- The Tampa Bay Rays only have one 100-win season in franchise history.
- They have seven more 90-win seasons.
It didn’t take long for the Tampa Bay Rays to start making headlines in 2023, with their 13-game winning streak to start the season tying the MLB record and quickly establishing them as the team to beat.
As of May 10, the Rays have the best record in MLB at 29-8 (.784) and World Series odds of +700. They’ve built a big lead in the notoriously competitive AL East, with their closest rival, the Baltimore Orioles, 5.5 games back.
So is it too early to ask if this is the best team in franchise history?
Looking for a record-tying victory, the Rays throw a 7-spot on the board! pic.twitter.com/2JAl1YB5yL
— MLB (@MLB) April 13, 2023
The Rays were added as an expansion team in 1998, and in the relatively short period since their founding, they have only one 100-win season (2021).
They’ve finished two other seasons with the best record in the league (2020, 2010) and advanced to the playoffs in an additional five seasons (2008, 2011, 2013, 2019, 2022), but despite two appearances (2008, 2020), the Rays are one of only six active MLB teams that have never won a World Series title.
Is This the Greatest Rays Team Ever?
The MLB season is a long one, and a lot can happen between now and the playoffs, but there’s no question the Rays have started the year extremely hot. If their current win percentage is able to be maintained, the team is tracking to record 127 wins.
While 127 wins is obviously an extremely optimistic projection, especially considering the most wins in a season in MLB history is 116, it indicates just how well the Rays are playing this year.
Considering the franchise’s winningest season ended in a record of 100-62, the 2023 team has the potential to be the best in Rays history — if they can maintain their extremely strong start.
So, with that in mind, which other elite teams have an argument as the best in Rays history?
The only team in franchise history to record 100 wins, the Rays finished the 2021 season with a win percentage of .617 and the best record in the league. They won the AL East for the second consecutive season to advance to the playoffs but lost to the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS.
Despite the abrupt exit from the postseason, manager Kevin Cash was named AL Manager of the Year for the second consecutive season, which was especially deserved when you factor in the seemingly never-ending string of injuries he had to deal with all year. The team utilized a franchise-high 61 players, including 38 pitchers, during the season to support their extensive IL, which only makes 100 wins even more impressive.
— MLB (@MLB) November 16, 2021
As the franchise’s first team to appear in a World Series, the 2008 Rays made quite a splash. After finishing 10 consecutive seasons with losing records, the team turned it all around in 2008, ending the regular season 97-65 (.599) and advancing to the playoffs for the first time.
Joe Maddon was named AL Manager of the Year, and Evan Longoria won AL Rookie of the Year, so even without a World Series title — they lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games — there was plenty to celebrate in Tampa Bay in 2008.
The 2020 season was shortened to just 60 games, but a 40-20 record for a winning percentage of .667 is still very impressive. The Rays finished the season with the best record in the league and advanced to the World Series for the second time in franchise history.
A starting rotation of Blake Snell, Ryan Yarbrough, Tyler Glasnow, and Charlie Morton joined a batting lineup including Randy Arozarena, Brandon Lowe, Willy Adames, and Yandy Diaz, so the team wasn’t all too different from the one we see today.
Still, something just clicked in 2020, and even an eventual elimination by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series can’t take away from a great season.
2020 didn't go according to plan, but it's real
Your Rays are 2020 AL East Champions pic.twitter.com/cd3Azsl4fZ
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 24, 2020
The Rays finished 2010 with a league-leading record of 96-66 and advanced to the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history, but the season came to a quick end with a five-game ALDS loss to the Texas Rangers.
From closer Rafael Soriano to setup men Joaquin Benoit and Grant Balfour, the 2010 bullpen was stacked. David Price led the starting rotation in ERA at 2.72, and Carlos Peña, Evan Longoria, and Carl Crawford kept the batting lineup in fantastic shape. The season may not have ended in the glory the team expected, but there was still a lot to like about the 2010 Rays.
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