Rays Tidbits and Odds and Ends Stats for 2008
ALDS Game 1 at Tropicana Field Thursday, 2:30 p.m. (TBS, ESPN Radio, WHNZ-AM 1250, 680-AM in Spanish)
ALDS Game 2 at Tropicana Field Friday, 6:00 p.m. (TBS, ESPN Radio, WHNZ-AM 1250, 680-AM in Spanish)
TICKETS FOR THE ALDS – Sold out
CEREMONIAL FIRST PITCHES—Rays Senior Vice President John Higgins, who joined the organization as its first employee in 1995,
and Paul Azinger, captain of the 2008 United States Ryder Cup Champions, will throw out the ceremonial first pitches prior to the first
two games of the 2008 American League Division Series at Tropicana Field this week. Higgins, a long-time resident of St. Petersburg,
will throw out the first pitch before Thursday’s Game 1. He will be accompanied by many of the other 51 Rays employees who have
been with the organization since its inaugural season in 1998. Azinger, a long-time resident of Bradenton, will throw out the first pitch prior to Game 2.
GATES OPEN—Gates will open 2-1/2 hours before first pitch for both games 1 and 2. Tropicana Field parking lots will open 3-1/2
hours before first pitch for those wishing to start their tailgating early.
GAME PROGRAMS—Just as it is in the regular season, game programs for the ALDS at Tropicana Field are free.
HOME ATTENDANCE—The Rays played in front of crowds of 30,000 or more on 23 occasions at Tropicana Field and were 21-2…
their loss to the Twins on the final date of the home schedule snapped a streak of 21 straight wins in front of 30,000 or more…the
Rays drew 1,811,986 to Tropicana Field, their best attended season since the inaugural campaign of 1998 when they drew
2,506,023…Rays increase of 30.4% is the best in the majors…the Rays enjoyed eight sellouts, double the previous high (4 in 2007).
MAJORS’ BEST AT HOME— The Rays finished with the majors best home record at 57-24 (.704)…the last team with more home
wins in one season was the 1998 New York Yankees (62-19)…the Rays are just the 7th team since 1980 to play .700 ball at home…
the Rays won 53 of their last 69 games at home…overall, the Rays lost only 5 series at home all season (20-5-1) in 26 series and lost
only 2 of their last 22 home series (19-2-1) beginning April 22 with a 3-game sweep of Toronto at the Disney Wide World of Sports…
Rays had the majors’ 3rd best ERA at home (3.30, IP-736, ER-270).
FROM WORST…TO THE POSTSEASON—The Rays are just the second team in major league history, first American League team,
to advance to postseason after owning the worst record in the majors the year before…the only other club to do it was the 1991 Atlanta
Braves (94-68) who finished in first place in the National League West and won the NL pennant beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4
games to 3 in the NLCS…they fell to the Minnesota Twins, 4 games to 3 in the World Series…Braves had gone 65-97 the year before.
WINS—The Rays 97 wins tie the Cubs for the 2nd most in the majors in 2008 and are the most ever by a team that had the majors
worst record the year before… Rays 97 wins are also the most ever by a team immediately following a streak of 10+ consecutive losing seasons…the only two other teams to win as many 95 games were the 2006 Detroit Tigers (95-67 after 12 straight losing
seasons and the 1979 Montreal Expos 95-65 after 10 straight losing seasons).
3rd -GREATEST TURNAROUND IN AL HISTORY—The Rays improvement of 31 games from 2007 to 2008 makes is the 3rd greatest
turnaround in American League history trailing only the 1946 Red Sox (+33) and the 1989 Orioles (+32.4)…the Rays match the 1905
Phillies and 1993 Giants for the 6th greatest turnaround in modern major league history (see below)…the Rays are just the second
team all-time to win 95+ games the year after losing +95 games, joining the 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks…the Rays won at Seattle on
August 10 to set the franchise record for wins in a season in their 117th game.
IMPROVEMENT – WHERE THEY RANKED IN MAJORS
Runs Allowed Last (944) T-3rd (671)
ERA Last (5.53) 3rd (3.82)
Opponent’s Batting Average Last (.290) 3rd (.246)
Baserunners per 9 IP 29th (14.68)
Bullpen ERA Last (6.16) 4th (3.55)
Opponent’s Bat. Avg. vs. Bullpen Last (.303) 1st (.220)
Pct of Inherited Runners Scored Last (41.4%) 2nd (25.2%)
Fielding Pct. 27th (.980) 8th (.985)
SERIES PLAY—The Rays won 34 series and swept 10 including 4 against postseason teams: Boston twice, Los Angeles-LA, Boston
and Chicago-NL…the Rays lost only 5 of their last 44 series.
9=8 —It started during one of his many off-season bike rides. Rays Manager Joe Maddon was seeking a way to find a tangible, simple
message to give to his players to reinforce the idea that the Rays could indeed contend in 2008. Thus 9=8 was born. What it means
essentially is: 9 players playing hard every game permitting the Rays to be one of the eight teams in the postseason.
To break it down further, Joe’s team goals were:
9 more wins out of the defense than a year ago
9 more wins out of the offense, and
9 more wins out of the pitching
27 more wins than 2007 would get the Rays into the postseason, 93 wins.
BUCKING THE ODDS—The Las Vegas oddsmakers made the Rays a 150 to 1 shot to win the World Series at the start of the season
…only the Royals, Pirates and Nationals had greater odds (200 to 1 each)…on Opening Day, Coolstandings.com gave the Rays a 3.5% chance of winning the division and a 7.7% chance of making the playoffs.
RAYS YOUNGEST POSTSEASON TEAM—The Rays finished the season with an average age of 27.4, tied with the Twins, Marlins
and Pirates as the 4th youngest teams…only Washington, Oakland (both at 26.9) and Texas (27.1) were younger.
RAYS ROTATION YOUNGEST IN POSTSEASON SINCE 1986 METS— With an average age of 24.6, the Rays have the youngest
rotation to make the postseason since the 1986 New York Mets and the 9th youngest of all-time…the Rays have gone 279 games since
they last had a pitcher 30 years of age or older start a game for them…Jae Seo on May 24, 2007 was the last time.
TAMPA BAY’s FIRST SEASON AS THE RAYS— The Rays removed the “devil” from their name last November and introduced new uniforms, colors, and a bright yellow sunburst icon invoking the magnificence of life in the Sunshine state. Both the new home and away uniforms, as well as the team’s new primary logo, feature the word “Rays” in navy blue lettering cast with a light blue shadow.
Abright yellow sunburst gleams from the letter “R”. The two hues of blue suggest the deep blue waters and bright blue sky for which Florida is known. The elongated tail of the “R” further reinforces the water imagery.
In the primary logo, the team name is set against a white baseball diamond with a prominent navy blue outline. The diamond features base paths, bases and home plate outlined in light blue. The team’s new cap has a base color of navy blue and white “TB” lettering cast with a light blue shadow. The “TB” lettering was custom designed for the team and was selected for its elegant simplicity and classic look. An updated Devil Ray patch is worn on the left sleeve of the jersey.
FIRST ROUNDERS—Rays had 12 former first round draft picks on their roster at season’s end: BJ Upton (TB, 2003, 2nd pick); Rocco
Baldelli (TB, 2000, 6th pick); Evan Longoria (TB, 2006, 3rd pick); Scott Kazmir (2002, NYM, 15th pick); Matt Garza (Minn, 2005, 25th
pick); JP Howell (2004, KC, 31st pick); Gabe Gross (2001, TOR, 15th pick); Carlos Pena (1998, TEX, 10th pick); Cliff Floyd (1991,
MTL, 14th pick); David Price (2007, 1st pick); and Jeff Niemann (2004, TB, 4th pick).
AL’S BEST IN SPRING TRAINING TOO!—Rays went 18-8-2 (.692) during the spring, best spring training record in club history and tied with the Oakland Athletics for the best record in the majors…the Rays become the 7th team in the last 12 years and 13th in the last 27 to advance to postseason after finishing with the majors best spring record….two teams in the last 16 years have posted the best spring training record then gone on to win the World Series: 1997 Marlins and1991 Twins…Rays finished with the best Grapefruit League record since 1999
Rays closed out spring training in St. Petersburg and Al Lang Field as the club moves its spring headquarters to Charlotte County in 2009…this marked the 83rd spring of baseball at Al Lang Field.
FIRST PICK AND POSTSEASON, A FIRST—The Rays became the first team in the 48-year history of the First-Year Player draft to
have the first pick in the draft AND advance to the postseason in the same year. The Rays selected Georgia High School shortstop
Tim Beckham. Tampa Bay’s 35-24 record on draft day (June 5) was the third best-ever on by a team with the first pick.