Let us all, as American game fans, think about what we have seen: The Tampa Bay Rays are going to the World Series. And Randy Arozarena is the MVP of an American League Championship Series featuring Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Zack Greinke.
While we’re waiting to see who comes out of another Game 7 on Sunday, when the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Atlanta Braves in Texas, let’s get to know how in a year of a pandemic, we’re at the top of a World Series. It will happen. For too long, that doesn’t seem to be possible.
Next, let’s recognize that everyone who chooses the Rays to win the AL pendress before the shortened season begins in July is spot-on. (This writer is not one of them. Thank you, Yankees.) But let’s also visit the rationale for choosing the Rays back then, because that has been shown throughout this posteason. Much has been shown over this long posteason.
“You can imagine a 60 game season, you get into the posteason and it’s not the same,” Rays Game 7 starter Charlie Morton said. “But I looked at every team we played in this posteason, and I knew the guys we played with, they cared, they wanted to win. Probably more this year than any other year. It makes for motivation for every another one. “
The estimated love for Tampa Bay has more to do with the Rays ’construction operation than their touch. Since the Rays feature a decentralized, crowd-sourced structure structure over the years, they seem to fit into the frantic, 60-game campaign we just completed. Beginners cannot be built. No one, really, can be built. So a club with unique building depth and a plan for different pitcher uses would be fine.
If that’s not the case with the Rays, nothing. Certainly, while playing ALCS, the Tampa Bay organizational approach comes as a momentary proof of concept.
“The way we just get talent through our minor leagues and trade, is incredible what [general manager] Erik Neander and the front office have done it, “Kevin Kiermaier said.”; Really. They make a great list, and that is why our talent and depth is what it is. If I said anything, this is if there are staff who can shut down hot-hitting Astros, this is our staff. “
That ‘s true, but you also need points. The issue for the Rays offense is that their most productive hitters on a regular basis have not been productive in the playoffs – along with Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, Willy Adames and Michael Brosseau. So others rose, including standard light-hitting catcher Mike Zunino and semi-regular outfielder Manny Margot.
But no one typed the next dynamic man-up of the Rays than Arozarena.
Arozarena entered the main staff last season and gathered – for St. He had a .891 OPS over 19 games and went without a four-plate showing in the playoffs. He was then traded, along with Jose Martinez (since the deal) in exchange for building prospect Matthew Liberatore.
So, players are moving to major leagues, right? Arozarena looked good during her short stint for St. Louis, but sometimes players look great in short stints and flip flops because their original team knows why that success will be short-lived. The only problem is that when the Rays asked about a player, they repeatedly proved that your best response should be, “No, thank you.” Because if the Rays like your player, then there is something they really like.
“I would not say I am chasing the MVP,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “I’m just trying to do everything for the team.”
He almost did. It’s not to hammer the Cardinals, even as the years play out, it’s probably impossible not to do that. But who would have thought that Arozarena would do what he did this postseason?
See, players are in hot drawings. It happens all the time, and when a player rolls, he does not have to head to Cooperstown. The Postseason series is by definition a parade of tiny sample sizes, so you think there will always be plenty of unsung heroes available to fill the playoffs.
However, what Arozarena did was not normal. This is not a routine. Others have been as hot as he was during the posteason, but if you have any conception in the history of baseball, his name will jump on the list of the hottest posteason and stab you in the eye. Of the players who posted a higher OPS than Arozarena’s 1,288 over 50 appearances on the playoff plate, you can only see Barry Bonds (1,559 in 2002), Carlos Beltran (1,557 in 2004), Paul Molitor (1,378 in 1993). ) and Alex Rodriguez (1,308 in 2009).
Then Arozarena was there. One of those names is not the same as the others.
“Ever since I was replaced, it has been like a family,” Arozarena said. “They welcomed them, and they gave me the freedom to be the player I wanted to be.”
But those are the Rays. Just ask Zunino, who re-homered in Game 7 and took on a zero-buzz trade last year from the Mariners. Just ask Austin Meadows, who was rescued from the prospect-bust status from Pittsburgh. Ask Manny Margot, who only dominates a series played on the Padres field – the club that sent him last winter.
There are many similar stories. The standard denominator is a lesson that seems simple, but if it really is, each team has learned it. The lesson the Rays learned was that if you focus on what a player can do, rather than what he or she cannot do, and you put him or her in a position to do that thing well, the players can be great. Then, as a team, if you surround that player with other players who do great things, everyone adds a great baseball team. True, none of this is the fodder for a sexy teaser of the World Series. But, damn, it sure works.
“Man, it feels good,” Zunino said. “It’s beyond my wild dreams here. I feel so grateful. The group of people, this organization, what we have endured this year. It is a special group.”
Beyond everyone’s playing aspect, it does the tactics of manager Kevin Cash, who is kind of strangely enthusiastic Vulcan as the logout workers go. He speaks to the unselfish, the style of all the players of a successful World College Series coach being put in front for potential recruits. But he is also a ruthless follower of the actuarial part of the game, following his best analytic skills as if he had Spock’s dead emotional life.
Repeatedly, to the astonishment of baseball lifter, his interpretation of principle quantities was spot-on. This happened again with the clincher.
Charlie Morton, the veteran Rays starter who played the lead role in the 2017 Astros championship, is in his game. After five innings, he retired from 13 straight hits in Houston and used only 49 pitches. No Rays pitcher has thrown a complete game since May 14, 2016, when Matt Andriese did it, but could it happen again? After all, given Morton’s dominance and a slight increase in numbers, why would you remove him?
After introducing Josh Reddick to three pitches to start sixth, Morton walked Martin Maldonado to four pitches. The springer is combined with a force. Altuve is alone, but it is an infield chopper perfectly placed. Morton is at 66 pitches, and while there is traffic at the bases, he looks like a pitcher as the game commands.
So, of course, Cash released him. And, of course, this is the right move.
“The thought of going to him, I think we have to stay in accordance with what we think is the right decision,” Cash said. “That is not to say [the decisions] is not tough. They are definitely the. We are very grateful to Charlie Morton, what he brought to our club in the field and certainly to the clubhouse. “
Nick Anderson – the closest to the Rays – escaped in the sixth inning jam. He did that, then built the seventh, and by the time he came out for Pete Fairbanks, he got six outs. Fairbanks got the last four. Overall, the Rays only threw 114 pitches in the game, easily within Morton’s ability if he was left to fend off. But these Rays do not do that.
Now the Rays are in the World Series. As in 2008, the other penny season of Tampa Bay, there will be a lot of reviews about how a starless team with a rock-bottom payroll could end up in the World Series.
Those tests are worth doing, but eventually, they will return empty. The Rays succeeded because they needed to. You can apply the same principles and follow the same methods and crunch the same numbers, but you will probably not get the same answer. Because you are not the Rays.
The Rays have no superstars. They have a list full of great baseball players, though many players on that list are less special when they work hard for others. It’s like rooting for ants, or a rotten Tomato mark, or voting in the All-Star Game.
Keep that in mind when the Rays match the World Series against the Dodgers or the Braves. You can scan their list and wonder how that team of drones could end up in Fall Classic. Do not. Ray is the collective wisdom of mass baseball.
“We believe in our process,” Cash said. “And we will continue to do that.”