Who’s better: The ’17 Rays, or the ’18 edition?

by Gary Shelton on May 29, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Longoria was a mainstay for years for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Longoria was a mainstay for years for the Rays./CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

On Memorial Day, do you remember?

The Tampa Bay Rays were for sale, piece by piece, and how did you feel? Evan Longoria was gone, and Logan Morrison, and Steven Souza? Alex Cobb was gone, and Corey Dickerson, and Jake Odorizzi.

And it felt empty. Last year's MVP was gone, and last years All-Star, and the Captain. The bulldog and the power and the danger. It felt like the last Rays' star to leave should just shut out the lights. There have been a lot of bad Rays' team, but rarely has the team felt more desolate, more hopeless.

Of course, you could add this:

It wasn't as if the Rays were breaking up the '27 Yankees, you know.

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Dickerson is off to another good start./CARMEN MANDATO

Dickerson is off to another good start./CARMEN MANDATO

And so the team was stripped for parts, and the home runs left along with their strikeouts. In their stead, there was a team that a lot of us (yeah, me included) thought might lose 100 games.

Ah, but the Rays reached .500 Monday afternoon with a 1-0 victory over Oakland. And you have to admit it. This team has been better than. you thought it would be. It isn't going to make anyone's playoffs, of course, but after a perfectly dreadful start, it's been more fun that you would imagine.

So is this team underpaid? Or were last year's Rays overpaid?

A comparison:

First base:Brad Miller (2018); Logan Morrison (2017): Even if. you don't consider the input of C.J. Cron (listed here as a designated hitter), the edge goes to the Rays. Miller is hitting .246 with five home runs. Morrison is hitting .200 with five homers. Edge: 2018.

Second base: Joey Wendle (2018); Miller (2017) : The move of Miller from second to first has been a good one. Miller seemed lost at second. Wendle, on the other hand, is hitting .284. Of course, if the Rays can't find another place to play him, second base would be manned by Daniel Robertson, a solid defender who is hitting .259. Edge: 2018.

Shortstop: Adeiny Hechavarria (2018), Hechavarria (2017): Hechavarria has been slick both seasons for the Rays. His average this year is 16 points higher than last year's. Edge: 2018.

Third base: Matt Duffy 2018; Evan Longoria 2017:  It might sound like blasphemy to a Rays' fan, but Longoria was showing some wear last year. This year, Duffy is outhitting him .303-.250. With Christian Arroyo behind him, the Rays look solid. Edge: 2018.

Left field: Johnny Field (2018), Corey Dickerson (2017): There was a reason that Dickerson was an all-star last. year. He's solid again this season, hitting .310. Field is hitting just .266. Edge: 2017.

Centerfield: Mallex Smith (2018), Kevin Kiermaier (2017): Kiermaier patrolled center excellently, and hit .273 a year ago. Smith is hitting .297, and he drove in the winning run Monday. But Kiermaier's defense separates him. Edge: 2017.

Right field: Carlos Gomez (2018), Steven Souza (2017):  Souza has had a tough, injury plagued season, hitting just .163. Gomez is hitting just .194. This one might reverse itself if Souza's power kicks in. Edge: 2018.

Starting pitcher: Blake Snell (2018); Alex Cobb (2017): Cobb joined the Orioles late into the season, and he's just 1-6 with a 7.32 ERA. Snell has been superb, going 6-3 with a 2.78 ERA: Edge: 2018.

Starting pitcher: Chris Archer (2018); Archer (2017): Archer has been sharp lately, and he's outpitched his 3-3 record. But Archer was just 4-3 last year.  He's rarely far from .500. Edge: Push.

Starting pitcher: Jake Faria (2018), Jake Odorizzi (2017): Odorizzi is 3-2 with a much better ERA than Faria. Edge: 2017.

Closer: Who hasn't pitched? (2018) vs. Alex Colome (2017): Colome has been shaken for most of the season. Still, he had 11 saves, and he had secured his role. Edge: 2017.

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