My all-time Tampa Bays Rays’ team
November 9, 2023
The Tampa Bay Rays are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2023. A couple of months ago, I bought a book that celebrated 25 moments in their history that is written by Marc Tompkins, who has written about the team for the St. Petersburg Times and Tampa Bay Times.
I became a fan of the Rays in 2009. We had relocated to Orlando ten years earlier. We had taken our kids to a couple of Rockies games in 2007 when we spent a summer in Ft. Collins. The recent success of the Rays 2008 World Series appearance and the age of our kids made us want to attend a game in St. Pete. We ended up going to 4 games that summer, 4 games in 2010, 3 in 2011, and a couple of games in 2012.
We moved to Chattanooga in June of 2013 but I continued to follow the Rays through Twitter and the MLB app. I would occasionally watch them on MLB TV. I have also played with the Rays on MLB The Show, playing a full season with MLB The Show 20 and winning the World Series. I am currently playing a season with the Rays in MLB The Show 23.
Here are my choices from my all-time Rays team. I am limiting it to the time I followed the Rays, which is just one year after they made the name change and rebranded their color scheme.
Yandy Diaz (2019–present) – I was originally going to pick Carlos Peña because he played for the Rays in 3 of the 4 seasons that we attended games at Tropicana. But I have to give it up to Yandy as the first Ray to win a batting title (2023). Yandy was a starter in this year’s All-Star game in Seattle and his hitting has gotten better each year. And I love the big smile that he has on his face as he plays. I have enjoyed playing with Yandy in MLB The Show (2020 and 2023).
Brandon Lowe (2018–current) – Lowe is one of my favorite players on the Rays. He comes through with key hits and has a surprising amount of power. I really enjoy playing with him in MLB The Show. He hit 77 HRs for me in the 2020 campaign and leads my current team with 11 through 2 months of play. Brandon recently became the fastest second baseman to hit 100 career homers. I watched a recent interview with him and he seems like a quality guy.
Willy Adames (2018–2021) – Willy was a fan favorite and I was sorry to see him traded in the 2021 season. He is a great fielder and came through many times with the power to hit strategic home runs. He also has a great arm that he showed off in cutting down Jose Altuve at the plate in the 2019 ALDS after cutting off Kevin Kiermaier’s great play and throw in centerfield. I also enjoyed playing with Willy in MLB The Show.
Evan Longoria (2008–2017) – Evan was the face of the franchise when we started following the Rays. I loved watching him both offensively and defensively. He reminded me of another third baseman who was my favorite player growing up, George Brett. Evan had the ability to carry the team on his shoulders, much like Brett did.
My most memorable moment was when Evan hit a homer just over the short wall in left field to win Game 162 in 2011 and send the Rays into the playoffs as the wild card team. We got to see Longo hit two homers in games we attended in 2011, the second being in Game 159.
I listened to the end of the Game 162 on the radio. My daughter remembers coming into our room late at night and I was jumping up and down with excitement as the Rays completed one of the best comebacks in baseball. Game 162 is one of the most memorable nights in MLB history.
Carl Crawford (2002–2010) – I enjoyed seeing Carl play. His speed is what set him apart. He was a good hitter too, posting over .300 batting average in both of the seasons we got to see him play. One of the most memorable plays I remember was when he took a home run away from Brad Hawpe in the 2009 All-Star Game, in which he won the MVP award.
Kevin Kiermaier (2014–2022) – The ‘Outlaw’ was a constant highlight reel in center field (2015, 2016, 2019). He won 3 gold gloves along with a platinum glove (2015) as the best overall defender. He was so much fun to watch in the field. One of my favorite videos of him is him interacting with his son before one of the games in the 2020 World Series.
I was excited to see that Kevin won the Gold Glove this year for the Bluejays. Another interesting footnote is that I saw Kevin play in Chattanooga in 2013 when the Biscuits were playing the Lookouts. I don’t remember seeing him in that game. I was more focused on Kevin Seitzer’s son, who also played for the Biscuits. Kevin Seitzer was one my favorite Royals in the last 80’s.
Randy Arozorena (2020–present) – Okay, so Randy is a left fielder but I had to include him in my outfield and the only other person that stood out in this position was Ben Zobrist. Randy burst onto the scene near the end of the 2020 shortened season. And then he shone brightly on the big stage of the playoffs. And he has a big personality. He looks like he really enjoys playing the game and he plays it hard. I have really liked playing with Randy in MLB The Show 20 and 23.
- James Shields (2006–2012) (the first pitcher we saw at the first game we attended in St. Petersburg). I also liked that he pitched for the Royals when they made it back to the post-season in 2014.
- David Price (2008–2014) – I enjoyed following him on social media and the post he made about his dog, Astro. I always enjoyed watching him pitch. I was heartbroken when he was traded to Detroit.
- Matt Garza (2006–2010) – I listened to his no-hitter on the MLB At Bat app while working on the computer that evening.
- Chris Archer (2012–2018, 2021) – I loved his expressiveness on the field. You could see both his passion and enjoyment of the game.
- Blake Snell (2016–2020) – I really enjoyed pitching with Blake in MLB The Show. He pitched such a great game in the 2020 World Series. I wish they could have won that game for Blake. I was sad to see him get traded in the offseason.
- Shane McClanahan (2021–present) – I have enjoyed pitching with Shane in MLB The Show. I was bummed that his season ended early in 2023. I hope he has a great comeback in 2025.
- Tyler Glasnow (2018–present) – Tyler is another pitcher I enjoy when I play MLB The Show. I love his attitude and approach to the game. I hope that he has a great outing in the postseason in the future.
Fernando Rodney (2012–2013) – Fernando was one of the most colorful players to play for the Rays. I loved his offset cap and shooting an arrow to the sky after a save.
- Ben Zobrist (2008–2104) – We loved seeing Zorilla play all over the field for the Rays. I was really excited when he was traded to the Royals and was part of the 2015 World Championship team. I remember seeing Zobrist hit an inside-the-park homerun in 2011 in Game 159.
- Sam Fuld (2011–2013) – I enjoyed seeing “Super Sam” making diving catches in the outfield during his time with the Rays. He made one in the first game I saw him play in on opening weekend in 2011.
- BJ Upton (2006–2012) – BJ could be an electric player to watch both offensively and defensively. He hit a home run that was the difference maker in the very first game we saw at Tropicana Field in 2009.
- Ji Man Choi (2018–2022) – He seemed to really enjoy the game. I enjoyed watching his highlights on Twitter or when I watched game recaps in the years he played in St. Petersburg. He was another one of my favorites when I played MLB The Show in 2020. He seemed to have a big smile on his face in a lot of the pictures I saw posted on social media.
- Peter Fairbanks (2019–present) – I enjoyed watching him in the 2020 postseason and enjoyed playing with him in MLB The Show 2023. He has been my closer.
- Reid Brignac (2008–2012) – Reid was never a star but a gritty utility player that I enjoyed seeing play. I got to talk to him for a few minutes and had several baseballs signed at the Rays Fan Fest in 2011.