Tampa Bay Rays
All-Time Team – Tampa Bay Rays
First Base – Carlos Pena
Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in home runs with a total of 144 to his credit, Carlos Pena established himself as a top slugger during his four years with the Rays. Pena averaged 36 homers for the team from 2007 to 2010, while also averaging 102 runs batted in per-season. Pena had his biggest year in 2007, when he hit 46 home runs, knocked in 121 runs, scored 99 others, and batted .282, en route to earning his first of two ninth-place finishes in the league MVP voting. The left-handed slugger hit 39 homers two years later, to tie for the American League lead.
Second Base – Akinori Iwamura
Akinori Iwamura spent three years with the Rays, during which time he established himself as one of the American League’s better second basemen. He scored a total of 173 runs for the team his first two seasons, while posting batting averages of .285 and .274 and doing a solid defensive job in the field.
Third Base – Evan Longoria
One of baseball’s brightest young stars, Evan Longoria burst upon the scene in 2008, capturing A.L. Rookie of the Year honors by batting .272, hitting 27 home runs, and driving in 85 runs in only 122 games with the Rays. He continued his hot hitting during the postseason by blasting six home runs and knocking in 11 runs, in helping Tampa Bay capture the A.L. pennant. Although he subsequently struggled against Philadelphia during the World Series, Longoria didn’t allow his poor play to affect his performance the following year. The third baseman earned All-Star honors for the second straight time by finishing among the league leaders with 33 home runs and 113 runs batted in, while also scoring 100 runs, batting .281, and winning the first of two consecutive Gold Gloves. Longoria earned a sixth-place finish in the A.L. MVP voting in 2010 by hitting 22 homers, driving in 104 runs, scoring 96 others, and batting .294.
Shortstop – Julio Lugo
Although Julio Lugo spent parts of only four seasons in Tampa Bay, he did enough during that time to earn the starting shortstop job on our team. Lugo hit 40 home runs, knocked in 212 runs, scored 283 others, and batted .287 during that time, while leading all players at his position in putouts in one of those seasons.
Left Field – Carl Crawford
Carl Crawford will be taking his considerable talents to Boston in 2011. Previously, though, he established himself as probably the finest player in Tampa Bay’s brief history. Blessed with exceptional running speed, Crawford stole more than 40 bases in seven of his eight full seasons with the Rays, leading the league in thefts on four separate occasions, with totals of 55, 59, 58, and 50. The left-fielder’s great speed also enabled him to finish in double-digits in triples five times, topping the circuit in that category four times as well. More than just a speedster, Crawford is also an outstanding hitter and a fine outfielder. He batted over .300 five times for the Rays, surpassed 15 homers four times, knocked in more than 80 runs three times, and scored more than 100 runs three times, all while playing a Gold Glove caliber left field.
Center Field – B.J. Upton
Although his attitude has come into question at times, B.J. Upton’s talent is undeniable. He has home-run power, outstanding speed, and the ability to play center field with almost anyone in the league. Upton had his best year in 2007, when he hit 24 homers, knocked in 82 runs, scored 86 others, batted .300, and stole 22 bases. His offensive numbers have tailed off somewhat the past three seasons, but he has nonetheless managed to surpass 40 steals each year while also topping 85 runs scored twice.
Right Field – Aubrey Huff
Originally an infielder, Aubrey Huff played several different positions for the Rays from 2000 to 2006. Wherever the team placed him in the field, though, Huff did an outstanding job at the plate. He had his two best years in 2003 and 2004, combining for 63 home runs, 211 runs batted in, and 183 runs scored, while posting batting averages of .311 and .297, respectively. Over the course of his seven seasons in Tampa Bay, Huff hit 128 home runs and knocked in 449 runs.
Catcher - John Flaherty
Although known more for his defense and for his ability to handle a pitching staff, John Flaherty had the best offensive season of any Tampa Bay catcher when he hit 14 home runs, knocked in 71 runs, and batted .278 for the team in 1999.
Designated Hitter - Fred McGriff
Fred McGriff spent parts of five seasons with the Rays, serving as a regular member of the team’s starting lineup from 1998 to 2000. McGriff hit a total of 78 home runs over the course of those three seasons, while also driving in a total of 291 runs. He had his best year for the team in 1999, when he hit 32 homers, knocked in 104 runs, batted .310, and posted a .405 on-base percentage.
Starting Pitcher – Scott Kazmir
Scott Kazmir first joined the Rays late in 2004, and he remained with the team the next five years, before being dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the latter stages of the 2009 campaign. The hard-throwing left-hander had four solid years for the Rays, finishing in double-digits in victories each season from 2005 to 2008. He had arguably his finest season in 2007, when he finished 13-9, with a 3.48 ERA and a league-leading 239 strikeouts. Kazmir made the All-Star Team twice as a member of the Rays.
Starting Pitcher – James Shields
A member of the Rays since 2006, James Shields has won at least 11 games in each of his four seasons as a regular member of the team’s starting rotation. The right-hander had his best year in 2008, when he compiled a record of 14-8, along with a 3.56 ERA.
Starting Pitcher – Matt Garza
A strong 2010 campaign in which he posted a record of 15-10 established Matt Garza as one of the American League’s better young pitchers. In three full seasons with the Rays, the right-hander compiled an overall record of 34-31, along with a 3.86 ERA.
Starting Pitcher – David Price
Although he has been a member of Tampa Bay’s starting staff for only one full season, David Price has the ability to become easily the finest pitcher in franchise history. After excelling for the team out of the bullpen during the latter stages of the 2008 campaign, Price had a somewhat mediocre rookie season the following year. However, he developed into one of the American League’s top hurlers in 2010, when he finished 19-6, with a 2.72 ERA and 188 strikeouts, en route to earning a second-place finish in the Cy Young balloting.
Closer – Rafael Soriano
Soriano spent only one year in Tampa, but he performed brilliantly during that one season. The hard-throwing right-hander led the American League with 45 saves, compiled an ERA of 1.73, and struck out 57 batters in 62 innings of work, while allowing the opposition only 36 hits.
Manager – Joe Maddon
Joe Maddon took over a floundering Tampa Bay franchise prior to the start of the 2006 campaign. Although the Rays continued to struggle over the course of the next two seasons, winning a total of only 127 games, Maddon gradually instilled in his young squad a winning attitude and a strong sense of pride. Tampa Bay eventually righted the ship under Maddon, posting a franchise-record 97 victories in his third year at the helm, en route to capturing the A.L. pennant. The Rays have finished well over .500 in each of the past two seasons as well, winning the A.L. East title again in 2010, with a record of 96-66.
- Tampa Bay Rays
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