How odd is it to make the Tampa Bay Rays the favorite in the World Series? It is, considering ever since their inception in 1995, they've had horrible year after horrible year. It's not for a lack of talent, given they had Fred McGriff, Jose Canseco, Wade Boggs and... well, that's it. But now, thanks to BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Scott Kazmir and David Price, it's a viable team. Lead by head coach Joe Maddon, it's apparent that all they needed to do is drop the "Devil" of the Devil Rays. Now that they're a little holier, it's apparent they're destined to do great things. If history is a stat you believe in, most of the last Series have been sweeps. The 04 Red Sox, the 05 Cardinals and the 07 Red Sox... that votes well. The Rays are hot, hitting balls out in record pace, and should have a good run in the series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies boast having the superstar studs that get you championships. With stars such as Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels, it's a who's who of the NL. They can launch with the best, and may have a better pitching staff. But barely.
Here's my unknowledged opinion based on per position.
1B - Philadelphia - Ryan Howard Tampa Bay - Carlos Pena EDGE - Philadelphia. Ryan Howard is Mr. Longball. Where Carlos may have the edge in playing 1st base, it's still important to remember that defense contains a game, and offense wins game. Nothing against Carlos Pena, but he's no Ryan Howard.
2B - Philadelphia - Chase Utley Tampa Bay - Akinori Iwamura EDGE - Philadelphia. Chase Utley is Mr. World at the plate and in the field. Akinori is no slouch, nothing to be downtrodden on, but it's still not Chase Utley. I'm sorry.
SS - Philadelphia - Jimmy Rollins Tampa Bay - Jason Bartlett. EDGE - Philadelphia. Again, Jimmy Rollins is a MVP threat yearly, and has backed up his bold predictions. Bartlett can smile knowing he's the SS of the future.
3B - Philadelphia - Pedro Feliz Tampa Bay - Evan Longoria. EDGE - Tampa Bay. Evan Longoria is putting the "Long" part of his name to good use. He's doing great in the field, and does even better at the plate. I can't see why anyone would doubt that this kid is for real. Sorry Phillies phans. Not happening at 3rd base.
C - Philadelphia - Carlos Ruiz Tampa Bay - Dioner Navarro. EDGE - Tampa Bay. Dioner can throw out base stealers, keep the ball behind the plate, and hit well too. That's a tough hit spot to be in if you're the catcher's area. Carlos may have things Dioner doesn't, but then that's why they play the game.
P - STARTING PITCHING - Philadelphia - Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick. Tampa Bay - Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Andy Sonnenstein, Matt Garza. EDGE - Tampa Bay. Even though Hamels is a shut down pitcher, I think the variables will edge in the starting pitching.
P - RELIEVERS/CLOSER - EDGE - Tampa Bay. Having the ability to go to David Price without a worry is what the Phillies should worry about. Sure, Brad Lidge is a great closer, but so's Dan Wheeler. I just think the weapons in the Rays' pen is what makes them better.
LF - Philadelphia - Pat Burrell Tampa Bay - Carl Crawford. EDGE - Philadelphia. Crawford's a centerfielder in the left field position. His bat and stolen bases are more valuable to the Rays then Burrell is to the Phillies. Crawford has a cannon arm. He can steal... Dare I say more
CF - Philadelphia - Shane Victorino Tampa Bay - BJ Upton. EDGE - Tampa Bay. BJ Upton is proving to people that he's what they thought he would be. Speedy, powerful, great glove, good fielder and cannon of an arm. If it came down to vocal leadership, Victorino would ege him out.
RF - Philadelphia - Jayson Worth Tampa Bay - Rocco Baldelli or Gabe Gross. Unfortuantely, it's a push. Gabe Gross is the weak link of the Tampa Bay Outfield, but does what is needed to allow the others to do better. Rocco is better, but that mitocondrial disease he has doesn't let him play as often as he'd like. If you ask me, it's definitely a push.
OFFENSE - EDGE - Philadelphia. Bigger bats in the lineup, more consistancy, and that been-there-done-that abilities of them. The Rays can homer better, but getting runners on base is the key.
DEFENSE - EDGE - Tampa Bay. With Longoria and 2/3 outfielders awesome, it's hard to discount the rays. Sure, Rollins and Utley are gold-glove calibur players, but when you're throwing to Ryan Howard, it's hit or miss. The outfield doesn't boast the arms of the Rays.
MANAGER - EDGE - Tampa Bay. Joe Maddon should get props from taking this rag-tag bunch of losers, and turning them into a World Series Participant. Something Lou Pinella couldn't do. He took 9 and made them 1. Showing bucks don't buy championships. Hint hint Yankees.
WORLD SERIES PREDICTION: Tampa Bay 4 Philadelphia 1...