Tampa Bay Rays



Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays.svg

Team Strengths: While the "opener” earned headlines, the Rays' outfield was actually their strongest position group. Tampa Bay had the sixth-best outfield in MLB, as measured by Baseball-Reference’s runs above-average, with Tommy Pham and a healthy Kevin Kiermaier making much of the impact. While Mallex Smith is gone, Austin Meadows should step in and drastically improve right field, the one weak link in the Rays’ outfield a year ago.
Team Weaknesses: The Rays finished 27th in the majors in home runs, then let leading home run hitter C.J. Cron go and traded second-leading returning home run hitter Jake Bauers. Developing power has long been a problem for the Rays' organization. Their last homegrown player to hit more than 20 home runs in a season was Evan Longoria, who was drafted in 2006.
What They Did About It: The Rays will rely on full seasons from Pham, Meadows and Willy Adames to supply power, while offseason acquisition Mike Zunino is coming off back-to-back 20-home run seasons and Avisail Garcia hit 19 a year ago. Rising prospect Nate Lowe has a clear path to either the first base or DH jobs, currently occupied by Yandy Diaz and Ji-Man Choi, and possesses the thump to give the Rays their first homegrown 20-home run hitter since Longoria.
Final Outlook: The Rays again have the pitching depth to replicate their success with the "opener.” Even so, Pham, Meadows and the rest need to live up to their offensive potential for 90 wins to happen again.

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