No team relies more on player development than the Tampa Bay Rays. For example, in 2011, the Rays were the only team in which every game was started by a pitcher that they drafted.
And yet, the following stat still came as a bit of a surprise: No organization played more games in 2011.
We all think of an organization having the standard allotment of teams, including the parent club, and your standard minor league affiliates, single-A through triple-A. But there are other teams below single-A, and no team takes advantage of that more than the Rays.
Over at FlipFlopFlyin.com (we own two of Craig Robinson’s books and highly recommend them) they created an infographic ranking all 30 teams by winning percentage throughout all levels. Here is a snippet…
We noticed that the Rays organization led all of baseball with 541 wins. That’s cool. But then we noticed the Rays were just 11th in winning percentage. Well, that was weird.
It turns out, one reason the Rays led in wins was because they also led in games played. Here is the full list…
If you go back and look at the infographic, you see ten teams are counted in the Rays organization*. By our count, the Mariners and Mets are the only other franchises with a total of ten teams in their system. And one-third of the team have just eight teams in their system.
If X% of minor leaguers are expected to contribute at the big league level, the Rays increase the number of legit prospects by increasing the number of players in the system.
The downside is that extra teams require extra cost. So the Rays may not invest as much as other teams in the big league payroll. But few teams invest as much at the minor league level.
*This includes partial teams. For example, in the Arizona Fall League, the Rays share a team with other big league clubs.