We are less than two weeks away from start of the 2016 MLB season and the LT Profits Group are profiling all 30 teams to help with your MLB picks. Next up are the Tampa Bay Rays.
It is almost time to play ball as the beginning of the 2016 MLB season is now less than two weeks away with three games on Sunday, April 3rd, with the rest of the league starting play Monday, April 4th. And in an attempt to assist with your MLB picks, we are profiling all 30 Major League Baseball teams in advance of opening day, continuing today with the Tampa Bay Rays, who finished in fourth place in the American League East in 2015 at 80-82.
First of all, here is a summary of the Tampa Bay betting statistics for the 2015 season. Note that these stats are always for regular season games only and that the units won or lost are based on betting one unit every game, with those units and Over/Under records based on the closing lines from Pinnacle Sports.
Tampa Bay Rays 2015 Betting Stats
Perhaps the nice run that the Rays had as annual contenders in the American League East was mostly due to the genius of former manager Joe Maddon, as the team took a step back last season in its first under Manager Kevin Cash finishing two games below .500. That is not necessarily a knock on Cash, but the Rays are a low budget team that will never have a plethora of superstars, which would make this a tough assignment for most managers. Now we shall take a look at the Rays’ statistical summary for the 2015 season.
2015 Tampa Bay Rays Team Statistics
|Runs per Game||3.98||25th|
It is easy to see why Tampa Bay was a middling team last year as it was consistently mediocre across most areas, except for being considerably weaker when it came to manufacturing runs at less than 4.00 per game. The starting pitching was actually adequate but the bullpen was rather erratic, taking a major step back from the Maddon days. Was that a case of Maddon knowing how to manage the bullpen better than Cash?
2016 Tampa Bay Rays World Series Futures
At first glance, these prices seem to make the Rays an overlay in a competitive American League East where all five teams could have a chance to win the division, especially when you consider that the 2016 Streamer Predictions have the Rays with 86.63 wins. However, that Streamer figure is still just fourth best in the division ahead of only Baltimore (83.14), and Cash has yet to prove that he can get that most out of this team like Maddon oftentimes did.
2016 Tampa Bay Rays Batting Forecast
While he may not be a household name outside of Tampa, Kevin Kiermaier has very quietly proven the be the steal of the 2010 MLB Draft, as after being taken in the 31st round, he has gone on to produce a 9.5 WAR over two seasons’ worth of Major League plate appearances, and the ZiPS Projection have him leading Tampa Bay in 2016 with a 4.2 WAR.
Some may scoff that is more the result of the Rays having a weak lineup than Kiermaier being anything special, but a 4.2 WAR is legitimate star quality. Unfortunately the rest of the lineup leaves a lot to be desired as Evan Longoria projects to the next best WAR at a good 3.4 but then it is a sizable drop to the next best WAR to the merely competent Brad Miller at 2.3.
2016 Tampa Bay Rays Pitching Forecast
The Tampa starting rotation ranked a decent 10th in the majors in collective WAR last season and the stud-like Chris Archer (projected 4.2 WAR) returns as the ace of the staff. The issue though is that projection does not expect improvement from the 27-year-old Archer and the loss of Nate Karns also hurts the staff. This means the Rays will probably need bounce-back seasons from both injury-riddled starters Alex Cobb and Matt Moore.
The jury is also still out on whether the bullpen can improve too. Corey Dickerson is a nice addition for middle relief, but the departure of Jake McGee leaves the Rays thin on the backend. It currently looks like the likes of Brad Boxberger, Alex Colome and Danny Farquhar will lead a closer-by-committee approach.