2011 Rays Report Card

The Rays Rant is evaluating every Rays player of 2011. Well at least the ones that played a decent amount of time in the big leagues this year. I will also be handing out the following team awards: Team MVP, the Team Leader award, Defensive Player of the Year award, Team Batting Champion, Stolen Base leader, Team RBI King, All-Star, the Impact Player award, the Rookie of the Year award, the Heart & Hustle award, and the Team Player award. Here are the grades and evaluation of the 2011 Rays:

Alex Cobb– When Alex Cobb was called up in the middle of the season to replace the injured Wade Davis, nobody really knew what to expect from him. He quickly showed that he was another Ray rookie talent, and was excelling at the Major League level. It seemed as if he was on a roll, until he required season-ending surgery. I big blow to the pitching staff, but still a bright future ahead. Grade: A

Juan Cruz– The Rays signed Juan Cruz in the offseason as part of their efforts to rebuild the bullpen. When they got Cruz, they were really just trying to get lucky. And very lucky they were, as Cruz went 5-0 in relief for the season. Cruz really was a surprise after the previous two years, which included a horrible 2009 and a 5.1 inning 2010. Grade: A-

Wade Davis– As expected, Wade Davis made the young 5-man Rays rotation. Like the other four guys, Davis looked bright coming into the season. But 2011 ended up being a bit of a frustration for Wade, as he put up better stats the previous season. His ERA climbed .38 points higher, but his 11-10 record with a 4.45 ERA was still pretty decent. Grade: B-

Kyle Farnsworth– Farnsworth was probably the Rays best offseason move. With no bullpen that meant no closer, and the Rays were out to find one. Just like almost every other reliever on the Rays impressive bullpen, Farnsworth didn’t really have high expectations coming into the season. The 36 year-old Farnsworth had the best season of his long career. Grade: A+

Jeremy Hellickson– The surging young right-hander had a tremendous season this year, and was probably the second-best starter in the rotation. His 2.95 ERA is one of the best in the league, and he is a very strong candidate for the ROY award. Grade: A+ Award: Rookie of the Year award

J.P. Howell– Recovering from a horrific shoulder injury, J.P. and the Rays were thrilled after over a year on the sidelines. But it quickly became clear that Howell wasn’t the same, and he ended the season with a 6.16 ERA. Grade: D-

Jake McGee– McGee has been a young bullpen arm that the Rays are excited about. He still is a developing player though, and let up a lot of runs in 2011. Still his 5 wins was pretty good. Grade: C+

Matt Moore– Matt Moore is all he’s hyped up to be. The fireballer southpaw showed terrific stuff in his first month in the MLB, and lead the Rays pitching staff in the postseason. Moore is probably the most exciting rookie in the baseball, and my pick for ROY next year. Grade: A+

Jeff Niemann– Niemann is in a recovering process, after coming back from a major career-setback last year. Everything was looking great for the surging Niemann until he injured his shoulder. This season, Niemann has shown that he is on the right track, with an 11-7 record and a ERA just over 4. Grade: B

Joel Peralta– Peralta had an impressive season as the Rays setup man, and was part of a very smart offseason move. Joel is a big part of the Rays future in the bullpen, and will likely (and hopefully) be a Ray next year. Grade: A-

David Price– Price had extremely high expectations coming into the season. Considering all of that, 2011 may have been a disappointment. After a Cy Young caliber 2010 with a 2.72 ERA and 19 wins, Price finished 2011 with a losing record and an ERA of 3.49. Most think it was just an off-year for the phenom lefty, and he will continue his ace ways in the future. Grade: B Award: All-Star

Cesar Ramos– Being the only left-hander in the ‘pen, Ramos had one of the biggest jobs on the team. He just barely did it good enough. He had problems with the longball, letting up 19 dingers in the season. Grade: C+

James Shields– Shields had an unbelievable season, finishing with a stellar ERA of 2.82 and a remarkable 11 complete games. Shields was really the third-best pitcher in the AL this year, just behind the ridiculous seasons of Verlander and Weaver. Grade: A+ Awards: Team MVP, All-Star

John Jaso– Overall a disappointing year for Jaso. His average dipped to .224 and his defense behind the plate was sloppy. Grade: C

Kelly Shoppach– Quite frankly an embarrassing season for the backstop, hitting .176. The highlight of his season was some clutch homers, but besides that it was just one big disappointment. Grade: D-

Reid Brignac– Another big disappointment for the Rays, Brignac wasn’t able to do anything offensively. He hit .193 and knocked in only 15 runs. His great defense at shortstop was what kept him in the league. Grade: D

Elliot Johnson– Another Rays shortstop hitting in the .190’s. Johnson was still able to get some big hits, and his defense and running game was pretty good. Grade: D+

Casey Kotchman– One of the biggest surprises in MLB this year. Here’s a recent article I wrote about him for a full evaluation. Grade: A+ Awards: C0-Defensive Player of the Year award, Team Batting Champion

Evan Longoria Just like David Price, Longoria had very high expectations coming into the season. Many experts even picked him to be the AL MVP in their preseason predictions. Considering the player he is, 2011 was a bump in the road. Injuries were a big part of it, as he played at least 20 games less than he would have. He still was able to rack up 99 RBIs and 31 dingers, but his .244 average was really the only disappointment. But it won’t be a season that Longo will forget, as he got the biggest hit in franchise history. Grade: B+ Awards: Co-Defensive Player of the Year Award, Co-Impact Player of the Year award, Team RBI King

Sean Rodriguez– The only part of Sean’s game that wasn’t good in 2011, was the hitting. He finished the season with a .223 average. His defense was great and he really helped the Rays with his high baseball IQ. Grade: B- Award: Co-Heart & Hustle award

Ben Zobrist– Every team in baseball wishes they had a player like Zorilla. The best utility man in baseball also knows how to hit, knocking in 91 runs and hitting 46 doubles. What makes Zobrist amazing, is how he defends every position he plays so great. Almost anywhere you put him, he’ll field above-average. Grade: A Award: Team Player of the Year award

Johnny Damon– Closing out on a great career, Damon has shown he can still play. He’s really a perfect fit for the Rays; the way he plays with his heart and hustles on every play. A .261 average and 73 RBIs is not too shabby for a 37 year-old. Grade: B Award: Co-Heart & Hustle award

Sam Fuld– The young left fielder will always be known for his fearless defense in the outfield. His hitting is something that is still developing though. Here’s a past article about him and his legend. Grade: B- Award: Co-Defensive Player of the Year award.

Desmond Jennings– When the Rays called up phenom Desmond Jennings this season, it was huge boost for the team. Every part of his game was great, including his power (which surprised everyone). His season started off with a bang , and that’s when everyone knew what kind of player he was. Grade: A+ Award: Co-Impact Player of the Year award

Justin Ruggiano– Ruggiano has been in the Rays organization for a long time, but hasn’t seen too much big league playing time. His time came in 2011, and he gave the team a bit of a boost with some clutch hits. His defense in left was also impressive. Grade: B-

B.J. Upton– In maybe his last year in a Rays uniform, Upton once again repeated some of his same issues. His average was once again low (.243), his strikeout total was very high, and his baserunning was also not so great. On the bright side of things; Upton knocked in 81 runs, was great in center field, and lead the team in stolen bases with his great speed. Grade: B Award: Stolen Base leader

Matt Joyce– Last but definitely not least, it’s the big bat of Matt. Joyce was one of three Rays elected to the All Star Game in Phoenix. After a terrific first half, Joyce’s second half wasn’t nearly as good. What impressed me about Joyce this year, is how he met his goals. Coming into the season, Joyce worked hard to improve his running and fielding game; which hadn’t been up to par last season. He committed just 3 errors (with 8 assists) this year, and only 1 caught stealing. Grade: B+ Award: All-Star



  1. Jonathan C. Mitchell

    I think you were a little too nice on some grades but not bad overall.

    I would rate Davis lower than a B-. Shoppach should be higher than Jaso. Shoppach was one of the best defensive catchers in the game.

    Also, how did you give Shields the MVP when you had Longoria on the MVP ballot and not Shields? Just curious.

  2. Dan

    I think that Matt Joyce has tremendous upside. He’s a solid player that can have a long and productive MLB career, but he’s got to improve his hitting against left handed pitchers.

  3. Aaron

    Kotchman was a surprise for sure. What’s his contract status for 2012? Free agent? If your interested, check out my blog to see if he made my top ten first baseman of 2011 ranking. I also have the catchers out too. Let me know what you think (agree or disagree).
    — Aaron

  4. mlblogsyossif

    Jonathon- I could agree that maybe I was a little too nice on some of the grades. Davis’s ERA is probably better than any number 5 starter in the MLB, so he’s not that bad just to make that clear. As for Shoppach, he’s never been a good defensive catcher and actually was pretty bad this year. He was a lot better defensively than Jaso though, but Shoppach’s average was just too horrendous. As for the last question; I don’t categorize pitchers in the MVP race unless they are the frontrunner. Therefore, both Weaver and Shields didn’t make my list. Good question though.
    Dan- I agree 100% with that statement.
    Aaron- Unfortunately he is a free agent. And I’ll be sure to check out your blog.

    • Jonathan C. Mitchell

      Shoppach threw out 41% of attempted runners, only had 1 passed ball, and was tied for the major league lead with a +5.0 UZR. He was actually one of the best defensive catchers in the game this past year.

    • Anonymous

      All I can do is lol at the negative statement on Shopps defense. Don’t be shocked if you should see him in training camp and splitting time during the season … With Molina. A cool mix

      • mlblogsyossif

        Anonymous- Ya I agree that Shoppach’s defensive is not up to par, and there’s a lot of things he has to improve on behind the plate. Signing Molina will boost the defense I believe.

  5. Pingback: Top Questions for the Rays Offseason « The Rays Rant
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