10 numbers that stand out from Rays’ remarkable first month
ST. PETERSBURG — There was a lot to like, obviously, about the Rays’ amazing first month of the season, in which they won 23 of 29 games and set several MLB and franchise records.
For some, the best part was the performance, individually and collectively.
“It shows we have a lot of talented players here, really good players here,” shortstop Wander Franco said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “We don’t ever give up. We work hard. And it doesn’t matter who the manager puts in, we’re all ready to go.”
For others, it was the process.
“How consistent the team has shown up every day and played and performed at a pretty high level,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ve won a lot of ballgames, we’ve done it a lot of different ways, but the consistency of the way they’ve come in and worked and been ready to play.”
It also helped shape the personality of the team.
“I think it’s the camaraderie, the willingness to play for each other and to pick each other up,” top starter Shane McClanahan said. “That’s what’s really been standing out.”
Finally, there is the matter of context.
“All the history that has been set is definitely pretty cool to look back on after going through the month, setting some of those records and playing the kind of baseball that we’ve been playing,” said second baseman Brandon Lowe, the longest-tenured position player. “It’s been a blast.”
Here are 10 numbers that stood out through March and April.
Consecutive wins by the Rays to start the season, matching the 1987 Brewers and 1982 Braves for the modern-era (since 1901) record and trailing only the 1884 St. Louis Maroons (who won their first 20) for the all-time record. That included winning their first nine by four or more runs, the longest such streak since the 1939 Yankees did so for 10. The 13-game streak also broke the franchise record for consecutive wins at any point in a season; Lou Piniella’s 2004 team won 12 straight — and later in the same season had a 12-game losing streak — on the way to a then-team-best 70-91 record.
Consecutive home wins by the Rays to start the season, eclipsing the modern-era record of 13 by the 2009 Dodgers and trailing only the 1880 White Stockings (21 games), 1886 Detroit Wolverines (18) and 1884 St. Louis Maroons (16) for the all-time mark. The 14-game streak also broke the franchise record for consecutive home wins at any point in a season.
Pitchers already used by the Rays (not counting first baseman/outfielder Luke Raley) in posting a majors-best 3.10 ERA, six shutouts, .209 opponents’ average and 19 homers allowed. Four were added to the 40-man roster after opening day, and two were designated for assignment and left the organization. The Rays used 37 last season and a franchise record 38 in 2021. The staff compiled a franchise-record 32-inning scoreless streak — including three consecutive shutouts (April 8-10) that was the longest in the majors since the 2015 Cardinals went 38.
Consecutive games with home runs by the Rays to start the season, breaking the modern-era record of 20 by the 2019 Mariners. During the streak, the Rays had 48 home runs among 12 different players. Their majors-leading 61 homers are the second-most hit by a modern-era team through 29 games, trailing only the 2000 Cardinals. With Francisco Mejia going deep Saturday, all 13 position players on the opening-day roster have homered, and eight players have at least five.
Wins in the first 29 games by the Rays, matching the third-most by any modern-era teams. Of the five teams that won more, three won the World Series and a fourth won the league pennant (with no Series yet being played). Of the other 11 teams to win 23, nine reached the Series and six won it.
Best records through first 29 games and how those teams finished the season:
Year Team: W-L, W-L, Finish
1984 Tigers: 25-4, 104-58, Won WS
1955 Dodgers: 25-4, 98-55, Won WS
1902 Pirates: 25-4, 103-36, Won NL
1911 Tigers: 24-5, 89-65, 2nd in AL
1907 Cubs: 24-5, 107-45, Won WS
Other teams to start 23-6 (WS champs marked by asterisk): 2016 Cubs*, 2003 Yankees, 1998 Yankees*, 1981 A’s, 1977 Dodgers, 1958 Yankees*, 1946 Red Sox, 1939 Yankees*, 1928 Yankees*, 1921 Pirates, 1905 Giants*
Increase in chances, from 19.6 percent entering opening day to 57.8 through Sunday’s games, for the Rays to win American League East, per fangraphs.com projections. The Yankees dropped from 42.7 to 11.9. The Rays also improved their chances to make the playoffs from 61.3 to 95.4 and to win the World Series from 4.9 to 11.0.
Difference between runs scored (195) and runs allowed (92) by the Rays, the second-best differential through 29 games in modern-era history, trailing only the 1902 Pirates led by Hall of Famer Honus Wagner. The Rays’ franchise record for a season is plus-206 in 2021.
Magic number to clinch the AL East for the Rays, based on the combined number of their wins, and losses by the second-place Orioles.
Majors-leading runs scored by the Rays; the 14th-most through the first 29 games in the modern era and, more relative, fifth-most in the expansion era (since 1961), trailing the 1999 Indians (204), 1993 Tigers (199), 1997 Rockies (197) and 2000 Cardinals (196). The best example of their quick-strike explosiveness came Saturday, when they were no-hit for six innings by Chicago’s Lance Lynn, then scored 10 in the seventh and 12 in the game. At their current pace (6.72 runs per game), the Rays project to finish the season with 1,089 runs, obliterating the franchise record of 857 (2021) and breaking the all-time record of 1,067 by the 1931 Yankees. The last team to reach four digits was Cleveland in 1999, with 1,009.
Combined March/April winning percentage (94-131) of the eight teams the Rays have played so far: Tigers, Nationals, A’s, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Reds, White Sox (twice), Astros. In May, they face the Pirates, Yankees (twice), Orioles, Mets, Brewers, Blue Jays, Dodgers and Cubs, who at 135-91 have a combined winning percentage of .597.
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