Playing A Little Pepper

The Rays won 24 of their first 66 games. Since then they have won 25 of 36 games. The result is the Rays are now just 4.5 games back in the Wild Card and are very much a playoff contender. Of course, the Rays can thank the second Wild Card format. Under the old format, the Rays would be 7.5 back in the division and 11.5 games behind the Angels in the Wild Card. If MLB always had 2 Wild Card teams in each league when they went to 6 divisions, here are the win totals for the 180 teams that would have made the playoffs under that format. Can the Rays get to 88 wins? They would basically have to play like a 105-win team the rest of the way.


Game Graph

[Will be up at game time]

Source: FanGraphs


  1. Flash Jennings, CF
  2. Ben Zobrist, RF
  3. Brandon Guyer, LF
  4. Evan Longoria, 3B
  5. Sean Rodriguez, DH
  6. Yunel Escobar, SS
  7. James Loney, 1B
  8. Jose Molina, C
  9. Logan Forsythe, 2B
  10. David Price, SP




  1. Woodrow744 says:

    That, sir is quite a graph.

  2. Jim says:

    So we have less than a 15% chance of making the away wildcard game that has less than a 45% winning chance. That's just to make the REAL playoffs. If you play poker, then you know that this is like going all in on a 2-7 vs AA. We need to cash out NOW!!!!

    • Dave L says:

      Are you the same Jim that was calling out the Rays as crazy fools for--

      Not trading Price in April when we were 4 games out of first?


      Not trading Price in May when we were 5 games out of first and when Price was pitching well but giving up alot of homers. And who said the season was over obviously?

      The same Jim who wanted to trade Zobrist when he was injured and at his lowest trade value in 2014?

      Then when we hit our nadir in late June early July and you said TRADE! Mr Smith tried to explain to you that its a bad time and the best time is at the trade deadline when teams get desperate and thier options are zero.

      You were proven wrong all those times, they were all bad times to trade an Ace or MLB's ultimate utility man.

      Jim you are like the proverbial broken clock who may finally turn out to be right when the time comes. The only possible correct time to trade Price and Zo is near July 31 2014.

      Or not. Time will tell. But April or May or June? Never

      Who has been soiling the bed as you said today? The Rays in 2014?


      • Skateman says:

        To be fair to Jim, this comeback in the standings was a very low probability event. And the odds still suggest the playoffs are unlikely. We cannot linear extrapolate recent performance for the rest of the season. What's most likely to happen is something more middling. But maybe the Rays will continue to beat the odds.

        There were other dangers in hanging on to Price. First, that he would get injured - goodbye trade value. But second, that the teams that might have traded for him earlier would fall out of contention too, reducing their desire to trade. To some extent, this may be happening to the Mariners.

        So far Friedman's decisions have worked. But they were definitely the lower probability bets.

        I still maintain that the nightmare scenario is on the table - win enough games to not trade Price but not enough to to make the playoffs.

        • PoliticalMan says:

          Proponents of selling act as if we get nothing for Price if we don't trade him now. Trading Price in the off season instead of trading him now is not a "nightmare." A nightmare would be if the deadline passed and Price blew his arm out.

          You "sell now" guys need to calm down. Baseball seasons are long. I say the sample size of this season based on where we are right now is too small for you to throw the rest of the season away because of a couple of prospects.

          • J 2.0 says:

            Ok Skateman and Politicalman, who I assume is the same person with two personalities for the sake of posting. Let's say you own a house and today is July 1. Someone comes along and offers you $1 million over market value if you sell by July 31 or will pay you $500k over market value if you sell after July 31. You have a big party scheduled for August 15 that you really want to throw because its your legendary summer blowout. If you sell now you get a lot of extra money but you probably won't be able to throw your party until next year, but you'll have enough money to keep that party an annual tradition. If you wait until after the party on August 15 you will still have your party and make some pretty good cash to go along with it. I say take the $1 million and throw bigger and better parties for years to come, but I can se both sides of the argument.

            I personally think the team is rallying, but they cannot keep this pace up and July 31 goes by and we hold onto Price then the team falls back into a lull. Even if we make the playoffs its not likely going to be a different result than last year. So in my book you set your squad up for the future.

          • Dave L says:

            The only knowledgable baseball person (anonymous GM) I ever read about speaking about the Price trade deadline vs offseason said we could get 40% less.

            Thats signifigant.

            Its not the last word on the subject but its the only learned opinion I have read so far.

            40% less is like the Shields trade with no Odorizzi included. How would that taste right about now?

        • Dave L says:

          Yes but the comeback is irrelevant to why smart teams almost never deal top flight guys in early spring and certainly not when the players are struggling or injured.

          It sends a horrible message to the fans and remaining team if you give up on them 5 games back in June.

          A uber-Dominant Price and a hot Zobrist fresh off a great stint at SS to showcase his versatility will bring back more at the trading deadline than a Price dealing up taters and an injured Zobrist in June.

      • Jim says:

        We should have moved him and we still should move him. Do you honestly think we can keep this pace for the rest of the year? NO.

        We are 7.5 games out of the REAL playoffs, and we've gained a whopping 1 game on them during this run. Is there a possibility that we make a one game playoff in LA? Yep, but then we would at best be 50/50 to win it.

        So let's gamble that Price stays healthy, let's gamble that the trade partners are still offering top value, let's gamble on value in the offseason vs now, let's gamble on a longshot for the World Series. Hell all we have to lose is the immediate future of this team.

        The miracle comeback part 2. Bahahaha! make the deal today.

    • Rob says:

      All of this is just conjecture because we have zero details about what has and what has not been offered to the Rays for Price. Maybe the deal isn't lucrative enough for the Rays to pull the trigger just yet.

  3. Chris says:

    While I think Jim's negativity is a bit much, the real numbers that need to be run is the # of wins Price & Zobrist are worth. Cork suggests 88 wins will do it, but as we see above, sometimes 85 does as well. If it means moving from a 30% chance to make the playoffs down to a 15% chance, but ensuring the future, then you have to make the move.

  4. bbmern says:

    I think the Rays keep Price. When the trade rumors were the same with Shields a couple of years ago, the deadline came and went and they kept Shields. Though he was still traded after that, we gained a few great prospects for our future. I do hope they keep him. This team is so exciting to watch these days. I hope they continue to play well. Go Rays!

    • J 2.0 says:

      I like the enthusiasm, but there is no way a team like the Royals steps up like that again. The Shields trade might go down as one of the worst trades for the Royals. Especially since rumors are swirling about them already trying to trade him.

  5. Berdj J Rassam says:

    Even after this current 8 game winning streak, the Rays are still 3 games under .500 - time to be sellers before the trade deadline and get as much value as you can looking forward to the 2015 season.

    • Dave L says:

      Thats a good way to keep it in perpsective. Who knows whats in AF head? He may just be waiting for the right down moment to pull the trigger.

      But I would guess at or above .500 at the deadline as a minimum. If so maybe only one loss out of 5 games more could do it. Two in a row and they may be gone before the sun rises.

      Trading them on a 13 game win streak seems inconcievable though. That would a direct groin kick to the rest of the clubhouse.

  6. David Spenn says:

    Ironically, eighty-eight wins was the average tally for the first wild card spot when they introduced it at the time according to the research. I think eighty-eight wins nets us a tie for the division, 89 wins the the AL East.......85-86 wins the second wild card spot.

  7. David Spenn says:

    ps - I have the Rays playing a one-game tiebreaker in Baltimore for the division, and winning 4-2 to win the titlein a game 163 (89 wins).

    • Jim says:

      David, we've made up ONE game on Baltimore since July 1st. I repeat, ONE game during this run.

  8. doug says:

    The notion of counting wins and then determining odds for a playoff berth is just speculation. They could win 88 games and be out. Remember the team has to be one of the top two non-division winners or win the division. It is relative to what the other 6 or so teams now out of the top positions that are thinking playoffs do relative to what the Rays do...right now the Rays have not made up much ground on the Yankees for example because they have been on a streak too. That is important because if they do not catch the three ahead of them in the coming weeks as division play reactivates, they cannot qualify. So it is not just a winning percentage from here on; it is a winning percentage in relationship to other hopefuls as well. Sure a statistical graph helps put it into perspective, but is not per se predictive of anything.
    Repeating myself I know, but the decision to trade a player is only partially influenced by playoff considerations. If the right value is involved, a trade will far the buyers probably have not put the requisite value into a deal...

    • David Spenn says:

      Doug, I take it that you mean since the all-star break. We've only played six games thus far. the Rays since June 22nd have made up 5 games on the Yankees. The Yankees are currently losing in the ninth so there will be another opportunity tonight to gain a game.

      We actually play the Yankees (who we've owned, especially at home) again in Mid-August after our trip to TX and Chicago...good timing. Yankees play the Tigers seven times in August as well.

      The Goal is to win the World Series...if that means taking one less prospect in the offseason by holding on to price and/or Zo, etc. so be it.

  9. Dave L says:

    I have the Yanks BJays game on in the background. The Great Pumpkin just powered a 3 run jack to likely put away the Yanks in the top of the ninth.

    Is that good? It feels good emotionally but whats best for the Rays? A Yanks loss is good in any season, but the corresponding Jays win is another mail in this seasons coffin

    With the AL East all playing multiple series against each other they cant play lose-lose games. So what has to happen? The Rays play .750 ball and the Other AL east teams split the remaining season series against each other then get swept or lose series to everybody else?

    Its a really minute possibility to make the playoffs. Even if we are the best team in the AL from here on out it may not be enough.

    I wouldnt bet 40% of Price/Zobrist ultimate trade value on that. Its a roulette wheel and we are betting it all on Red 40 if we dont make the trade.

    • David Spenn says:

      Dave, you root for the team with the worst record as well as the number of times we still play them head-to-head. I'm rooting for Yankees series win since we still play them nine more times opposed to six with the Jays. You don't necessarily need to play .750 to gain games.. I think people are too caught up in the "pace" and playoff percentage (which looks minute, but it's not as minute as it appears).

      • Dave L says:

        So now they are tied and both ahead of us. So what about the rubber match? Too many frogs to jump ultimately maybe

        David if you want to feel some bolstering of your position, ALL the Gurus including Rays top proponents Magrane amongst others, on MLB Network are on the DON'T trade Price/Zo bandwagon-----for now.

        Me too.

        But im on the lets revisit this constantly daily before August 31 at 4pm train and be realistic and unemotional.

        Its a bitter pill to swallow if it comes to it. If Helli comes back as league average AL starter, this may be the best August Rays team ever. And the best one constructed for playoff BBall with the Price-Cobb- Archer buzzsaw to carve up better hitting clubs and give us a chance to win Playoff series not just play them.

        • David Spenn says:

          I agree. People are speculating that the Rays will never have a higher trade ceiling for DP than currently.. I think it's all speculation, and we just don't know. The Rays will still be able to make a decent haul in the offseason for David. What if the Rays hang onto price and they win a World Series...the value is going to be that much higher. Yes, it's economic for the Rays, but what's more economic than winning a World Series?

          If Hellboy can get back to his ROY self, this teams will be unstoppable.

          • Jim says:

            you talk about speculation and then end it with this?!?!?!?! "If Hellboy can get back to his ROY self, this teams will be unstoppable"

            Here's no speculation, if David Price blows out his arm while we are chasing a longshot of a playoff spot then we are completely hosed.


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