Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays: What Went Wrong/Right in 2020

Written by on November 2, 2020

The Tampa Bay Rays had a very memorable season as they won the AL East Division and reached the World Series for only the second time in franchise history. Alas, they ran into a super-talented Los Angeles Dodgers team and lost in six games.

Tampa Bay Ray | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The Rays went 40-20 (.667), finishing the season with the best winning pct. in club history, ahead of their 97-65 (.599) mark in 2008. The Rays clinched the AL East title for the third time in club history (2010, 2008) and made the postseason for a second straight season and sixth time in club history. It was only the second time they made the postseason in back-to-back seasons, following 2010-11.

The Rays ranked 3rd in the majors with a 3.56 ERA behind the Dodgers (3.02) and Indians (3.29). It was the second consecutive season the Rays finished among the majors’ top three in ERA, and the fourth straight season they finished among the top 10.

Tampa Bay played 33 games decided by 2 runs (or fewer), tied with the Astros and Blue Jays for most in the majors. The Rays went 23-10 (.697) in those games, the best winning percentage in the majors The Rays were a major-league-best 14-5 (.737) in 1-run games (10-2 at home, 4-3 on the road), and went 13-3 (.813) in 1-run games beginning on Aug 7.

The Rays had 18 different players with a homer, most in the majors. They were held without a homer 19 times but went 14-5 (.737) in those games, the highest winning pct. since the 1906 Cubs went 99-34 (.744) in homerless games.

In the Wild-Card Round, Tampa easily swept Toronto. In the ALDS, Tampa beat the Yankees in five games. In the ALCS, the Rays blew a 3-0 lead on Houston but won Game 7. The Dodgers were simply too much in the World Series.

The breakout star of the 2020 postseason was Rays rookie Randy Arozarena, who hit 10 home runs – an MLB playoff record. His 10 round-trippers are the most career playoff homers by a Rays hitter, breaking a tie with Evan Longoria (9). Arozarena also set the Major League record for hits (29) and total bases (64) in a single postseason.

Arozarena became the second rookie in Major League history to record three home runs in a single World Series, joining Charlie Keller in 1939. He became the first rookie to tally at least one RBI in four straight Fall Classic games since RBI became an official statistic in 1920. The Rays clubbed 34 round-trippers during their 2020 playoff run, an MLB postseason record.

The Rays and Dodgers combined for 21 home runs during the World Series, the fourth-most in a single Fall Classic, trailing the 2017 WS (25, Dodgers-Astros); the 2019 WS (22, Nationals-Astros); and the 2002 WS (21, Angels-Giants).

Tampa Bay won’t be too active in free agency this winter because the team just doesn’t have much money to spend. In a big surprise, the team declined RHP Charlie Morton’s $15 million option for 2021. General manager Erik Neander did say that the club would be interested in bringing the right-hander back at a lesser salary commitment.

Morton joined the Rays in 2019 on two-year, $30 million contract and helped them earn playoff berths each of the past two seasons. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA this postseason, with the loss coming in Game 3 of the World Series. He was 2-2 with a 4.74 ERA during the season.

The Rays got so far with a delicate balance of pitching and defense this year, and losing Morton would leave a big hole to fill. The Rays still have Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell to front the rotation. Ryan Yarbrough wasn’t quite what he was in 2019, but he should remain a solid option. Yonny Chirinos had Tommy John surgery and will miss most or all of the season. Brendan McKay had shoulder surgery but is hoping to be ready for spring training.

Tampa Bay opens the 2021 season on April 1 at Miami.

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