Baseball is one of the oldest sports played in the US today, which is why the MLB features franchises that can trace their history back to over a hundred years. The first World Series was held over a hundred and ten years ago in 1903. This was two years after the formation of the American League, which itself was created twenty five years after the National League was formed in 1876.
The storied history and heritage has given the sport a certain prestige around the country and has helped the league to record the highest season attendance numbers in the world. So, you can imagine how hard it would be for a new team to enter into this well established league and try to make a name for themselves from scratch? Well that is exactly what the Tampa Bay Rays did, in 1998.
Even though the going was tough in the beginning, the team has since found some consistency in their performances. It has been possible largely due to their acquisition of both, seasoned and up and coming talents, which made up their squad roster that was brimming with experience and hope.
The team has been through several changes over the last five years in particular, with many players coming and going, as well as a momentous coaching change that might have a profound effect on the franchise’s immediate future. To better understand their situation, we will have to analyze their performances over the last few years, in order to determine what more can be expected from this side in the future.
This season marked the fourteenth year the Rays had been part of the MLB, having made their debut in 1998. It started with the departure of several high profile players, including Carl Crawford and Dan Wheeler to the Boston Red Sox, Randy Choate to the Florida Marlins and Rafael Soriano to the New York Yankees.
There was to be even more bad news at the beginning of the season in April, with the franchise failing to win their first game against the Baltimore Orioles and going on to lose a further five games after that. However, they turned their fortunes around with their seventh game, and finished the month with a record of fifteen wins and twelve losses.
Over the next five months, they posted a losing record only in the month of July and the very next month they managed to record their highest wins of the month with eighteen victories.
After all this, the franchise finished the regular season in second place in their division, and made it into the playoffs as a wildcard. In the subsequent division championship series, they managed to win one game against the Texas Rangers, but were ultimately beaten and knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, in a repeat of their 2010 postseason performances. They finished the season with ninety one wins and seventy one losses.
To make up for their dismal record in last year’s transfer market, the Rays made several trades in preseason. José Molina was signed from the Toronto Blue Jays, while Fernando Rodney signed from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Luke Scott was brought in from the Orioles and Carlos Peña also came back after only a year with the Cubs.
The 2012 season started off to great results, and the team managed to win four of their opening five games. They finished off the month with fifteen wins and only eight losses, setting themselves up nicely for the rest of the season.
However, over the next three months, their results started to stagnate, and so when they did rally in the last two months, it did not help them out too much. In the end, they finished the year in third place, with a record of ninety wins and seventy two losses, and failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in three years.
The Rays wanted to leave the memories of the disappointing 2012 season behind them. However, they managed to lose several important team players in the preseason and questions were asked about their transfer policy. The three major moves of the offseason included B. J. Upton to the Atlanta Braves, Jeff Keppinger to the Chicago White Sox and J. P. Howell to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Rays did not get off to an encouraging start in the league, and only managed to win five games in their first fifteen fixtures. However, they improved markedly over the next few months and even won twenty one games in the month of July. They also managed to qualify for the division series championships against the Red Sox, after winning their wild card game against the Cleveland Indians, but that was the end of their postseason journey. They finished the season with ninety two wins and seventy one losses.
This was the Rays’ seventeenth season in the league and it began with some very disappointing news. Coach Joe Maddon decided to leave the team to join the Chicago Cubs instead, and he was replaced with rookie coach, and a former Rays’ player, Kevin Cash.
Even though the season started off with a win, it went downhill from there. They posted only eleven victories in their first month, compared to sixteen losses, and managed to record a positive win rate in only the month of July. In the end, they failed to qualify for the playoffs and posted their first losing season record in over six years, with a total of seventy seven wins, and eight five losses.
In a bid to move on from their below par 2014 season, the Rays entered the offseason with a view to add quality to their squad roster. They signed several future prospects and team players to strengthen their team and even promoted a few players from the minor leagues.
The Rays got off to a losing start in the league, and lost three of their first five games. This record did not improve all that much over the next few months, with the team recording their worst record during the month of July, when they lost sixteen games from a total of twenty five.
In the end, the Rays won eighty games and lost eighty two, to post their second losing season record in consecutive years. They will now be looking to end this disappointing run and prove to the rest of the league that they are here to win games and titles, as well as build such a legacy that it will last them over a hundred years as well.