Greatest Tampa Bay Rays Sluggers of All-Time
The Tampa Bay Rays, formerly the Devil Rays, have only been a major league franchise since 1998. And for the most part, the team has not performed very well compared to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who entered the league the same year and already have a championship under their belt. The Rays are currently (mid-2008) leading the AL East and have an explosive team, but it wasn't like that for the first ten seasons. What follows is a list of the Top 10 all-time home run hitters in Rays' history to date:
Aubrey Huff (128)-First baseman/DH Aubrey Huff began his career with Tampa Bay and played there from 2000 to 2006. Huff leads the Rays all-time with 128 home runs, and his best season there was 2003, when he hit .311 with career highs in homers (34) and runs batted in (107). At the time I write this, Huff is currently playing for the Baltimore Orioles.
Fred McGriff (99)-Journeyman slugger Fred McGriff only played in Tampa for a short time (1998-2001 and again in 2004), but made that time count by belting 99 home runs. That ranks McGriff second all-time for the Rays at this point. McGriff was signed to try and bolster a new franchise, but it never really worked out that way. His best season in Tampa was 1999, when McGriff hit .310 with 32 homers and 104 RBI.
Carl Crawford (70)-Carl Crawford is one of the most exciting players in the game, and he's led a resurgence in Tampa in 2008 that has the Rays leading both Boston and New York in the AL East. Crawford ranks third in Rays' history with 70 home runs, but if he sticks around should eventually keep creeping up this list. Crawford isn't a power hitter per se, but one of those guys who is a great hitter with a bit of power and a ton of speed. His best season so far was 2006, when Crawford hit .305 with 18 homers (career best), 77 RBI, 58 stolen bases, 20 doubles and 16 triples.
Jonny Gomes (66)-Jonny Gomes has so far played his entire career in Tampa, from 2003 until the present. Gomes ranks fourth in Rays history with 66 home runs, and his best season so far was 2005, his first full one in the majors, when he finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. That year, Gomes hit .282 with 21 homers and 54 RBI.
Carlos Pena (65)-While Carlos Pena began his major league career in 2001 and has played for a few different teams, he had a career year in 2007, his first year in Tampa. That season, Pena had career highs in batting average (.282), home runs (46) and runs batted in (121). He dealt with injury in 2008 but is still on track for another solid season, with 19 homers and 58 RBI through 89 games, and ranks fifth in Rays' history with the 65 total home runs.
Greg Vaughn (60)-Slugger Greg Vaughn hit 50 homers for the Padres in 1998, and 45 with the Reds in 1999. But when he signed with Tampa in 2000, it's like a switch went off, and I do mean off. Vaughn played for Tampa from 2000 to 2002, but only hit 60 home runs during that time. His best year for the Rays was 2000, when he hit .254 with 28 homers and 74 RBI-a far cry from those other two seasons in the National League.
Rocco Baldelli (48)-Outfielder Rocco Baldelli showed a ton of promise since coming up in 2003, but has seemingly been injured his entire major league career. Baldelli hasn't even played yet in 2008, but he still ranks seventh in Rays' history with 48 home runs. His best season 2004, when Baldelli hit .280 with 16 homers and 74 RBI.
Jorge Cantu (44)-Jorge Cantu played for the Rays from 2004 until 2007, and currently ranks tied for eighth in homers for the franchise with 44. Cantu had a great season in 2005, his best with Tampa, hitting .286 with 28 home runs and 117 RBI. He's currently having another great season with the Florida Marlins.
Toby Hall (44)-Catcher Toby Hall played for Tampa from 2000 to 2006, and is tied with Cantu for eight place on the Rays' all-time home run list with 44. In 2003, Hall had his best season in Tampa, hitting .253 with 12 homers (career high) and 47 RBI.
Jose Canseco (43)-Jose Canseco only played in Tampa for one full season, 1999, and part of 2000. But being that the franchise is only ten years old, Canseco still ranks tenth in team history with his 43 home runs as a Ray. In that 1999 season, Canseco hit .279 with 34 home runs and 95 runs batted in.