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The Tampa Bay Rays have jumped out to a nearly unprecedented start in 2023.
After closing out a 1-0 win on Monday against the Boston Red Sox, the Rays record moved to 10-0. It also marked the first time since 1987 that an MLB team started the year with 10 consecutive victories.
There have only been two franchises to start the year better in MLB history, and the Rays are just a few wins away from reaching that mark too.
Both the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers and 1982 Atlanta Braves wound up winning 13 straight games to start the season. The Rays would need to sweep the remaining three games of their series with the Red Sox to match those records.
But given how they’ve started, that doesn’t seem too terribly unlikely.
How Have The Rays Started So Hot?
What might be even more impressive than the 10-game win streak is how the Rays have done it.
Monday’s win was a close, hard fought 1-0 game. But not only did they win the previous nine games as well, they won them all by at least four runs.
For a team whose offense wasn’t supposed to be a strength, that’s astonishing.
Through 10 games, the Rays have a remarkable +58 run differential, meaning they’ve outscored teams by an incredible 5.8 runs per game.
Over the course of a full, 162 game schedule, that would equate to a roughly +940 run differential. For some perspective, the MLB record was set in 1884 by the St. Louis Maroons, and that was +458.
In the “modern” era, the 1939 Yankees, with five future Hall of Famers, have the highest mark at +411. Even last year’s 111-win Dodgers team finished with “just” +334.
Obviously +940 isn’t going to happen, but the Rays’ start represents one of the more dominant stretches you’re likely to see.
Basically every Tampa Bay player has had an outstanding start to the season. Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena, Josh Lowe, Isaac Parades have all had an OPS+ ranging from 146 to 225.
On the pitching side, Jeffrey Springs, Drew Rasmussen and Shane McLanahan have combined to allow just two earned runs in 38 innings.
When your hitters are performing like peak Barry Bonds and your starters have an 0.47 ERA, good things are going to happen.
What Does it Mean For Their Season?
Their hot start has had a dramatic impact on the Rays playoff possibilities.
After starting the season at around a 61% chance of making the postseason, per Fangraphs, in just a week and a half, the Rays are now over 90% to play October baseball.
You can’t guarantee anything in April, but you can certainly help your chances. And that’s exactly what the Rays have done.
That said, neither of those 1980’s teams that started 13-0 wound up winning the World Series. In fact, the 1987 Brewers didn’t even win their division, finishing seven games behind.
So while it’s an outstanding, historic start, it’s a reminder of how unbelievably long the MLB season actually is.
Oh and if you were thinking all this success would certainly be enough to pack fans in to Tropicana Field, the Rays currently rank 26th in average attendance at just over 17,000 fans per game.