Meet the Rays
Expectations were down for the Rays last year as the team underwent a major cost-cutting overhaul. After finishing with an 80-82 record in 2017, the Rays gutted their roster, letting several free agents walk and trading pieces that had value including former face of the franchise Evan Longoria and current Twins pitcher Jake Odorizzi.
Instead of folding like their neighbors to the South, the Rays wound up making some shrewd moves and wound up with a tremendous season at 90-72. That mark that would have finished a game out of the AL Central, but was 18 games out of division champion Boston and 10 out from wild card winner New York.
Last offseason, the Rays let even more pieces walk, but are still finding a way to win games. One of their biggest overhauls to the roster was the decision to trade Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates last July. That trade netted Tampa Bay plenty of young, cheap talent including budding superstar Austin Meadows and starter Tyler Glasnow, who was 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA before landing on the injured list.
With a cast of no-name players and castoffs such as outfielder Tommy Pham and second baseman Brandon Lowe, the Rays have stepped up to become one of the more surprising teams in baseball. Whether that can continue remains to be seen, but for now, they continue to make the most out of what they have.