With the Major League Baseball postseason just around the corner, I thought I would celebrate each of the franchise’s and their storied pasts by selecting an All-Time Team for every club.
The teams consist of one player per infield position (1B, 2B, SS, 3B, C), three outfielders, three starting pitchers, and two relief pitchers. Each American League squad also consists of a designated hitter.
The All-Time Teams will be in order, starting with baseball’s newest clubs (Rays and Diamondbacks) and conclude with the oldest franchise, the Atlanta Braves. Without further ado, here is part one of a 30-part series documenting each franchise’s all-time greats.
Tampa Bay Rays:
First Base: Carlos Peña 2007-10, 2012
The Rays single-season home run record holder (46 in 2007), Peña was a major part in leading the team to the 2008 AL East title and AL championship, winning a Gold Glove in the process. He also won a Silver Slugger in 2007 while being named the AL Comeback Player of the Year. After leading the AL in home runs and being named an All-Star in 2009, he helped Tampa Bay reclaim the AL East title in 2010.
Second Base: Ben Zobrist 2006-14
During a nine-season tenure, Zobrist helped lead Tampa Bay from the basement of the AL East to perennial playoff contenders. Zobrist was part of all four of the Rays playoff teams, winning the AL East in 2008 and 2010 and the AL Wild Card in 2011 and 2013. He was also a major contributor to the 2008 AL pennant-winners and was named an All-Star in 2009.
Shortstop: Jason Bartlett 2008-10
While his tenure only lasted three years, Bartlett left an impact on the shortstop position in Tampa. During his first year he helped take the Rays to the World Series while winning the AL East. During his second year Bartlett was named an All-Star, and during his final season he helped the Rays win the division.
Third Base: Evan Longoria 2008-17
Easily the greatest Rays player of all-time, Longoria made an instant impact during his rookie season, making the All-Star team and winning AL Rookie of the Year while helping Tampa Bay reach the World Series. He followed that up by being named an All-Star and winning a Gold Glove in 2009 (also a Silver Slugger) and 2010 (with a Fielding Bible) while the Rays won the AL East in 2010. He hit the biggest home run in Rays history that sent the club to the 2011 playoffs, while helping Tampa win the AL Wild Card again in 2013. The team’s all-time leader in home runs and RBI had a fantastic final year the Rays, winning his third Gold Glove and became just the second player in club history to hit for the cycle during a game.
Catcher: Dioner Navarro 2006-10
During five seasons in Tampa Bay, Navarro helped the Rays win the 2008 AL East title and AL pennant as well as the 2010 AL East title. During the Cinderella 2008 season, he was named an AL All-Star.
Outfield: Carl Crawford 2002-10
In nine seasons with the Rays, Crawford became the first superstar of the club and is the all-time leader in hits, batting average, triples, games played and stolen bases. A master of defensive play, he won a Gold Glove in 2010 and three Fielding Bibles while patrolling left field. Crawford was named an All-Star four times (winning All-Star MVP in 2009) and also led the American League in stolen bases four times. After the 2008 AL East and pennant-winning campaign, Crawford helped Tampa Bay reclaim the AL East title in 2010 while winning his first Silver Slugger award.
Outfield: Melvin Upton Jr. 2004, 2006-12
Known as B.J. during his Tampa tenure, Upton became the third longest tenured player in team history and became the first Rays player to hit for the cycle during the 2009 season. During his time with the team, they won the AL East in 2008 and 2010 and the Wild Card in 2011, highlighted by claiming the 2008 AL championship.
Outfield: Kevin Kiermaier 2013-present
Currently in his sixth season with the Rays, Kiermaier is well known for his fantastic defense and highlight catches in center field. One of the best defensive players in club history, Kiermaier has won two Gold Gloves (2015-16), as well as the Platinum Glove Award and a Fielding Bible in 2015. During his rookie campaign, he helped Tampa Bay win the AL Wild Card.
Designated hitter: Aubrey Huff 2000-06
Despite playing during the dark days of the Devil Rays franchise, Huff became one of the top hitters in club history during a nearly seven-year tenure. During a career year in 2003, he hit 34 home runs and recorded a 107 RBI while batting .311. Unfortunately for Huff, he missed the turnaround of the franchise just a few years after his departure.
Starting pitcher: David Price 2008-14
The top pitcher in team history, Price began his career in the bullpen, helping the Rays reach the 2008 World Series. After becoming a starter the following year, he became the winningest pitcher in Tampa Bay history, being named an All-Star four times. During a spectacular 2012 season, Price led the AL in earned run average and wins (20), taking home the Cy Young Award. He also helped lead the club to the 2010 AL East title while winning the Warren Spahn Award (top left-handed pitcher) and Wild Card titles in 2011 and 2013 before being traded at the 2014 deadline.
Starting pitcher: Scott Kazmir 2004-09
During a three-year run from 2006-08, Kazmir was one of baseball’s top pitchers. He was named an All-Star in 2006 and led the AL in strikeouts in 2007. During the 2008 campaign, he helped lead the Rays to the AL East and AL championships while being selected to his second All-Star team.
Starting pitcher: Chris Archer 2012-18
In just his second season in the league, Archer helped Tampa Bay return to the playoffs by winning the AL Wild Card. In his fourth season he was named an All-Star for the first time, setting the Rays new single-season strikeouts record (252). Archer was named an All-Star again in 2017 and also helped the U.S. win the World Baseball Classic. After a strong start to 2018, he was dealt at the trade deadline.
Relief pitcher: Fernando Rodney 2012-13
Despite playing only two seasons at Tropicana Field, Rodney is the greatest closer in club history. During a record-setting 2012 season, he was named an All-Star while winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year award and Delivery Man of the Year award and setting the new MLB record for lowest earned run average in a season (0.60 ERA). In 2013, Rodney helped the Rays win the AL Wild Card.
Relief pitcher: Roberto Hernandez 1998-00
One of the better pitchers from the team’s early season struggles, Hernandez was a member of the first three years of Devil Rays baseball. During the 1999 campaign he recorded 43 saves, a team record which stood for 12 seasons. During that same year he was named an AL All-Star.
Others considered: James Shields, Rafael Soriano, Fred McGriff, Jose Canseco, Matt Joyce, Matt Garza