The Mount Rushmore of the Tampa Bay Rays

Carl Crawford / Presswire

Following on Graham’s original post (which itself expands on an idea tweeted by Buster Olney), I’ve decided to go through baseball’s 30 teams and talk about who might be on each team’s Mount Rushmore.

Much like the real Mount Rushmore, the criteria used for selecting the 4 honorees isn’t totally straightforward. Just like with presidents, it’s tough to rate who was “best” in any measurable way, and similarly tough to figure who was most well-liked, most important, or most influential.

I’m also going to run down these teams in reverse order of length of franchise existence, so the first few are going to be toughest. You’ll see what I mean right away when we look at the Tampa Bay Rays.






Here are the top 15 batters for the Rays ranked by career WAR:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Carl Crawford 33.2 2002 2010
2 Evan Longoria 27.6 2008 2012
3 Ben Zobrist 21.3 2006 2012
4 Carlos Pena 16.5 2007 2012
5 Julio Lugo 12.7 2003 2006
6 B.J. Upton 11.2 2004 2012
7 Jason Bartlett 10.4 2008 2010
8 Aubrey Huff 10.2 2000 2006
9 Rocco Baldelli 8.6 2003 2010
10 Fred McGriff 7.8 1998 2004
11 Sean Rodriguez 6.8 2010 2012
12 Randy Winn 6.4 1998 2002
13 Akinori Iwamura 5.7 2007 2009
14 Matthew Joyce 5.5 2009 2012
15 Toby Hall 4.6 2000 2006
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/14/2012.

When you get down to guys like Randy Winn and Toby Hall on your top 15, you know it’s slim pickings.

Anyway, from this list, Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria stand out right away as good candidates for the Ray’s Rushmore.

Here is the same list for pitchers:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Scott Kazmir 15.3 2004 2009
2 James Shields 14.8 2006 2012
3 David Price 9.0 2008 2012
4 Matt Garza 7.7 2008 2010
5 Rolando Arrojo 6.2 1998 1999
6 Tanyon Sturtze 5.2 2000 2002
7 Roberto Hernandez 4.7 1998 2000
8 Jeremy Hellickson 4.6 2010 2012
9 Victor Zambrano 4.4 2001 2004
10 Albie Lopez 4.2 1998 2001
11 Jim Mecir 3.9 1998 2000
12 Wilson Alvarez 3.7 1998 2002
13 Grant Balfour 3.5 2007 2010
14 Rick White 3.4 1998 2000
15 Lance Carter 3.2 2002 2005
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/14/2012.

Uh oh. With Scott Kazmir’s rapid demise as a quality pitcher, it’s tough to imagine selecting him, until we take a step back and realize that he was the first true ace pitcher this franchise ever had, and he did win a lot of games for the Rays during their dark period.

James Shields, as one of the top pitchers now, has to be in consideration too, as does David Price.

I think it’s also worth looking at 2008, when the Rays made it to the World Series. Their leader on offense that year was Carlos Pena, and he deserves a nomination. Troy Percival was also a big part of that team but had such a short overall tenure with the Rays that I can’t even put him on the list.

Ben Zobrist has actually had the two single-best seasons by WAR in franchise history, so let’s put him in the mix.

Let’s have a poll. You can choose any 4 players to put in the Ray’s Mount Rushmore.

21 thoughts on “The Mount Rushmore of the Tampa Bay Rays

  1. 1
    ajnrules says:

    why is it that only players are eligible. Joe Maddon would be a fine choice for these Rays.

  2. 3
    Tristram12 says:

    Pena is the HR leader by a wide stretch, and adding to it. Longoria is the most productive. Crawford leads in so many categories. The fourth is the hardest. What about B.J. Upton? He’s second in games played and first in,um…,um…strikeouts?

  3. 4
    brp says:

    I voted for Ben Zobrist because I think he represents the Maddon-led tenure of the Rays as well as any player. To me I think the Mount Rushmore should only be for players, otherwise Maddon is definitely one of the top guys. Carlos Pena indeed has a long tenure with TB but it would be like putting Richie Sexson on a team’s Mount Rushmore; he’s just played too many other places and really isn’t that good of a player either.

    Comedy Mount Rushmore of Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco, Fred McGriff, and Tony Saunders.

  4. 5
    David says:

    On behalf of all Mets fans, thanks for mentioning Kazmir and Victor Zambrano in such close proximity with their respective WAR.

  5. 6
    Brent says:

    Crawford, Longoria, Pena and Price (admittedly the last one is a little bit like picking Teddy Roosevelt in the 1920s, too soon to tell, but he seems like he will be worth putting on). I would replace Pena with Maddon if we are doing non-players.

  6. 7
    mosc says:

    How is this even close? There’s one guy that has been their foundation for years and may be the ONLY guy they will actually spend money to keep in the future. As he goes does the franchise.

  7. 8
    bstar says:

    I kinda think we should get it straight if we are going to do all 30 franchises about whether or not to include non-players such as managers, broadcasters, owners, etc. in these Mount Rushmores. Graham’s original idea was to include players only, and I didn’t vote for Maddon for that specific reason (otherwise I would have). I went with Longoria, Crawford, Zobrist, and Pena.

    • 12
      brp says:

      My tuppence I vote strongly against non-players because for most franchises it’s going to be tough narrowing it down to 6 or 7 guys, much less 4, and we don’t need player/mgr/owner/GM-types mucking it up.

  8. 9
    Tmckelv says:

    Longoria, Crawford, Maddon are my top 3. Then I wanted a pitcher and chose James Shields.

    If no manager allowed it would be a tough choice between Kazmir and Price for the 4th spot.

  9. 10
    Tmckelv says:

    “I’m also going to run down these teams in reverse order of length of franchise existence, so the first few are going to be toughest.”

    Actually I think the teams with the fewest reasonable candidates would be easier than teams that have been around over 100 years.

    I think it will be tougher choosing the Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Tigers, Giants, etc. Unless a team just happens to have exactly 4 people in their top tier.

    • 13
      Neil L. says:

      Tmckelv, I’ve missed you as a regular in HHS, at least compared to the old B-Ref blogs. Don’t be a stranger.

      I have to agree with you that the youngest franchises, not the oldest, will be the easiest to pick the top four stone carvings for.

      • 17
        Tmckelv says:

        Thanks Neil. I guess it has been harder to keep up the last few weeks. Must re-prioritize to spend more time on HHS. 🙂

  10. 11
    seth says:

    The Rays are the only club that I can see putting a manager ahead of a player for that fourth spot. A decade from now, that may change, but right now Maddon is who I think of first when Tampa is mentioned.

  11. 16
    Shping says:

    Non-players should be eligible, but rare. In some cases, it’s definitely appropriate and more interesting, if we’re recognizing the best/most influential that franchises have to offer.

    McGraw, Scully, Uecker, maybe even Veeck, Harwell, Finley, and in this case, Maddon? — all these guys are “faces of the franchise” who did a heckuva lot for their teams in terms of ticket sales, newspaper sales, influence, symbolism in general, the guys your grandparents always talked about, sometimes even winning games, longevity, etc.

    The downside, of course, is that it makes it infinitely more difficult, esp. for the older teams. As much as i hate to take up two valuable Dodger spots with Scully and LaSorda, i feel you almost have to. That’s all part of the fun debate.

    But i do think we should try to limit the faces to 4; none of this bending the rules with 4+1 stuff. We have serious work to do gentlemen 🙂

    • 18
      Hartvig says:

      I would argue that except for maybe McGraw and Connie Mack no manager has been as much the “face” of the franchise as Casey Stengel was for the early Mets. With the exception of Tom Seaver no one individual has been associated with the franchise for as long as he was. Until the Miracle Mets came along when you thought about the Mets he was the first name that came to mind even long after he had left. Daryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden, Gary Carter- none left as long lasting legacy as ol’ Casey.

      Besides, can you just imagine a 60 foot high image of that lovable mug of his?

      • 20
        Shping says:

        Great example(s) Hartvig!

        And speaking of lovable, but not exactly handsome, mugs, imagine this Mets all-manager (all-ugly) monument: Stengel, Berra, Torre and maybe Johnson (or even Oscar Madison). Just might be the mugliest monument ever!

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