This week, we find the Rays back in second place. With such a terrible June, it's a bit hard to believe that they are still in the hunt for the American League East.
But they are.
For this edition of the SB Nation Tampa Bay Power Rankings, I offer the top five issues your Tampa Bay Rays have had to overcome so far in the 2010 campaign:
- No. 5 - Interleague Play - Even though they had an easier interleague schedule than the Red Sox, the Rays only won 7 of 18 interleague games, while those Sox won 13. The Yankees won 11. Perhaps the Rays were too focused on teaching their pitchers to hit?
- No. 4 - Home Record / Attendance / Stadium talk - Although it does not make a huge difference, the home team should be able to use a crowd and their stadium to some advantage. The Rays don't have that this year. The Rays currently average 22,127 per game, good for No. 24 in the league. The Yankees are at the top of the league and average more than double (45,715) that of the Rays, while the Red Sox average 37,592 (No. 8 overall). Of course, that led to chatter of a new stadium and the possibility of moving. The Rays are only 21-19 at home (Sox 29-17, Yanks 28-13).
- No. 3 - Maddon Tinkers with the Lineup - The word "tinker" was used before the season started - way back in February. Since then, he's shifted, shuffled, mixed, changed, and juggled the lineup, before tinkering with it again. Fans have debated back and forth whether it works or not. Some believe changing the lineup on a regular basis helps with matchups, while others think it's a juggling act that is bound to end up in a drop. So far, so good.
- No. 2 - Offensive offense - The Tampa Bay Rays have a dismal team batting average of .257, only 20th best in the league. The Red Sox (.276) and Yankees (.271) are No. 4 and 7 respectively. May was particularly bad (.245), and June wasn't much better (.250). Speaking of June, after winning nearly 74% of their games in April and more than 58% in May, they went 11-14 in June (.440), before rebounding in July winning 4 of 5 (so far).
- No. 1 - Torrid pace of Red Sox and Yankees (aka the American League East will eat your children) - The Red Sox are currently in 3rd place in the AL East with a record of 49-34. That would be good enough for first place in every division except the NL East, where they would only be a half game behind the San Diego Padres. Read that again -- the third place team in the AL East has a better record than all but one other team in all the land.
So, do you believe Maddon's lineup changes have an effect on the play? What about attendance?
In both instances, the case could be made that ballplayers are ballplayers, and their play shouldn't change because of these things. However, I believe they can have an effect on the team that can't be directly measured. The question is: how much?