Opening Day 2014: Tampa Bay Rays Season Outlook

Opening Day 2014: Tampa Bay Rays Season Outlook

Evan Longoria
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since dropping 'Devil' from the name, the Tampa Bay Rays have made great strides to become a contender in the AL East. The name change took place in 2008, and the Rays won the division and advanced to the World Series. The Rays have finished in the top three over the last six seasons. They have a great roster and manager to once again win the division.

Top 5 Hitters

Wil Myers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 Hitters

Wil Myers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Wil Myers -- He hit .293 with 13 HRs and 53 RBIs in 88 games. As the Rays' cleanup hitter, Myers will hit 25 home runs and 97 RBIs while still hitting close to .300.
2. Evan Longoria
3. Desmond Jennings -- The Rays' center fielder hit well in 2013. His 14 home runs were a career-high, but his .252 average was less than stellar. He is still a source of power and could anchor the bottom of the Rays' lineup.
4. Ben Zobrist
5. James Loney

Top 5 Pitchers

Alex Cobb
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 Pitchers

Alex Cobb
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

1. David Price
2. Alex Cobb -- Cobb was pitching well before his injury last year. His arm should be fresh entering 2014 and is the team's No. 2 starter. He'll post a sub-3.00 ERA and a 9.0 K/9. The Rays should be excited for a full season from Cobb.
3. Matt Moore
4. Chris Archer -- Another young arm for the Rays, Archer is a scary No. 4 pitcher for opponents to face. He will be an important part of the rotation for years.
5. Grant Balfour

Top 5 Newcomers

Grant Balfour
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 Newcomers

Grant Balfour
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Grant Balfour -- He played with the Rays before, but after losing Fernando Rodney to free agency, he came back and will be the team's closer. At 36, injury is a concern, but he is the best option for the Rays,
2. Heath Bell
3. Ryan Hanigan -- Listed as the starting catcher, the Rays will rely on Hanigan to get on base as the ninth batter in the lineup. Hanigan can draw walks and has a career .359 OBP.
4. Nathan Karns
5 . Logan Forsythe

Top 5 Rookies/Prospects

Jake Odorizzi
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Top 5 Rookies/Prospects

Jake Odorizzi
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jake Odorizzi -- He has the best chance to fill in for Jeremy Hellickson. His four-pitch repertoire can keep batters confused. A little work on keeping the ball low will go a long way for Odorizzi.
2. Andrew Toles
3. Hak-Ju Lee
4. Enny Romero
5. Taylor Guerrieri -- Guerrieri dominated low-A in his first season. He has a great fastball and a curveball. At 21, he won't be in the majors, but will be a name to watch next year.

Overall Season Prediction

Tampa Bay Rays
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Overall Season Prediction

Tampa Bay Rays
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The gap between the top and bottom teams in the AL East has closed greatly. The Rays have made smart moves and unloaded aging players in order to make the team better. Myers and Longoria are the top batters, and the pitching rotation is one of the best in the league. The Rays will be in contention all season.

Final record: 92-70
2nd in AL East, Wild Card winner

Will advance to the ALCS, but lose.

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