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20 years of the Rays: Ranking every season

20/20 Vision: Ranking every Rays season, from best to worst.
The Rays bench rushes to greet right fielder Gabe Gross after he hit a walk-off solo home run in the 10th inning to beat the White Sox, 4-3, on June 1, 2008. [Times files]
The Rays bench rushes to greet right fielder Gabe Gross after he hit a walk-off solo home run in the 10th inning to beat the White Sox, 4-3, on June 1, 2008. [Times files]
Published Mar. 24, 2018
Updated Mar. 25, 2018

With the Rays planning a year-long celebration of their 20th anniversary, the Times is taking a look back – with 20 lists of 20 things about those first 20 seasons.

Here are the 20 seasons, ranked from best to worst:

Season W-L Manager In a sentence
1. 2008 97-65 Joe Maddon This improbable season will be No. 1 until when/if the Rays ever get back to World Series.
2. 2010 96-66 Joe Maddon Second AL East title in three years was impressive; first-round playoff loss was disappointing.
3. 2013 92-71 Joe Maddon After sluggish start, this was quite the thrill ride, including final day, Game 163, wild card drama.
4. 2011 91-71 Joe Maddon Historically amazing Game 162 made up for a lot during season, but another first-round exit stung.
5. 2012 90-72 Joe Maddon Too much energy battling back into race after 16-24 stretch left them just short in the final week.
6. 2009 84-78 Joe Maddon The World Series hangover is a real thing, and it showed up forcefully as they ran out of gas.
7. 2017 80-82 Kevin Cash Though disappointing at the end, uncharacteristic trade deadline additions made it exciting.
8. 2015 80-82 Kevin Cash Following Maddon was tough enough, a slew of injuries made it worse so 80 wins wasn’t bad.
9. 2004 70-91 Lou Piniella In the Devil Rays era, this actually was considered a success, which they toasted with champagne.
10. 2014 77-85 Joe Maddon Unexpected dropoff truly was sign of bad things to come as Friedman, Maddon left after season.
11. 2007 66-96 Joe Maddon There were signs of hope and progress amid wreckage as several key ’08 pieces were acquired.
12. 2006 61-101 Joe Maddon Though results were worst in years, at least look was different led by new manager in funky glasses.
13. 1998 63-99 Larry Rothschild Just having an expansion team was cool enough, and avoiding 100 losses was even better.
14. 1999 69-93 Larry Rothschild Progress had to be measured incrementally, so improving by six wins was worth something.
15. 2003 63-99 Lou Piniella Thrilling opening day walkoff win over Boston gave way to a reality Piniella didn’t expect to face.
16. 2005 67-95 Lou Piniella Frustration boiled over leading to Piniella’s negotiated departure as new ownership took over.
17. 2016 68-94 Kevin Cash CF Kevin Kiermaier went down in mid-May, and rest of team followed as they never recovered.
18. 2000 69-92 Larry Rothschild The Hit Show tuned out to not be worth a spit, and there really wasn’t a Plan B to turn to.
19. 2001 62-100 Larry Rothschild/Hal McRae Rothschild/McRae Firing Rothschild after a 4-10 start and shuffling the coaching staff was a bad sign.
20. 2002 55-106 Hal McRae 3-0 start was literally the high point as just about everything went bad in a miserable season.