Pop quiz: out of all 20 teams that missed the playoffs this year, which one had the best record?
...Okay, having this being a Rays post is kind of a giveaway, but...say you didn't have the title as a clue? You could have guessed Colorado, or Seattle, or the Cardinals or Nationals...but the Rays, with their mega-September, and their...incredibly strange tactics, finished with 90 wins, which would be impressive in a division that didn't have the Yankees or Red Sox.
Again, this is thanks to Kevin Cash's impressive managing, the homegrown oddball quality of the roster, the team's ace winning a Cy Young, and the pitching staff embracing the 'opener' concept after losing two of their strongest starting pitchers.
And the guy that was thought to be the star of the show this year, Kevin Kiermaier, was...not really a factor. In missing a few months to injury, he effectively handed the reins to the team to...okay, first to Denard Span, but then to Matt Duffy, who's trying to Travis Shaw his way to a leadership thing in Tampa. Kiermaier is still a sharp player, but his .217 average doesn't bode well.
Daniel Robertson was a utility infielder/outfielder that had been stewing in the minors, waiting for a chance to start, and thanks to the rise of the rookies he got his chance, and did fairly well. He notched 34 RBIs in 87 games before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.
Coming Tomorrow- They're big, bad, and they won the whole thing.