The Tampa Bay Rays will not be playing in the postseason in 2012. The hopes of another epic season-ending playoff push ended when the Oakland A’s defeated the Texas Rangers Monday night, mathematically eliminating the Rays.
Although the quest for the ultimate goal of a World Series is over, the season was still a success.
The team played 88 games without third baseman Evan Longoria. The absence of Longoria adversely affected the team on offense, defense and in the clubhouse. The team has a 46-26 record in games he has started this season, compared to 43-45 without him.
It’s safe to assume that if Longoria was healthy for the entire season, the Rays would have finished with a better record.
The team suffered other injuries that affected the team this season. Aside from Longoria, the team suffered through injuries to starters including B.J. Upton, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, Luke Scott and Jeff Niemann.
When Kyle Farnsworth started the season on the disabled list, Fernando Rodney took the mound in the ninth inning on Opening Day against the New York Yankees. Rodney went from another Rays bullpen reclamation project to Cy Young candidate, with 47 saves. He is also on the verge of breaking Dennis Eckersley’s ERA record for relief pitchers.
David Price also continued to be a top performer for the Rays in 2012. He became the first 20-game winner in team history despite the team getting shutout on three of his starts. His perseverance and dominance has him in great position to win the AL Cy Young award.
There are plenty of other examples of how the team has had to continuously overcome adversity, payroll constraints, and off the field distractions surrounding stadium attendance to continue to play great baseball.
Now the Rays sit one win away from joining the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies as the only teams to win at least 90 games in four out of the past five seasons.
Jamal Wilburg is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report.