10. Tampa Bay Rays (43–41, plus-18, LT: 10)
Here’s another stat you never would have imagined at the start of the season: The Tampa Bay Rays rank second in the majors in home runs.
Part of what makes that fact so weird is just the makeup of the team’s lineup. Other than Evan Longoria, the Rays didn’t have any proven, consistent sluggers on the roster. Unless you counted Corey Dickerson, who hit 24 homers in two of the past three seasons heading into this year, two of which came as a member of the Rockies, then the Rays appeared light on power. Modest power pedigree aside, the Rays’ bopper brigade has exploded this season, with Longoria somehow ranking just fourth on the club in homers. Breakouts by Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr. you could have maybe seen coming, given their age (both 28 years old, around the time many players hit their power prime) and their power profiles.
But it’s Logan Morrison’s out-of-nowhere breakout that’s been the real shocker. Only Aaron Judge has launched more homers this season than Morrison’s 24. This for a player whose previous career high for a full season was 23, way back in 2011. There’s nothing fancy going on here, other than the balls being juiced (no matter what kind of non-denial denials Major League Baseball might circulate to sympathetic reporters), and Morrison tapping into the swing-for-the-fences approach that’s woven its way through the sport. Never a huge flyball hitter, Morrison’s suddenly skying flyballs more than 46% of the time, with more than one-quarter of those flyballs sailing over the fence.
That Morrison and his Rays mates have pulled off this power barrage while playing in a home park that’s one of the least conducive to homers makes the feat all the more remarkable. And if you somehow predicted the daily double of the Rays sitting second in the majors in homers and leading the race for the AL’s second wild-card spot just past the halfway point of the season, I have many follow-up questions to ask, all of them involving the mysterious disappearance of Grays Sports Almanac.