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Coming to you from the Bottom of the Barrel: Tampa Bay Rays, 2017 Outlook

lionlambHi sports fans!  March is supposed to arrive like a lion and depart like a lamb.  Seriously?  Says who?  Groundhogs, lions, lambs, tigers, bears…  We need baseball.  Alas, the team in today’s column is going to be as lame as this spin on the arrival of March that  I found at yoganonymous.com.

#seriously?

deadpool-logan-206421-231769

source: comicbook.com

Today, I offer the first of three preseason team reviews.  For this one, I drew Tampa Bay.  This is a bummer. Glad I saw LOGAN last night. It’s definitely worth a visit.  Two thumbs up.  But, it is not a feel-good movie.  That’s a good thing.  After the dark story line of that movie, Tampa Bay’s prospects for 2017 don’t look so bad.  Seriously and spoiler alert:  Will Tampa Bay’s 2017 season be as apocalyptically bad as one that might lead to the death of the remaining old-school mutants?  I say “Nay, Nay.” All things considered, the season could be worse…crowds at Rays games could theoretically be smaller and the fans could be even worse than fair weather fans.  Anything is possible.

Really.  Deadpool could do a great job writing this column. tropicana-field-empty-seatsIn all seriousness, there is not much to look for in terms of fantasy rosters.  The Rays’ fair weather fans will get the mediocre team that they deserve.

RECAP: 2016

The Rays finished 2016 with a 68-94 record.  They were anemic at best.  Clearly, they need to do something about the team name.

devilraysNo, seriously.  From 1998-2007, the Tampa Bay DEVIL Rays finished fifth in the East every year except 2004.  They averaged a miserable 64-98 record and remained fodder for rescue dogs as they tended to fall some 34 games behind the division leader.  The official word on this was that ownership wanted to change the team’s identity, break with 10 years of crummy baseball…blah, blah, blah. This obviously was a big deal in Tampa: a whopping crowd of 7,000 showed up to celebrate the reincarnation/exorcism/whatever.

1024px-tampa_bay_rays-svgThen, they had some sort of come to Jesus moment and dropped the “Devil” from their name. Clearly, the gods were pleased. They went to the World Series in 2008 and averaged a second place finish for the next six years.  Alas, it is my humble duty to inform you, gentle reader, that the Rays’ stock has dropped.

AND THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS!  Don’t forget to tip your waiter, folks.

The team’s batting stats were lame.  They had power (216 HR).  But, they didn’t get on base much.  As a result, there were a lot of solo HR.

BA .243 28th
R 672 24th
HR 216 6th
OBP .307 27th
OPS .733 16th

 

Last year’s lineup manifested no speed and some durability issues as only 3 players played more than 140 games.  This was hardly the sort of lineup that put fear in the eyes of opposing pitchers. This year’s starting lineup projects to be no better.  Steamer predictions (Source: Rotochamp.  Accessed 5 March 2017: http://rotochamp.com/baseball/TeamPage.aspx?StatType=Steamer&TeamID=TB ) do not offer much hope for 2017.

The Rays added Colby Rasmus and Wilson Ramos.  They re-signed Logan Morrison.  It’s a serviceable lineup that still lacks speed and any real, consistent power threat.  Wilson Ramos is hurt and there is no clear timeline for his return.  As a result, Curt Casali will be the principal catcher.

ROTOCHAMP PROJECTIONS: TAMPA BAY BATS

Player POS AB R HR RBI SB AVG OPS
Kevin Kiermaier OF 536 71 15 61 20 0.261 0.737
Brad Miller 2B 518 68 21 72 8 0.251 0.756
Evan Longoria 3B 576 77 26 87 3 0.263 0.785
Corey Dickerson DH 498 61 20 69 3 0.252 0.744
Matthew Duffy SS 478 55 9 52 9 0.272 0.711
Colby Rasmus OF 400 48 18 52 3 0.220 0.7
Steven Souza OF 427 51 17 54 10 0.233 0.706
Logan Morrison 1B 275 35 11 37 4 0.247 0.744
Curtis Casali C 25 3 1 3 0 0.208 0.655

The Rays still boast a quality core of Kiermaier, Miller, Longoria and Dickerson.  But, they are now a year older.  Dickerson, Kiermaier and Souza are still under 30 and possess quality skills to offer solid fantasy returns.  But, no one on this team is a top ten player at his position or worth a reach.

longoria hittingLongoria remains a quality 3B option.  But, he is no longer the potential superstar he once was. Yahoo! ranks him #9 among 3B eligible players.  CBS projects him at $18 in mixed leagues and $24 in AL-only.  There are better options in more powerful lineups for your team.  If you can get him at a reasonable price, Kiermaier offers quality speed with 20-30 SB potential.  But, at best, he is a third outfielder. Corey Dickerson remains a source of 20 +HR power.   But, on a team that will be little better at scoring runs that it was last year, he is a middling source of RBIs.

On the bench, there is also little to invest in.  Nick Franklin is a serviceable platoon at 1B opposite Morrison.  Beyond this, pray for health.

ROTATION

With this kind of middling offensive support, Tampa Bay’s pitchers will have to be solid.  They will need to get far enough into games to give the bullpen a fighting chance.  They actually have the arms to do it.  The question is how deep into the season they will last.

Steamer’s projections indicate that this will be a solid, young staff.  All can throw 90+ heat.  The keys to success will be:

  • Chris Archer’s return to form;
  • Odorizzi and Cobb’s taking the next step;
  • and Blake Snell and Jose de Leon’s delivering on their promise.
Player POS IP W L ERA WHIP K BB SwStrike Fastball
Chris Archer SP 199 13 10 3.38 1.19 211 64 12.20% 94.3 mph
Jake Odorizzi SP 162 9 10 4.09 1.26 146 49 9.50% 91.6 mph
Alex Cobb SP 128 8 8 3.97 1.33 95 40 7.50% 90.4 mph
Matt Andriese SP 112 6 6 3.77 1.2 99 27 10.30% 91.8 mph
Blake Snell SP 134 9 8 3.66 1.33 145 65 10.90% 93.5 mph
Jose De Leon SP 117 8 7 3.57 1.2 126 40 10.60% 91.6 mph

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 19: Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches during the second inning of a game against the New York Yankees on April 19, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Archer was a Jekyll and Hyde situation last year.  He had over 200 K, but in between strikeouts, he seemed intent to pitch BP to opposing teams in the first half.  He settled down in the second half.  While his Dominance dropped a bit his BB/9 fell by half.  As a result, his command rate doubled.  You might be able to get Archer at a bit of a discount based on fears about a repeat of last year and the mediocre run support he will get.  But, if he continues where he left off in 2016, he rates as a lower end #1 on your staff.  But, keep an eye on him in the WBC.

Odorizzi is 27 and Cobb is 29.  They have been solid but unspectacular producers. Cobb had TJS in 2015 and returned tentatively last year.  If he can return to his 2014 form, he’ll be a cheap source of K who won’t hurt your ERA or WHIP.

Snell, BlakeBetween them, rookies Snell and De Leon have not pitched 150 big league innings.  But, both throw heat, miss bats and have solid swinging first strike ratios. Both will be subject to innings caps and therefore will be of more value in traditional rotisserie leagues than in H2H.  Both are quality keeper prospects.  They will be great value for less than $10.

The Rays’ front office did little to improve the staff in the offseason.  They got virtually nothing from Seattle in return for Drew Smyly.  Granted, he was no one’s #1.  But, he was a solid, dependable SP who has several good years ahead of him.

BULLPEN

colomeTampa Bay has two closer-quality relievers in Colome and Boxberger.  If your league values, holds, then Cedeno is a quality pickup.  Erasmo Ramirez has never been the pitcher he might have become.  Between Boxberger and Colome, you have a reasonably cheap, consistent, but not spectacular source of saves and holds.  Colome remains a solid source of saves.  But, none of these guys should be the first RP that anyone picks up.

Prospects, Position Battles…

There really is not much to go trawling for in terms of prospects and potential late season call-ups.  What the Rays might do is seek help in the market for another bullpen arm.  With regard to position battles, the Rays can only hope that Ramos will get repaired quickly enough to plug the gaping hole at catcher.  First base is a platoon.  The front office prays that no one will get hurt.

Final Thoughts and Fantasy Breakdowns

Final thoughts:  Tampa Bay fans will eagerly look forward to the arrival of the first 2017 Fantasy Football guides on the shelves of Walmart, Walgreens, etc.  The Trop will not be partying this year.

The Boss asked us to close with a Fantasy Breakdown.  Little did he know that “Breakdown” would be the operative word.   Longoria is the only bat worth drafting here.  He is still a threat for 30 HR.  I think he could fall in drafts because he will carry the baggage of playing for a Tampa Bay team that will be chasing a .500 season. If you can get him for $15 (and use the additional money you might have spent to get a better bat elsewhere), he will provide solid, though unspectacular returns.

Archer is a solid bounce-back candidate if he keeps his walk rate down.  On this team, he won’t be a great source of Wins, but he’s a certain source of 200+ K.  Grab him at a discount.   The rest of the starters are all solid.  Snell and de Leon are great growth stocks who could provide surprising dividends.  Cobb, Andriese and Odorizzi are all potential sources of 150 K.  You could do worse pumping your money into your lineup and looking to snap one or two of these guys at the end of your drafts.  Colome remains a solid source of saves.  But try to get him cheap while the other guys fight for the studs.

Next week:  the Miami Marlins.

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 5th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #77 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both Central divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Hernan Batista, and Jesse Ellison. Jessie is the owner of Ellison Baseball Instruction in S.E. VA. You can visit his organization at ebicamps.com. Hernan is a frequent guest on our shows, and an experienced MLFB league member.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 12th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #78 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we break down both West divisions. We will discuss potential lineups, rotations, bullpens, and any minor league potential for each team along with a heavy fantasy spin.

Our guests this week are Kevin Bzdek and Kevin O’Hara. Kevin Bzdek is one of our newest additions to our baseball writing staff in 2017. His articles publish every Friday morning. Kevin O’Hara is a big dynasty baseball fan and a moderator for the fantasy baseball community on reddit.com.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

Unrepentant Red Sox fan and all things Boston. Deflategate was a joke. Boston Latin School is awesome. Harvard and Johns Hopkins alma maters... Besides that... Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Professor of Politics and Law at Washington and Lee University. Wrote for Ron Shandler's Shandler Park for two summers and have been on board with MLFS since 2011. Been at Washington and Lee since 1990 with a brief hiatus (2010-2013) in the Middle East. Currently developing that last word in Fantasy Baseball analysis. Married to Flor, Dad to William and Alex, and adopted daughter Reem. Soon to be father and law to Meaghann. Alpha male to the world's super-pup, Humphrey. Life is not bad.

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  1. Pingback: Fantasy Baseball: On God, Satan and the Tampa Bay Rays « Mark Rush

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