Predicting the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2014 Opening Day Lineup
Tampa Bays Rays' Opening Day Lineup
In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays made it to the World Series, impressing baseball fans by being successful with their low-budget model. Since that time, the Rays have proven that their success was not a one-year fluke; in fact, the Rays are one of the most consistent franchises in baseball these days. They have won at least 90 games in five of the last six seasons, a fact that is especially impressive considering how tough the division they play in is. It helps that the Rays have one of the best coaching and management staffs in veteran manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman.
Maddon's genius-like, mad-man methods lead to severe micromanaging that significantly helped the Rays single-handedly win several games last season. The Rays scored just 700 runs last season, and the pitching staff had an ERA of 3.59; both statistics were middle of the pack in MLB. The Rays truly play as a team. No individual players, including Evan Longoria, stood out last season for their individual performances, but a manager who played his cards well plus role players playing their roles well were a good formula for success. They really are a team rooted in fundamentals that keeps itself in games with good pitching and defense. They do not commit silly mistakes that their opponents can easily capitalize on.
Although still not a big-name, household team, the Rays would not shock anyone if they won the division this season. Experts can hang their predictions on the fact that the team remains the same. The bullpen shuffled a couple of pieces and Kelly Johnson left for the New York Yankees, but otherwise management believes that they don't have to change what has worked.
Let's figure out who will be in the Tampa Bay Rays' opening day lineup.
1. LF David DeJesus
The Rays re-signed David DeJesus with a two-year deal this offseason.
2. 2B Ben Zobrist
Ben Zobrist has been resting up this spring training as he recovers from back issues, but he should be ready for Opening Day.
3. 3B Evan Longoria
The team's franchise player, Evan Longoria, is back once again for another season.
4. RF Wil Myers
Wil Myers is the reigning AL Rookie of the Year.
5. DH Matt Joyce
Matt Joyce hit .235 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs last season against mostly right-handers.
6. 1B James Loney
James Loney earned himself a new three-year deal after joining the Rays last season.
7. CF Desmond Jennings
Speedster Desmond Jennings is also a candidate to hit leadoff.
8. SS Yunel Escobar
The Rays' management chose to exercise their team option on Yunel Escobar this offseason.
9. C Ryan Hanigan
Ryan Hanigan will share playing time at catcher with defensive-specialist Jose Molina.