Fantasy Baseball 2013: Tampa Bay Rays Hitting & Pitching Projections


Will the Rays really go with James Loney at 1B? Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.

Tampa Bay Rays – Predicted Finish: Second Place, AL East

I have to admit that I’m enamored by the Rays organization. Year in and year out they compete on a limited budget and they do it in creative ways. Andrew Friedman took over the club in 2005 at the ripe ‘ole age of 28 and the Rays have found ways to win ever since.

And it’s not just Friedman. Joe Maddon took over as manager the same year, and has since been the two-time manager of the year in part for the creative way he uses his players all over the field.

The Rays are a well run organization and they develop players well. This is fortunate for you, because they have several great options for you fantasy baseball team, on both the hitting and pitching side. Let’s take a look.

Rays Offense

Desmond JenningsCF26R58194165733.253
Yunel EscobarSS30R50265146713.261
Ben ZobristLF31S5719619 8515.286
Evan Longoria3B27R5308831997.276
Matt JoyceDH28L5206621783.251
Wil MyersRF23R4856924734.280
James Loney
1B28L 220234291.253
Ryan Roberts2B32R 41547104910.266
Jose MolinaC37R 204195291.249

Crackerjack Fantasy Options: Longoria, Zobrist, Jennings, Myers, Escobar

Longoria will be drafted in the 1st Round in most leagues, and with good reason. Still, injuries have kept him from putting together that stratospheric season that everyone knows he’s capable of. He turns 27 this year, so maybe 2013 will be his year.

Zobrist is an on base machine and has eligility at what feels like 9 positions. While his numbers have fluctuated since his breakout, you can bet that he’ll be valuable in multiple fantasy categories.

Injuries have hampered Jennings’ development, but he’s worth a mid-to-late round look for his speed. The return on your investment could be a 15-30 season, but his swing and miss tendencies will limit his bating average upside.

Myers is worth a flyer if just for the outside shot his ungodly minors numbers translate quickly to the minors, but temper your expectations and don’t overpay. Word is that he’ll begin the season in Triple A, but he’ll quickly get a call up.

Escobar has value only because shortstop is so dreadfully thin as a position.

Rays Pitching

1 StarterDavid Price27L 219611619903.121.14
2 StarterJeremy Hellickson25R 188651314403.481.22
3 StarterMatt Moore23L 190741421903.031.20
4 StarterAlex Cobb25R 162571014903.811.35
5 StarterJeff Niemann30R 17447913604.061.24
CloserFernando Rodney36R 7034456373.091.37

Crackerjack Fantasy Options: All, plus a couple names waiting in the wings.

Even with trading James Shields away, the Rays are loaded at pitching. David Price is the reigning Cy Young winner, so you know what you’d be getting there. He’s absolutely elite.

This is the year that Matt Moore puts together a full season of what he teased in the second half of 2012. He’ll strike out 10 per 9 and if his walks come down, he could take the step to elite as well.

Hellickson’s peripherals suggest his 3.00 ERA isn’t sustainable but he’s done it for two seasons now, so why not gamble on a third. Cobb is young with loads of upside and Niemann has the talent to make him worth a fantasy spot start or two. Jake Odorizzi from the KC trade is waiting in the wings, but it’s Chris Archer who throws fire and could be the first to work his way into the rotation.

So, yeah, a lot to like about the Rays’ pitching staff for your fantasy baseball team.

Fantasy Star: Longoria

Longoria and Jaime Edmondson – his playmate model girlfriend – are expecting a baby, due Spring Training ’13. I don’t know why I told you about Little Longo, but there you go. Let’s talk about his skill on the field now.

One of the gazillion things I like about Baseball Reference is the 162-game average they give you. Longo’s numbers over 162 games are 97-33-116-9-.276, numbers he shouldn’t have trouble achieving if he stays on the field. The skill is there.

So is the work ethic. It’s too early, in my opinion, to lump Longo with Tulo in the injury prone category. Draft Longo confidently as a late first round/early second round selection.

Fantasy Bust: Joyce

Matt Joyce isn’t a “bust”, per se, it’s just that the fantasy baseball world has attributed more skill to him than he actually possesses. His 19 homer, 13 steal, .277 season in 2011 is the outlier. Low 20s homers could be there with regular at bats, but the steals or average won’t be. That type of production can be found on the waiver wire.

Fantasy Sleeper: Myers

I’ve written about Wil Myers before, so I’ll point you there. He’ll join Tampa Bay shortly into the season because they just don’t have enough bats right now. He’s probably already gone in dynasty leagues, but he’ll have value in redraft leagues as well, depending upon your tolerance for young players. He’ll be a middle-of-the-order bat in a couple of years.

I certainly expect Tampa to add at least one more bat as the bottom of their lineup is weak. Rest assured, they’ll do it creatively. What you you think about the fantasy baseball potential of the Rays? Let us know in the comments.

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