Are the Rays Really the Best Team in Baseball Right Now?

Experts are seeing a mix of factors

Tampa Bay Rays celebrating
Brandon Lowe #8 celebrates with Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays after hitting a home run in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox.
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

It’s a good time to be a Tampa Bay Rays fan right now. For that matter, it’s a good time to be a Tampa Bay Ray, period. The team in question has won their first 13 games, and that 13-0 record is a tie for the best start to a Major League Baseball season since 1901. Not surprisingly, this winning streak is currently the best record in baseball, and has the Rays firmly atop the AL East.

It all begs the question: is the season all but wrapped up already? Or is the Rays’ excellent streak a less-than-reliable indicator of how the rest of their season might go?

One group who don’t seem all that convinced are the data analysts at Fivethirtyeight. Their predictions for the season give the Rays a 42% chance of winning the AL East but have them ranked fifth-most-likely to win the World Series, behind the Dodgers, Braves, Yankees and Astros. It’s worth stating that the odds are relatively close — Fivethirtyeight gives the Dodgers and Braves an 11% chance, while the Rays come in at 8%.

At Forbes, Tyler Maher and Brian Pempus also advise caution. They’re exploring the Rays’ chances from a more betting-oriented position, and even if you’re not of a mindset to wager money on the conclusion of a season that’s still multiple months away, the points they make there are convincing. Maher and Pempus argue that a combination of factors accounts for the Rays’ strong start to their season, from a relatively easy schedule to a roster that hasn’t been dramatically affected by injuries.

Rays fans should take heart — none of this means that experts are forecasting doom for your team of choice. It does suggest that, as with any winning stream, the Rays’ one will come to an end eventually — but the odds for a noteworthy season are still there. But if you’re holding out hope for an unprecedented 162-0 record, you might want to rethink things slightly.

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