I swear, the Tampa Bay Rays are the Rodney Dangerfield of Major League Baseball — they get no respect. And I don’t get it. I just don’t. What do the Rays have to do in order to earn some praise for what they’ve done? Win an AL pennant? Nope, not good enough. MLB gave the Rays just an 18.6 percent chance to make the playoffs in 2021 — the fourth best odds in the AL East. Win 11 games in a row, all the while accruing the best record in the American League? That deserves a ton of praise, but it’s still only good enough to rank them eighth in the latest MLB Power Rankings.
Power Rankings are a weird concept, right? On the surface, they’re meant to be a ranking of every team based on how good they can be in their current state. If a star pitcher gets hurt, his team falls. If a star pitcher returns from injury, his team rises. If Mike Trout heads to the injury list, his team... stays right where they were because the Angels can’t seem to do well even when Trout is healthy. You get the point. Power Rankings are supposed to take into account a team’s roster, injuries, current record, and past performances to determine who is the best of the best. In reality, all Power Rankings really do is cause uproar and debate. It’s impossible to accurately rank teams because of how little some teams play against one another and the circumstances each team is facing at any given moment. They are meant to stir up angry Twitter comment sections and debate among fanbases, and that’s exactly what MLB’s most recent rankings do.
Their rankings are inconsistent. If the Rays are 8th, why on Earth are the Giants ranked 5th? The Giants have a slew of injuries to their starting staff, a mediocre offense, and haven’t been a threat in the NL West since 2016. Why do they have a better case for the top-5 than Tampa? Is it because they’re in a more difficult division? That’s funny, because those same rankings have the Red Sox at two and the Yankees at seven.
Not to mention, when MLB posted these rankings, the Rays were on a 10-game win streak (now 11). If Power Rankings are supposed to determine the most dangerous teams at any specific time, why wouldn’t the Rays be up with the Dodgers and Padres, who each had similarly long streaks heading into week 8 of the MLB season? All three of those teams were within one game of each other on Sunday.
It’s a tragedy really. Kevin Cash — along with some help from Kyle Snyder and Stan Boroski — has managed his team with ingenuity. His philosophy on pitching involving openers and secondary starters and players like Sergio Romo starting games in 2018 has become a model that other teams have considered mirroring, but no other team has been able to get right. They’ve reinvigorated the careers of guys like Romo, Rich Hill, Ryan Yarborough, and many others. Yet, despite all his success, he’s best remembered for his biggest blunder — pulling Blake Snell in Game 6 of the 2020 World Series.
Maybe that’s why they’re consistently ranked so low. After winning 40 of 60 games and taking down both the Astros and Yankees, the Rays still became known as the team that couldn’t close it out. They couldn’t possibly be better than the Yankees or Astros because it was just a fluke 60-game season. Well, we’re almost 50 games into the 2021 season. Combined with the 2020 COVID season, that’s almost three-quarters of a normal season. The Rays lost their former Cy Young award winner Blake Snell and former Cy Young award candidate Charlie Morton prior to this season, and they’re still on top. If that doesn’t speak volumes, I don’t know what does.
Put some respect on them Rays!