#20 Tampa Bay Rays
2016 Run Differential: -41
Best Offseason Move: Signing Wilson Ramos
Worst Offseason Move: Trading Mikie Mahtook
Up until this point, we’ve predominantly featured rebuilding teams, and ones that could sneak into Wild Card contention if they catch a few breaks.
Since the playoffs expanded to add an extra Wild Card team, it has opened things up for more teams to contend.
Tampa Bay begins a stretch of teams who could legitimately contend for a wild card place.
Much of the Rays’ playoff chances depend on a rotation that features Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb and Blake Snell.
The rotation could also include Jose De Leon, who came over in a trade for second baseman Logan Forsythe.
In addition to boasting a strong pitching staff, Tampa Bay also fields an offense that could quietly score a high number of runs.
Evan Longoria returns, as does Brad Miller. Both infielders mashed 30 home runs last season, and will likely be joined by a prime bounce-back candidate in Corey Dickerson.
After producing some stellar numbers in Colorado, Dickerson was limited to a .245 batting average and a .469 slugging percentage in his first season in the American League.
Much of that had to do with a BABIP that finished at .285.
If Dickerson can find the form he showcased in Colorado, the Rays will be poised to have a solid season.
This is especially true if the team can get quality contributions out of free agent acquisitions Wilson Ramos and Colby Rasmus.
Ramos will miss part of the season due to injury, but Rasmus will right away step into an outfield that will also include defensive wizard Kevin Kiermaier, speed merchant Mallex Smith and power threat Steven Souza Jr.