The 2020 Rays season was a direct response to the 2019 Rays season. They did the same thing, relied on the same youth movement, made a few more minor signings, and managed to get past the New York Yankees for the division. Arc finalized.
However, it's not exactly as simple as just getting 1st. The Rays need to outlast the Yankees in the playoffs now, and they need to do so with enough force to stay in the conversation well into October. I do believe they have the team for it this year, and it's mainly because it's not dissimilar from the team that chased Houston in the ALDS last year.
You're still dealing with the same central poles- Kevin Kiermaier, Willy Adames, Brandon Lowe, Blake Snell. All four of those parts still work, and still make this team worth talking about. And then other parts that began to kick in last year have matured, like Mike Brosseau, who's been starting a lot at corner positions since Choi and Diaz got injured, and Nick Anderson, who's taken a fuller year in Tampa to become one of the most dangerous relievers in the game. And then you've got layers of this team that you forgot about coming back into vogue, like 2018 standout Joey Wendle getting a lot more starting time this year and selling it, and former trade piece Randy Arozarena becoming deadly off the bench.
There is so much depth in this team, even in the bullpen, that it impresses me. The bench is a little shaky but it works. The injuries to key players have resulted in starting stints for people like Michael Perez and Manny Margot, both of whom have capitalized on the opportunity. And it's even scarier when you realize that the farm system runs even deeper, and some of the best prospects in the game are waiting to come up. The trades have named Wander Franco a lot, but it's way more than just him. This team will be competitive for the remainder of the decade, and may very well win their first World Series this decade.
Will it be this year? Well, to make a World Series, they'll need to get past the Chicago White Sox, and to a lesser extent teams like the Yankees, Athletics and Astros. I do think these guys will go deep into the playoffs, but it remains to be seen whether or not they can seal the deal.
Coming Tomorrow- J.T. Realmuto is likely going to try the open market next year, making the Philadelphia Phillies' decision to trade this guy in exchange for him more and more misguided with every day.