Who would be the Rays’ MVP so far?

by Gary Shelton on August 8, 2017 · 2 comments

in Baseball, general, Tampa Bay Rays

Souza has inserted himself into the team MVP category./CARMEN MANDATO

Souza has inserted himself into the team MVP category./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

As we approach the three-quarter turn, the Tampa Bay Rays, somehow, still have a pulse.

They are not a team for the ages. We can admit that. But on the nights when their hitting doesn't disappear, and

Longoria has been steady at third all year./CARMEN MANDATO

Longoria has been steady at third all year./CARMEN MANDATO

on the nights they run the bases with a bit of sense, and on the nights Blake Snell doesn't pitch, and on the nights (more recently) when the bullpen does its job, and on the nights that Kevin Cash doesn't push a reliever to go farther than he's gone, and on the nights when Milwaukee or Seattle or the Yankees aren't in town, they're better than we would have expected.

But who's the best Ray?

With 49 games to go, of course, the final chapter is yet to be written. That's going to say a great deal about who the team MVP is. But 114 games in, let's admit that there are more reasons to vote for more

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Dickerson needs to pull out of his slump for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Dickerson needs to pull out of his slump for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

players than ever. Which says a lot about the team's improvement.This time a year ago, the Rays were 22 games under .500, and there was no reason to even pay attention to the final month.

This year, there is.

So who is the MVP? The candidates:

1. Corey Dickerson, outfielder: Lately, Dickerson has been in a nosedive. At one point, Dickerson was hitting .346, but that was 50 points ago. He's hitting only .233 since the All-Star break. Still, Dickerson was hitting only .232 this time last year. Obviously, the Rays could use him getting hot again.

Morrison has 28 home runs for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Morrison has 28 home runs for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

2. Logan Morrison, first baseman: Morrison has had a solid season with 28 home runs and 66 RBI. That's 18 more homers and 35 more RBI than a year ago. The Rays need Morrison's muscle; of his 66 RBI, 44 have come via the home run.

3. Steven Souza Jr., outfielder: For much of the season, the talk has been whether Dickerson or Morrison had improved the most, but there is room in the conversation for Souza, too. Souza is hitting .269 with 24 homers and a team-high 69 RBI. This time last year, he had 13 fewer homers and 32 fewer RBI.

4. Alex Cobb, pitcher: A stat guy could go crazy trying to separate Cobb from Chris Archer, who have identical 3.80 Earned Run Averages. Cobb has a 1.126 Whip (walks-hits per innings pitched), while Archer is 1.227. Cobb get the edge because Archer has had more run support.

5. Chris Archer, pitcher: If Cobb has done slightly better so far this year, Archer is still leader of the staff and will be counted upon heavily in the days to come. He has almost twice Cobb's strikeouts this season.

6. Evan Longoria, third base: Longoria is having a second straight excellent season (at .271, he's within two points of last year). His home runs are down, but he'll be counted upon heavily to hit down the stretch.

Cobb has been the Rays' best pitcher...barely. /CARMEN MANDATO

Cobb has been the Rays' best pitcher...barely. /CARMEN MANDATO

7. Alex Colome, closer: Colome has been a high-wire act much of the year, but he's usually managed to close games. He has 33 saves (compared to 27 a year ago) and a 3.38 ERA (15 points higher than a year ago). In a rebuilt bullpen, he's still the go-to guy.

8. Adeiny Hechavarria, shortstop: Hechavarria has been all that has been advertised as far a slick-fielding shortstop. He's a late entrant into the MVP category, but he deserves mention.

10. Mallex Smith, outfielder: One of the reasons the Rays didn't fall off this season like they did after losing Kevin Kiermaier a year ago has been the speedy Smith, who adds an element to the Rays' batting order. He's hitting .284.

Hechavarria has been a slick-fielding shortstop./CARMEN MANDATO

Hechavarria has been a slick-fielding shortstop./CARMEN MANDATO

11. Jacob Faria, pitcher: Faria has been gangbusters for the Rays. He's helped to ease the disappointment of Blake Snell, and he's provided back-of-the-rotation success. For a youngster, he has marvelous presence.

12. Tommy Hunter, pitcher: As a guy with one save, Hunter gets overlooked too many nights. He's allowed only one run in his last 19 appearances. He's had 10 holds since July 1, and his ERA is a dominating 1.64.

Rays will depend on Archer to finish strong./CARMEN MANDATO

Rays will depend on Archer to finish strong./CARMEN MANDATO

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller August 8, 2017 at 6:43 am

My top 5 in no particular order are Dickerson, Morrison, Souza, Longoria and Colome. Dickerson and Morrison have tailed off badly in the second half. Souza has been hot and cold with time spent on the DL. So that leaves Longoria and Colome. Both are extremely valuable to the team but I have to pick Colome because he has been so reliable closing out games all year when the team doesn’t ask him to pitch multiple innings. He bends but rarely breaks. We wish he would mow done hitters with perfect innings but as long as he gets the job done that’s really all that counts. He’s been the only consistent guy is the bullpen until recently.

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Gary Shelton August 8, 2017 at 9:23 am

Well-reasoned. I think I’m favoring Souza these days, personally. But I could be wrong. Just nice to have a real list of options, right?

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