With a 96-66 record the Tampa Bay Rays won the American League East. They spent a total of 86 days in first place, and built a high six game lead. They did so by going 43-30 against the other teams in their division and by beating up on teams in the American League Central. That helped them over come their 7-11 record in inter league play. They started off very hot, got hotter in the summer months, and cooled a bit in September going just 13-14 that month. It seems they had a real potential to run away with this division.
It is not the Tampa Bay offense that led to these wins. In fact the team batting average was just .247 second worst amongst the 14 AL teams. They did score 802 runs, the third best AL mark. They did so by collecting 1,343 hits (the second least amount in the AL) and hitting 160 home runs. Only Carl Crawford hit above .300 for the season of their regular nine position players. In fact 1B Carlos Pena hit less than .200 for the year.
The pitching staff of the Rays is the real story. They won the most games (96) among AL squads and their staff ERA was 3.78 the second best AL number. They struck out the second most batters, and walked the third fewest. That is a large reason why they allowed just 649 runs. All of their regular five starters had double digit victories, and all but James Shields finished with a winning record. Their closer, Rafael Soriano, converted 45 saves.
It looks like the Rays will lose Crawford this off season, and significantly shake up their lineup due to its poor performance in 2010. Let us also not forget they did get defeated in the divisional round of the playoffs so a serous upgrade is needed to keep pace with the Yankees and Red Sox.
- Tampa Bay Rays news and notes
- The Business of Major League Baseball
- Joshua Lobdell.com