We’ve crossed the one-quarter mark, and it’s high time that someone on this blog mentioned the Tampa Bay Rays. After 42 games, not only are they in first place in the AL East, but they have the best record in the American League.
Now I’m not going to say anything stupid like that this team is heading for the playoffs, but for the first time in franchise history, the Rays can actually say that they are relevant to the baseball landscape. They appear to be balancing pitching, hitting, and fielding: coming in fifth in runs scored, fifth in homeruns, fourth in ERA, and fourth in fielding percentage (all ranks refer to the AL).
Perhaps most significantly, the Ray have made Tampa Bay a tough place to play for opposing teams. They’ve posted a 16-8 record at home so far, including home sweeps of the Boston Red Sox and the Angels of Anaheim. Out of all the American League stadiums, who could’ve guessed that Tropicana Field would be the toughest place to play in the first quarter of the season?
As I said, I can’t imagine Tampa Bay breaking through to make the playoffs yet, but who knows? At the very least, this team will leave it’s mark on the postseason, possibly by playing the role of spoiler in the AL East. Now that this team isn’t a doormat anymore, it’s going to be tough for the wildcard to come out of their division.