10 numbers that help define what’s wrong with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Cash was right the other day when he said his Rays were “fortunate” to be where they were record-wise a month into the season, given all that’s gone wrong.

Consider the lack of production from their offense, especially key players such as Randy Arozarena and Yandy Diaz. Their deficiencies on defense, in terms of plays messed up or not made. The inconsistencies from both ends of their pitching staff. And the ongoing injury issues that have kept them from fielding anything even close to the 26-man roster they envisioned during spring training.

To go into this weekend 14-18 and just a good week away from battling for the top spot in the American League East?

Fortunate indeed.

They have some hope in that a few of the struggling hitters are trending a wee bit better, the pitching staff seems to have stabilized, and several of the injured players are closing in on returns.

But to this point, they have been somewhat of a mess, four games under .500 for the first time since the 2018 season — before their run of five consecutive playoff appearances began.

Some of the issues are lack of performance by key players, some team-wide, some a result of injuries and roster reconstruction that have left them unbalanced.

Here are 10 numbers entering Thursday that illustrate some of what has ailed the Rays through the first 20% of their schedule.


Rays’ run differential, fourth-worst in the majors through Wednesday and better than only the eight-win Marlins (minus-60), seven-win Rockies (minus-74) and six-win White Sox (minus-80). That includes a majors-most eight losses by six or more runs. Given the organizational emphasis on pitching and defense, this would seem to be not good.


Record in games decided by one or two runs. Given some of their defensive and other issues, that seems an unsustainable performance. Plus, the Rays are 4-8 against teams with .500 or better records and 10-10 vs. teams under .500.


Players on the injured list, second-most in majors. The players lost since the start of spring training have been impactful, including their top two relievers (Pete Fairbanks, Colin Poche), top three left-handed hitters (Brandon Lowe, Josh Lowe, Jonathan Aranda), No. 4 starter (Taj Bradley) and No. 5/6 outfielder (Jonny DeLuca). Plus, their top defensive infielder, Taylor Walls, has been delayed in returning from offseason surgery.


Rays ranking among the 30 teams in terms of defensive runs saved, currently minus-21. More than anything, Cash said, their defense — “every bit of it, all facets” — has been their biggest flaw: “Our defense is not major-league standard, our defense certainly is not Tampa Bay Rays standard, and we’re going to continue to work on it to get it right.”

In their first nine seasons under Cash, the Rays finished lower than 10th only once, in 2022 when they were 18th at plus-9.

Their ineptitude can be measured in other ways, such as being a bottom-third team in’s defensive efficiency index at .689. Last season, they ranked fourth at .703. Related, they have allowed 35 stolen bases, second most in the majors.


Home runs allowed by Rays pitchers, tied with the Blue Jays for second-most in the majors, behind the White Sox. Relievers (including bulk-inning pitchers following openers) gave up 21 of those, which is the most by any bullpen in the majors. Plus, the Rays’ overall ERA of 4.63 ranks 25th.


Extra-base hits, tied for third-fewest in the majors. That’s due in large part to having hit the sixth-fewest home runs (26, with Isaac Paredes the only player with more than three). The weird part is that with 188 singles (third-most in the majors), the Rays actually rank in the upper half of teams with 256 hits and are tied for 16th with a .238 batting average.


Walks by Rays hitters, fifth-fewest in the majors. That includes five games with no free passes and eight with just one. Such an accomplishment is something of a team effort, but it is led by Jose Caballero, who has one walk in 109 plate appearances, two by Harold Ramirez in 110 and three by Amed Rosario in 108. Plus, they have 12 games with 10 or more strikeouts. ... Related, Rays pitchers have given up 102 walks, ranking mid-pack.

.139, .455, 34

Batting average, OPS and OPS+ for outfielder Randy Arozarena, who by just about any measure (in this case minimum 100 plate appearances) has been among the three least-productive players in the majors so far. Plus, Arozarena has had only one game with multiple RBIs, has gone 28 games since his last with multiple hits and has left 61 runners on base (third-most among AL hitters).


At-bats by left-handed hitters against right-handed pitchers, fewest in the majors.

This is where the injuries to lefty swingers Josh Lowe, Brandon Lowe and Jonathan Aranda (as well as the absence of switch-hitter Wander Franco due to legal issues) have really cost the Rays. They have lost the advantage that was a key part of their previous success from stocking their lineups with lefties and being able to counter, and at times prevent, bullpen moves.

Plus, the lefty hitters they have are relatively inexperienced: Richie Palacios, Ben Rortvedt and Austin Shenton, plus switch-hitter Niko Goodrum.

Per’s overall platoon advantage calculations, the Rays overall have had the edge (having batters face opposite-hand pitchers) in only 43.7% of plate appearances, fourth-fewest in the majors. Last season, the Rays were 14th at 52.9. In their 100-win 2021 season, they ranked third at 62.1.

.211, .279

Batting average and on-base percentage for Yandy Diaz, who last year led the AL with a .330 average and was second with a .410 OBP and, as the leadoff hitter, was considered the catalyst to the Rays offense that scored the second-most runs in the AL. Among hitters with 100 at-bats hitting leadoff this season, Diaz has the second-lowest average and third-worst OPS.

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