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MLB Predictions: Rays Season Wins Over/Under Odds

2009 Tampa Bay Rays Wins Predictions – Lines & Baseball Props

Tampa Bay Rays (2008 Record: 97-65, 1st place in AL East, AL Champions)

The Rays as a team were definitely one of the feel good stories of the year in 2008, riding a healthy mixture of youth and optimism all the way to the AL Pennant. Perennial bottom dwellers since their inception 10 years earlier, the ’08 Rays came out of the gate strong and never really looked back.While the rest of the big, bad AL East held its breath waiting for this squad of youngsters to trip and fall on their face down the stretch, the fish formerly known as Devils just continued to go about their business in a professional and confident manner. Taking a cue from skipper Joe Maddon’s motivational techniques and veterans like closer Troy Percival, Carl Crawford, and Cliff Floyd, the baby Rays stood strong in the face of the behemoths from Beantown and the Bronx. When it was all said and done, Tampa Bay was in the World Series with a roster averaging just 27 years old.

The Rays’ 2008 performance was not an aberration, an oddity, a fluke, or any other type of label for abnormality that the team’s detractors may try to place on them. This team is here to stay with a deep farm system in place to ensure that the years of sub-70 win totals in Tampa Bay are most certainly a thing of the past.

The experience and confidence that the Rays were able to gain last year, staving off the Red Sox down the stretch to win the AL East and then defeating those same Sox in a pressure packed 7-game ALCS, should serve them well heading into the ’09 campaign. These kids will no longer have the advantage of being able to sneak up on anyone, since they now have a huge bulls-eye on their backs as the defending AL champs. With the surprise factor gone, they’ll have to stay on their toes all the way through and avoid any type of complacency that winning a pennant can bring to a clubhouse.

On paper, the 2009 Rays actually appear to be a better team than last year’s Cinderella squad that amassed 97 regular season victories as well as 8 more in the playoffs. The young starting rotation is now a year older and a year wiser, reigning Rookie of the Year Evan Longoria should play at least 30 more games than in ’08, free agent acquisition and World Champion Pat Burrell should add consistent power at DH, and newcomer Matt Joyce has the potential to step on the scene in a big way as an everyday right fielder.

For the most part, the same cast of characters is returning for what Rays fans hope is an encore of last year’s dream season. The front of the rotation – featuring a solid quartet of James Shields, Anny Sonnanstine, Scott Kazmir, and Matt Garza – is back and was extremely reliable in ’08, averaging 30.5 starts apiece. The only change will be the absence of Edwin Jackson, who had an impressive year but was probably the least effective of the starting five. Traded to the Tigers for top prospect Joyce, Jackson will most likely be replaced by one of two former first-round draft picks. The first, David Price, pitched very well in a brief stint last year including a memorable postseason in which he put up a 1.59 ERA in 5 games. The second, 6’9″ Jeff Niemann, has had a fantastic Spring and is out of options, which gives him the upper hand to get the job based on roster flexibility alone. Another possibility is righty Jason Hammel, who has also opened eyes in several exhibition appearances this month.

In the bullpen, a very strong point of last year’s club, cagey vet Percival is back to close. He managed to save 28 games in an injury-riddled season, and setup man/closer Dan Wheeler was able to step in admirably in Troy’s absence by racking up 13 saves of his own. Workhorse Trever Miller is gone, but veteran Lance Cormier and ex-Marlin Joe Nelson, who carried a 2.00 ERA through 59 games in ’08, should fill in sufficiently. Lefty J.P. Howell and the fiery Grant Balfour will be hard-pressed to duplicate their tremendous 2008 campaigns, but I wouldn’t expect much of a downslide either. Former All-Star stopper Jason Isringhausen is also in camp with the team, and would add even more bullpen depth if he makes the cut.

Expect solid production from the lineup, with some added punch from perennial big bopper Burrell and a full season from Longoria. All-Star Dioner Navarro has proven to be a reliable hitter and will continue to grow behind the dish. Carlos Pena, who saw a significant dip in average last year, still has dangerous pop in his bat. The bench sports some flexible role players including Willy Aybar in the infield, Gabe Gross in the outfield, and veteran Gabe Kapler who is fresh off a one-year stint as manager of the Single-A Greenville Drive.
Defensively this team ranks right up there with the cream of the crop, with top-notch speed in the outfield and a reliable double-play tandem of Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura up the middle. Also, Pena’s Gold Glove at first hides a lot of mistakes from the rest of the infielders.

The Rays will be a tough opponent in 2009, possibly even tougher than last year. Unfortunately for them, with the exception of Toronto, the rest of the AL East has gotten tougher as well. After being home in October for the first time in 14 years, the Yankees retooled in a major way by signing three of the top free agents on the market in a headline-grabbing spending spree while the Red Sox made their own significant tweaks. Even the Orioles will field a marginally improved roster. Tampa Bay will be in the hunt for a playoff spot right up until the last week or two of the season, but may fall short of making it to the big dance. They will come close to, but will not match, their 97-win total of 2008. Look for the Rays to win 94 games in 2009.

2009 Tampa Bay Rays Wins Predictions:

Bet Online Over/Under: Over/Under 89 1/2 Wins (-115/-115)

Scott’s Prediction: 94 Wins


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  1. Rays to repeat. You heard it here first.

  2. Alright man, good to hear it. They looked great last year and are a fun team to watch, thanks for the comment

  3. I think the Rays will compete for the AL East Pennant , but it remains to be seen how well the retooled Yankees will play. I like Boston to win the East, and I have Tampa and New York battling for the Wild Card.