Home > Around the league > Analysts Should Stop Trying to Pick Next “Worst to First” Team

Analysts Should Stop Trying to Pick Next “Worst to First” Team

In 2008, the Rays made magic.

An organization that experienced nothing but futility for its first 10 years suddenly broke out, and we watched them go from the worst team in baseball to the best.

One thing is for sure, though, it didn’t happen overnight. And it prompted a new kind of debate every spring. Which is the next team to go worst to first?

photo from tampabay.com

But analysts need to realize that the ‘08 Rays club was a special case, and that many things had to fall in place for them to have the winning season that they did. Suggesting that a different team is capable to replicate that every season is silly.

There were many factors that led to Rays’ climb to the top.

It started with the name change. Now, I’m not saying that every last place team needs to change their name to have a chance, but it was no secret that the new look brought a new sense of enthusiasm and excitement.

Next was the nucleus. The Rays added veterans as well as young talent, and more importantly, got rid of problems. This led to the team chemistry needed to win consistently.

Finally, the manager. I know Joe Maddon makes his mistakes, and he is often criticized for being too loyal to certain players, but there is no question that he gets the best out of them. Maddon’s guys are motivated, and that’s a big key to his success.

When it comes to other popular “worst to first” picks, the Royals were a popular pick in ’09 and the Diamondbacks this year, they just don’t have the spark the ’08 Rays had to make such a drastic improvement.

I’m not saying that the Royals and Diamondbacks are unimproved, but it takes much more that adding a few good players to a roster.

A plethora of things had to come together for the ’08 Rays. It was a combination of great ownership, young talent and team chemistry that got the job done. Not only will they be the last team to go worst to first for a long time, they have turned themselves into a legitimate contender and are ready to get back to the top.

And for the baseball geniuses who keep trying to pick the next worst to first team, keep dreaming.

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Categories: Around the league
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