Who are these winning Rays? ESPN national writer challenges you to name five

Jeff Passan asks his Twitter followers: Can you name five players without looking?
The Rays go into play today with an 8-3 record but not much national name recognition. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
The Rays go into play today with an 8-3 record but not much national name recognition. (MONICA HERNDON | Times)
Published April 9, 2019

The Rays are off to an 8-3 start that makes them among the best teams in baseball.

In a Monday tweet noting their quick start, ESPN national baseball correspondent Jeff Passan tweeted a question to his 289,000 followers asking if they could name five Rays players without looking.

He said he was wondering about that himself, kicked it around with a couple of ESPN’s other baseball experts and decided it was worth asking.

Seeing his post got me wondering if that was a valid and reasonable question, or did it come across as a well-connected national reporter being ignorant of one of the teams having somewhat unexpected early season success?

This is a team with the reigning AL Cy Young award winner (Blake Snell), a two-time Gold Glove winner (Kevin Kiermaier), a pitcher who was integral in the Astros winning the 2017 World Series (Charlie Morton), the No. 4 finisher in the AL Rookie of the Year voting (Joey Wendle), the top defensive catcher in the majors last season per the Wilson award (Mike Zunino), and a player who got NL MVP votes in 2017 (Tommy Pham).

Also pitcher Ryne Stanek, whose turn as the opener got him included in a New York Times article as "an athlete who changed his sport.” Plus, they have a group of rising talented young players including Jose Alvarado, Willy Adames, Diego Castillo, Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe.

I pointed this out in a Twitter reply to Passan, who got some interesting replies from fans as well:

Then Passan responded, attempting to clarifying what he was asking, or who he was asking it to anyway, and claiming Pham, who was acquired July 31, isn’t yet associated by fans as a Ray.

So what do you think? Was a it a jab, or a compliment, or just an innocent and somewhat clumsy observation?