The Rays have trouble scoring runs. That is no mystery. And if there is anything to blame, it is the $40 million payroll.
One of the biggest differences between a $40 million payroll and a $100 million payroll is depth. The Rays have none. There are some solid bats at the top of the order. But once you get past Casey Kotchman the Rays lineup is riddled with guys that probably should by on the bench or in the minor leagues.
Here is a chart that looks at the Rays OPS by position in the batting order as compared to the American League average. For example, on average, American League hitters batting leadoff have an OPS of .709. Rays leadoff hitters have a .696 OPS.
The top three spots in the order are fine. All three are close to league average. Rays cleanup hitters have been terrible. Of course, Evan Longoria missed a lot of time, and since he has been back he has struggled. Still, cleanup hitters (.662) have been worse than AL number no. 8 hitters (.670).
But where the cleanup hitters have failed, the no. 5 hitters (mostly Kotchman) have more than made up for that, hitting (.889) well-above league average (.742).
Where the lineup struggles is the bottom-third. The nos. 7, 8, and 9 hitters are all hitting below the AL averages for those spots. And the no. 9 hitters (mostly Reid Brignac) have been more than 100 points below average.
In fact, the Rays no. 9 hitters have been so bad, that they actually compare quite unfavorably to no. 9 hitters in the National League. And usually, the no. 9 hitter in the NL is a pitcher.
Notice that the Rays no. 9 hitters have a grand total of 13 extra-base hits. Meanwhile, the no. 9 hitters for the average NL team has 15 extra-base hits.
In other words, the Rays are basically giving the opposing pitchers 2-3 batters to save their best stuff each time through the order. And ultimately, the Rays are trying to outscore the opposition with just six hitters. Not an easy task, to say the least.