Tampa Bay Rays All-Time 26-Man Rosterby Alex Kielar September 23, 2021 0 comments
The Tampa Bay Rays have a very short history, as they became a franchise in 1998 as an expansion team. Initially, they were known at the Devil Rays until dropping the “Devil” at the end of the 2007 season. Once they dropped that out of their name, the team had a complete turnaround. In John Maddon’s third year with Tampa Bay in 2008, the Rays improved their record by 31 wins – from 66-96 to 97-65 – and went onto the World Series. They would lose to the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, but the turnaround was remarkable after their first 10 seasons were losing seasons. Since then, they have won two other American League East Division championships, while again making and losing the World Series in 2020.
With a short history, there aren’t many players to pick from for multiple positions. That being said, there are very obvious players and slam dunks for the Rays’ 26-man roster.
Make sure to check out all of our other All-Time Rosters.
Toby Hall, C
There isn’t an overwhelming number one option at catcher, as it’s been a revolving door over the team’s existence. Hall gave the Rays solid defense behind the dish and had a decent enough bat. The backstop played from 2000-06 for Tampa Bay and has played the most games for a catcher in their franchise history with 586 games played. On top of that, he was also very durable as he played in 115 consecutive games from 2003-05. While the offensive numbers aren’t terrific, he sits among some of the Rays’ all-time ranks. Hall ranks 10th in at-bats (2,050) and hits (538), ninth in RBIs (251) and games (586), and seventh in doubles (112). He is also tied for first with home runs by a catcher with 44. Mike Zunino tied him this year and will likely overtake him soon.
Carlos Pena, 1B
This is an easy pick here as Peña had an outstanding four-year stretch with the Rays from 2007-10. His 2007 season was the greatest single-season offensive performance in their franchise history. He hit for a franchise-record 46 home runs, .411 on-base percentage, .627 slugging percentage, and drove in a franchise-record 121 RBI. All these records still hold today, while the production continued the next few seasons. Peña would earn his only All-Star bid in 2009 when he finished with a league-leading 39 homers (tied with Mark Teixeira). He won a gold glove in 2008, a silver slugger in 2007, and earned MVP votes in 2007 and 2009. In the 2008 ALCS, he went off for homers in three straight games, with one in games four, five, and six.
Following the 2010 season, the Dominican-born first baseman signed with the Chicago Cubs before returning to the Rays in 2012. That would be his final season in Tampa Bay before retiring in 2014 with the Texas Rangers. Peña finished with 163 homers with the Rays, which is the second in franchise history behind the third baseman on this all-time team. He has the second-highest slugging percentage behind Fred McGriff‘s .484 with a .483 slugging percentage. His 18.1 bWAR ranks seventh in franchise history.
Ben Zobrist, 2B
The ultimate swiss army knife, Zobrist started the engine for teams to start looking for more players with his skill set. The Rays traded for him in the offseason before the 2015 season from the Houston Astros, and he would spend nine outstanding seasons there. Obviously, being a utility player, the Illinois native played all over the place. But the position he played the most was second base, so he slots in here. Utility players have always been a big asset for teams, but Zobrist was probably the most successful one of all time, given the level of playing time he earned and the performances he put up. He was incredibly valuable, which earned him MVP votes in 2009, 2011, and 2012, while making the All-Star Game in 2009 and 2013.
Zobrist’s 35.3 bWAR ranks third all-time for the franchise behind the third baseman and left fielder on this list. His first year as a full-time player in 2009 was his best year, as he finished eighth in MVP voting. His career-high of 27 homers came that season, while he slashed .297/.405/.543. He also had wheels as he almost had a 20-20 season with 17 bombs. The Dallas Baptist University alum had his career-high of bag swipes in 2010 with 24. Zobrist would go on to win two World Series after leaving the Rays after the 2014 season, with the 2015 Kansas City Royals and 2016 Cubs, and he was the 2016 World Series MVP.
Julio Lugo, SS
Another lighter position, Lugo is a fairly easy pick here with his franchise rankings. Willy Adames could have ended up making it here had the Rays held onto him for longer. But it’s the Rays, and they rarely hold onto their players. Of Lugo’s 12 seasons in the majors, four of them came with the Rays after they signed him in May 2003. Lugo provided some consistency at shortstop for Tampa Bay and put up stats to back it up. The Dominican-born infielder leads all franchise shortstops with 550 career hits and a 13.5 bWAR. He was also very durable, as he played in 157 and 158 games in 2004 and 2005, respectively. His .287 batting average with the Rays ranks sixth in franchise history. Lugo also ranks ninth in hits (550), sixth in on-base percentage (.350), ninth in runs (283), and 10th in doubles (107) and triples (15).
Evan Longoria, 3B
The most slam dunk player on this team, Longoria spent his first 10 major league seasons with the Rays after they drafted him third overall in the 2006 MLB Draft. The California native made an instant impact after making his major league debut two years later, in 2008. He would make the All-Star team that first year while finishing with a .272/.343/.531 slash line with 27 home runs, 127 OPS+, and 85 RBI. Those numbers earned him the AL Rookie of the Year award, earning it unanimously. In the postseason that season, Longoria set the rookie record for most home runs hit in a postseason series with four in the ALCS. He had also become the first rookie and second player overall to hit home runs in each of his first two at-bats.
The Long Beach State alum is first in many categories for the franchise: At-bats (5,450), home runs (261), runs (780), RBIs (892); games (1st, 1,435), doubles (339), walks (1st, 569), sacrifice flies (76), extra-base hits (618), and total bases (2,630). Longoria also has the highest bWAR for the club with 51.2 and second in dWAR at 12.3. He would be an All-Star two more times after his rookie year and his 51.8 WAR leads the franchise. On top of that, one of the franchise’s most iconic moments was his Game 162 walk-off homer in 2011 to send the Rays to the postseason. Longoria was traded to the San Francisco Giants after the 2017 season, which was more of a salary dump more than anything.
Carl Crawford, LF
The Rays took Crawford in the second round of the 1999 draft out of Jefferson Davis High School. He would spend his first nine seasons in Tampa Bay after making his debut in 2002. The Texas native was a multi-tool player, his best one being his speed. He had over 50 stolen bases in five of his seasons, including 60 in 2009, and ran out over 10 triples four times, including an MLB-leading 19 in 2004. His 60 stolen bases are a single-season franchise record, and outside of that, he also leads the franchise for a career in hits (1,480), batting average (.296), stolen bases (409) and triples (105). Crawford’s 1,235 games played with Tampa Bay are second behind Longoria’s 1,435.
Kevin Kiermaier, CF
After being drafted in the 31st round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Kiermaier has turned in a great career with the Rays. Although his bat hasn’t caught up yet, his defense in center field is phenomenal and he’s one of the best defensive players in the game. The Indiana native has won three gold gloves and one platinum glove and every year since Statcast came into existence, he has had at least 10 outs above average. Kiermaier has also had at least 10 defensive runs save (DRS) every season, including 38 in 2015. His 17.5 dWAR is the best in franchise history, while his 30.3 bWAR is fourth.
B.J. Upton, RF
The second overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Rays, Upton finds himself among the top ten ranks for the franchise all-time. The Virginia native spent eight seasons with Tampa Bay after making his debut in 2004. Since Kiermaier gets the nod in center, Upton moves to right where he can show off his impressive arm. Upton had speed, stealing over 30 bases five seasons in a row from 2008-12. His career-high stolen bases came in the World Series run of 2008 when he had 44 and also recorded a .784 OPS. He also ranks second in the franchise with 232 career stolen bases.
Aubrey Huff, DH
Huff made his major league debut in 2000 after being drafted in the fifth round of the 1998 draft. While he won two World Series after leaving the Rays, the University of Miami alum first came into his own with Tampa Bay. Over his seven years with the franchise, Huff hit for solid average and power, while being top five in several categories for the franchise all-time. His top five ranks include batting average (.287), slugging(.477), OPS (.819), hits (870), total bases (1444), home runs (128), and RBI (449).
David Price, LHP
After being drafted first overall in the 2007 draft, it didn’t take long for Price to make an immediate impact for the Rays. The “Price” was most certainly right as he made his debut in 2008 where he would appear in five games, including one start. Of his seven seasons with the Rays, 2012 was his best one, when he won the AL Cy Young award. In that season, the southpaw went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA and 205 strikeouts to 59 walks over 211 innings.
Price wound up making five All-Star teams, was runner up for the Cy Young in 2010, and even received MVP votes in 2012. The Vanderbilt alum is the franchise leader in pitcher’s WAR (21.3), ERA (3.18), WHIP (1.142), and FIP (3.33). He was the ace of the Rays for many years before they shipped him to the Detroit Tigers as part of a three-team trade that send Willy Adames to Tampa Bay in 2014.
James Shields, RHP
For five of Price’s seasons, Shields was pitching alongside him. It took the California native a little longer to make his mark. But once he did, he made a big one, as is the franchise leader in many categories. The right-hander was drafted out of high school in 2000 and made his debut in 2006. He leads the franchise in wins (87), innings (1,454.2), strikeouts (1,250), starts (217), complete games (19), shutouts (8), and K/BB rate (3.676). His best season was 2011 when he was third in Cy Young voting. He led the league with 11 complete games and four shutouts. The Rays traded Shields after the 2012 season to the Kansas City Royals in a deal that included Jake Odorizzi and Will Myers.
Blake Snell, LHP
After Price was gone, Snell came to the Rays and eventually turned into their new ace. The southpaw was drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft and made his debut in 2016. He turned in an outstanding year in 2018. He made his lone All-Star Game and won the AL Cy Young award. That season, he led the league in wins (21), ERA (1.89), and ERA+ (217), while having a sub-1.000 WHIP. Snell is top five in franchise history in pitcher WAR (11.1), ERA (3.24), K/9 (1st-10.489), strikeouts (648), and FIP (3.51).
Chris Archer, RHP
Originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 2006 draft, Archer was traded to the Cubs in 2008, then to the Rays in 2011. At that time, he was still a prospect, being ranked in the top 30 of all of baseball at the start of 2011. The North Carolina native made his major league debut in 2012. He finished third in for the AL Rookie of the Year in 2013. Archer made two All-Star Games, in 2015 and 2017, and finished fifth in Cy Young voting in 2015.
While his career in Tampa Bay was up and down, he is top five for the franchise in pitcher WAR (11.9), ERA (3.71), wins (55), WHIP (1.232), K/9 (9.704), innings pitched (1082.1), strikeouts (1,167), K/BB (3.287), and FIP (3.49). Then at the 2018 trade deadline, Archer was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in one of the most lopsided trades in history. The Rays received Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, and Shane Baz. Baz just made his debut on Monday, striking out five over five innings. Archer re-signed with the Rays for this season, but he has been riddled with injuries and recently got shut down for the season. The move to the 60-day injured list was what brought Shane Baz up to make his debut. It has all come full circle.
Scott Kazmir, RHP
The first-round pick by the New York Mets in the 2002 draft was traded to the Rays at the deadline in 2004. The right-hander spent five and a half seasons in Tampa Bay before being traded to the Los Angeles Angels in 2009. Kazmir is third behind Price and Shields in pitcher WAR with 16.5 for the franchise all-time and third behind Snell and Archer with a 9.432 strikeouts per nine rate.
Fernando Rodney, RHP (Closer)
Normally, someone who only spent two seasons with a team wouldn’t make it on their all-time team. But Rodney had that big of an effect and was that impressive for the Rays, especially in 2012. As a 35-year old, the Dominican-born reliever signed with Tampa Bay for a one-year, $1.75 million deal. Rodney was the closer while Kyle Farnsworth was on the shelf, and kept it for the season. He made his first All-Star Game after converting 24 of 25 save opportunities and had converted 48 saves at the end of the season.
After every save, Rodney had his iconic celebration of shooting an arrow in the sky. His 48 saves were the second-most in the season and a franchise record. He also held a minuscule 0.60 ERA, which was the lowest by a qualifying relief pitcher in major league history. He was named the 2012 AL Comeback Player of the Year and finished fifth for the Cy Young and received MVP votes.
Jake McGee, LHP
McGee made a name for himself with the Rays after spending his first six years in Tampa Bay. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2004 draft out of high school and made his debut in 2010. Over his career with the Rays, he sported great control as he struck out 319 while walking just 72. McGee is the franchise leader in appearances with 297.
Alex Colome, RHP
The right-hander spent his first six years with the Rays after making his debut in 2013. Signed out of the Dominican Republic, Colome made one All-Star Game in 2016 and saved a league-leading 47 games in 2017. He was one of the league’s best closers for those seasons in 2016 and 2017.
Roberto Hernandez, RHP
Hernandez is the franchise leader in saves with 101 over his three seasons there. His 1999 season was outstanding, as he finished with 43 saves, a 3.07 ERA, and a 2.94 FIP.
Grant Balfour, RHP
Despite what his name might suggest, Balfour didn’t walk that many batters. His contributions in the 2008 AL Pennant season were unmatched and helped the Rays to the World Series. The right-hander posted a 1.54 ERA in 51 appearances while he struck out 82 batters and walked 24 in 58 1/3 innings.
Joel Peralta, RHP
Over his four years in Tampa Bay, Peralta was consistent, posting a sub-4.00 FIP every season. The right-hander led the league in appearances with 80.
Matt Joyce, RF/LF
Of his six seasons with the Rays, 2011 was the best one for Joyce, as he made his lone All-Star Game. He played 126 games in right field and hit 17 homers while having a 131 OPS+, the second-highest in a single season by a right fielder in franchise history.
Steven Souza, Jr., RF
In his last season with the team, Souza mashed 30 homers, the most by a right fielder in franchise history. He also finished with an .810 OPS that season. Tampa Bay traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks before spring training.
Fred McGriff, 1B
McGriff hit wherever he was, which included Tampa Bay. Over his first three seasons with the Rays, he hit 78 homers, including 27 in his All-Star season in 2000. The Tampa native is second in the franchise with a career .291 batting average and is the franchise leader with a .380 career on-base percentage.
Logan Forsythe, 2B/3B/1B
The former first-round pick turned his career around when the Rays traded for him before the 2014 season. In 2015, Forsythe played in 153 games while mashing 17 homers and recorded a career-high .804 OPS. He went on to hit 20 homers in 2016 while being a solid utility player for the Rays.
Desmond Jennings, CF/LF
Despite not having a great career, Jennings is still top ten in the franchise for a few offensive categories. He is top 10 in bWAR (13.4), oWAR (11.3), at-bats (2,076), runs (311), total bases (816), triples (22), and stolen bases (95).
Jason Bartlett, SS
Bartlett probably had the best season for a shortstop in franchise history in 2009. That season he slashed .320/.389/.490 in 137 games and recorded the second-most hits in franchise history with 160. During his three seasons, he became a fan favorite and he was the starting shortstop for the team’s World Series run in 2008.
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