Sunday, February 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Some good might come from all those Rays losses

ARLINGTON, Texas — Three times in a four-year period, the Rays came to Texas for the most meaningful games of their seasons, facing the Rangers in the 2010 and 2011 American League Division Series, which Tampa Bay lost, and again for the do-or-die Game 163 after the 2013 season, which it won.

This weekend, not so much.

While the Rangers are battling for the chance to secure homefield advantage through the postseason, the Rays, adding their 94th loss to the stack in a 3-1 defeat, obviously aren't playing for much.

But maybe they can win for losing.

As horribly, terribly, woefully bad as this season has been, the Rays might be able to take some good out of it, in theory and in practice, from the field to the front office to the draft room.

For the players who have previously enjoyed the good times, it should be a stark reminder of how frustrating and disappointing losing can be, and that anything and everything that can be done to avoid it, whether that's more consistency or less complacency, needs to be.

"I think there's a lot of motivation with losing, and not wanting to experience it again," said starter Jake Odorizzi. "You know how you don't want to have things go."

For the younger players, it was an opportunity to see how just what the big leagues are about, how tough the competition can be, and how tense and pressure-packed pennant race games can be, all of which should help them in the future.

"There's a lot of guys in here that have been exposed to the big leagues a lot more than either 1) maybe they were expecting or 2) maybe they were ready for," team leader Evan Longoria said. "Those things I definitely think will open your eyes and probably affect the way that you prepare going into next year."

For front office officials, there had to be some humbling as several of their moves, decisions and deep data dives didn't work out. The spin rate didn't help the win rate.

"I think a lot was revealed to the front office," starter Chris Archer said. "I don't want to be too specific, but I think they learned a lot about how to go about acquiring and putting together a team. For sure.

"So it's on both ends. The players' end, yeah, we could have performed more consistently the whole year. And, not being critical, I think the front office learned a lot, too."

Longoria had a similar take.

"I'm sure the front office and the decision-making process will be re-evaluated,' he said. "Every year obviously from the top down you try and formulate a plan, a winning plan, an idea of what it's going to take, what pieces it's going to take to get where you want to be."

For the scouting department, there will be an opportunity, and the accompanying pressure to get it right.

The Rays will have one of the top picks, as high as second, in the 2017 draft, one in which Tampa product and Gators starter Alex Faedo will be among the leading candidates.

The Rays, more so the Devil Rays, have been down that path.

Going into the final weekend of a 2006 season that was even worse than this one, the Devil Rays and Royals were battling for the top pick at the bottom of the standings.

The Rays did their part by getting swept in a four-game series by the Indians, while the Royals rallied, twice in extra innings, to sweep the Tigers.

As a reward for losing more, the Rays got the first overall pick and chose David Price, which worked out pretty, pretty good.

The Royals did okay, but not nearly as well, with infielder Mike Moustakas.

The Devil Rays found themselves in a similar position again at the end of the 2007 season, losing four straight before winning the season finale, finishing two games ahead of the Pirates to earn a second straight No. 1 overall pick.

But with that one they passed on Buster Posey among others and took Tim Beckham.

Sometimes you can't win for losing.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

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