Here we are in late September, with six games left to go in the regular season. The Rays stand two games out of a playoff spot with a 86-70 record. Rays fans have seen their share of surprises (pleasant and disappointing) throughout the year, and will probably see more as the 2012 season winds down to another exciting finish. Let’s take a look at four biggest surprises season.
The Amount of Injuries
Every team deals with injuries, but not many have been hit by as many injuries as the Rays have this year. In recent years, the Rays are usually one of the less injury-plagued teams in the league, but that has not been the case at all in 2012. Everybody in the starting lineup besides Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist and Jose Molina has spent time on the DL this season, and 15 players from the 40-man roster have been placed on the DL at some point this season.
When the Rays signed Jeff Keppinger, they knew he was a good contact hitter, but they had no clue he was going put up a line as impressive as .332/.372/.443. He doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title, but he does own the highest batting average in the American League. Among Rays players, Keppinger is first in average, third in wOBA, third in wRC+ and fourth in WAR (among position players).
Carlos Pena and Luke Scott
The Rays acquired both Carlos Pena and Luke Scott in the offseason to give their lineup a much-needed boost. They weren’t expected to be one of the better slugging combos in baseball, but they were expected to produce better than they have this season. Neither Pena or Scott have hit for a wOBA of .315+, a wRC+ of over 100, 20 home runs or an average of over .230. The two have combined for just 115 RBI and a WAR of just 1.3.
Passiveness at Trade Deadline
The Rays are usually one of the more quiet teams during the trade deadline frenzy, but Andrew Friedman & Co. were extra passive this past July. Some big names—such as B.J. Upton and James Shields—were rumored to be on the market for the Rays. The Rays also turned many heads when they said they’d be open to trading any of their starters except Matt Moore. In the end they decided not to trade anyone [on the 40-man roster], and ended up making only one move: acquiring Ryan Roberts.