to mind when you think of the Tampa Bay Rays. In his nine seasons with the Rays, Zobrist hit .264/.354/.429 with 114 home runs and 511 RBI. Zobrist was a part of Tampa Bay’s first four playoff teams in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2013. Although he is a utility player, he has played the most games at second base.  

Third Base – Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria is perhaps the most obvious choice for this all-time team. Having been drafted by the Rays third overall in 2006, Longoria was a member of the Rays organization until December 2017. During his ten years with Tampa Bay, Longoria became a three-time All-star, three-time Gold Glove winner, 2008 American League Rookie of the Year, and a 2009 Silver Slugger. Currently, Longoria leads MLB third basemen in games started, putouts, double plays turned, and assists. Ultimately, his time in Tampa Bay is remembered fondly among fans. 

Shortstop – Julio Lugo

For 12 years, Julio Lugo was a great shortstop, but he was at his best in Tampa Bay. In 505 games with the Devil Rays, Lugo hit .287/.350/.421 with 40 home runs and 212 RBI. Lugo is a contact hitter, as he was in the top-ten for doubles in the American League with 41. Lugo has great defensive skills, as he led American League shortstops in putouts (2005), Range Factor/ nine innings (2005), and Range Factor / Game in 2003 and 2005. 

Designated Hitter- Fred McGriff

During his 19 year career, Fred McGriff spent time with six different Major League teams. McGriff signed with the Rays ahead of their inaugural season. As a native of Tampa Bay, he was excited to play in his hometown. In his five years with the Devil Rays, McGriff hit .291/.380/.484 with 99 home runs and 359 RBI. After being traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2001, McGriff finished his career with Tampa in 2004. 

Left Field – Carl Crawford 

It is hard to put together a list of all-time Rays players without selecting Carl Crawford. During his nine seasons with Tampa Bay; Crawford was a four-time All-Star, 2010 Gold Glove, and a 2010 Silver Slugger. What sets Crawford apart from other players on this list is his speed. During his time with Tampa, he led the Majors in stolen bases in four different years. On top of that, he led the American League in triples in four seasons. Crawford could be argued as one of Tampa’s first stars, as he helped Tampa turn into a contender in the late 2000’s. 

Center Field – Kevin Kiermaier

Since the Tampa Bay Rays have been World Series contenders in the past few years, it is only fitting to have a current player make the team. Currently, Kevin Kiermaier has played nine seasons with the Rays. In those nine seasons, Kiermaier is a three-time Gold Glove Award winner. He was also awarded the Platinum Glove winner in 2015 as the best defensive player in the American League. Kiermaier is one of the better defensive outfielders in the league, and he is only getting better. Offensively, Kiermaier is .249/.310/.410 with 75 home runs and 294 RBI. His defensive expertise paired with Crawford’s speed makes this a formidable outfield. 

Right Field – Rocco Baldelli

The last position in the outfield would be a difficult one, but it ultimately goes to Rocco Baldelli. In his seven seasons with Tampa Bay, he hit .280/.324/.444 with 53 home runs and 239 RBI. Like Kevin Kiermaier, Baldelli was a better defensive player, as he led the American League twice in outfield assists and double plays turned by a center fielder. Baldelli has a high baseball IQ and can see the game where most fans can’t. Currently, he is the manager for the Minnesota Twins and has helped turn them into an American League contender. A lot of this knowledge came while playing with the Rays.

Starting Pitcher -David Price

Selected with the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, David Price fared well for the Tampa Bay Rays. In seven seasons with Tampa, Price was a four-time All-Star and the 2012 American League Cy Young Award Winner. While with Tampa Bay, Price was a workhorse leading the American League in starts and innings pitched twice respectfully. Other notable achievements include leading the AL in strikeouts with 271 in 2014 and ERA in 2012 with 2.56. Although the Rays have seen their fair share of great pitchers, none have shined brighter than David Price. 

Relief Pitchers 

Roberto Hernandez 

Although he was only with the Rays for three seasons, it would be hard to leave Roberto Hernandez off this list. During his time with the Rays, he had a 3.43 ERA in 218 innings pitched with 185 strikeouts. The Rays utilized Hernandez 207 times in three seasons and he helped eat a lot of innings. His best season with Tampa came in 1999 when he pitched in 72 games, finished 66 of them, was an American League All-Star, and finished in the top-ten in Cy Young voting as a reliever. 

Danys Baez

Like Hernandez, Danys Baez was not in Tampa Bay for long either. During his two seasons with the Rays, he had a 3.21 ERA in 140 1/3 innings pitched in 129 games. Baez’s best numbers came with Tampa Bay, and no year was better than 2005. During 2005, Baez had 41 saves in 67 appearances, a 2.86 ERA, and was named to the American League All-Star team (his only career All-Star appearance). 

Honorable Mentions 

Blake Snell 

It would hard to list an All-Time team list without mentioning Blake Snell. In five seasons with the Rays, Snell had a 3.24 ERA in 556 innings pitched including 648 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.237. Snell also won the 2018 American League Cy Young Award leading the American League with an ERA of 1.89, wins with 21, hits per nine with 5.6, and ERA+ with 217. The left-hander predominantly throws his four-seam fastball but keeps batters guessing with the slider and curveball all thrown faster than most pitchers. With Snell’s power and velocity, he makes a great addition to this roster. 

BJ Upton

One of the early fan favorites in this organization, BJ Upton played with the Rays for eight seasons. During his tenure, he hit .255/.336/.422 with 118 home runs and 447 RBI. Upton was a defensive player leading the American League twice in outfield assists and double plays as a center fielder. Originally the second overall pick of the 2002 MLB draft, he remained with the Rays organization until he was granted free agency after the 2012 season.

See the All-Time Team Tournament Headquarters here.

Main Photo:
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Players/Managers Mentioned:

Toby HallDioner Navarro, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, Julio Lugo, Fred McGriff, Carl Crawford, Kevin Kiermaier, Rocco Baldelli, David Price, Roberto Hernandez, Danys Baez, Blake Snell, BJ Upton, Joe Maddon