Top 50 Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays began as an expansion team in 1998, and have been in the loaded American League East, which also houses the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.  Despite this, this is a team that is well run and has made the playoffs five times, won the division twice, and in 2008 would win the Pennant.  They did not win the World Series, but it was a massive accomplishment for them to get there.  The Rays again made the World Series in the COVID-19-reduced season but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This list is up to the end of the 2020 season.

Note: Baseball lists are based on an amalgamation of tenure, traditional statistics, advanced statistics, playoff statistics, and post-season accolades.

Evan Longoria came in the Tampa Bay Rays organization as the 3rd Pick of the 2006 Amateur Draft, and two years later, he would be the starting Third Baseman.  It was an excellent debut for Longoria, who had 27 Home Runs, was an All-Star and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award.  He would help them reach their first World Series, though they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Carl Crawford was a second round pick in 1999 and would debut for Tampa in 2002 playing 64 Games.  The following season would be his coming out party as he would collect 177 Hits and had an American League leading 55 Stolen Bases.  The Leftfielder would remain one of the better hitters and better base stealers over the next few seasons.  From 2004 to 2010, he would have at least 180 Hits, with the exception of 2008, where he was reduced to 109 Games due to injury.  Crawford would have four seasons where he led in Triples and had another…
When you talk about versatile players, Ben Zobrist often comes to the forefront of the mind. Zobrist arrived in 2006 in a trade from Houston, where he was able to make his Major League debut with the Rays.  Zobrist was a role player for the next two years and would become the starting Shortstop for Tampa, but he would often play Second Base and Outfield and fill in where ever he was needed.  
David Price was the first overall draft pick in 2007, and he would make his highly anticipated Rays debut in September of 2008.  He played in the Rays' postseason run to the World Series in a relief capacity, but come the next season, and he was ready to take on his intended role as a starter.


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Kevin Kiermaier is with the Tampa Bay Rays as of this writing, which is to date the only Major League team he has ever played for. 
James Shields made his Major League debut for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2006, and he would play there until 2012.  Starting 217 of his 218 Games, a Ray, Shields became an upper-end starter and certified innings eater for the team.
Carlos Pena would play 14 seasons in the Majors with the best run of her career coming with the Rays.  It was especially noteworthy, considering that it happened when most pundits wrote him off the game entirely.
Known for his four-seam fastball and slider, Scott Kazmir fanned many batters in a Tampa Bay Ray uniform.  
Blake Snell began his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he played for five years, where it can be argued that he had one monster season and the rest being average to mediocre.  
Call him Melvin Jr, or B.J., but we think the former Upton who played for the Rays was a pretty damned good baseball player.
A bona fide flamethrower during his time with Tampa, Chris Archer debuted with Tampa in 2012, a year after he was in the minors and traded from the New York Mets.  Archer would begin an inconsistent career as he was often brilliant and often shellacked. 
The Major League career of Aubrey Huff began when in Tampa Bay, where he would play his first six seasons.
Desmond Jennings played all seven of his seasons in the Majors with the Tampa Bay Rays, first debuting in 2010.
Julio Lugo played for Tampa after the Houston Astros released him early in the 2003 Season.  It turned out to benefit both Lugo and the Rays, as he would be their starting Shortstop for the next three seasons.
After having been named an All-Star four times in his career, Fred McGriff was left available in the 1998 Expansion Draft, and the Tampa Bay Rays were able to have the hometown star as an inaugural Ray.
Matthew Joyce played his first 92 Games of his Major League career with the Detroit Tigers (2008), and he would be traded after to Tampa, where he spent most of 2009 honing his craft in the Minors. 
The best three seasons of Jason Bartlett’s career were with the Tampa Bay Rays (2008-2010), the second of what would be three Major League teams that he would play for.
Alex Cobb was a fourth round pick in 2006, and he would work his way up the ranks to the big club in 2011, where he would start nine games, impressing the brass enough to be named a member of the starting rotation early in 2012.
Rocco Baldelli had an excellent rookie season in 2003 when he debuted in the Majors with the Rays.  Finishing third in American League Rookie of the Year voting, the Centerfielder was seventh in Stolen Bases (27) and tenth in Hits (184), and he would bat .289 with 11 Home Runs.  The 2004 season was also good, with him having a career-high in Home Runs (16) and RBIs (74), and he was first among the AL Centerfielders in Assists and Range Factor per Game.  That was sadly the beginning of the end for Baldelli.