The Tampa Bay Rays completed the first half of their 2023 season Sunday afternoon and, by most accounts, it’s been a highly successful first half. Under the leadership of team president Erik Neander and general manager Peter Bendix, the Rays stand 54-27 at the 81-game mark. They lead the challenging AL East by 4.5 games.
But how much of an impact have the moves made by the Rays’ leadership team of Neander and Bendix truly had on Tampa Bay’s dominance of the division? What follows is a mid-term assessment of the front office personnel decisions since the conclusion of the 2022 World Series with a particular focus on the extent to which those decisions have helped or hindered the Rays’ performance.
Grading the Tampa Bay Rays at the midway point of the season
The standard of measurement is Wins Above Average (WAA), a variant of Wins Above Replacement (WAR). For this purpose, WAA is preferable because unlike WAR, it is zero-based. That means the sum of all the decisions made by the Rays front office impacting the 2023 team gives at least a good estimate of the number of games those moves have improved (or worsened) the team’s status this season.
A team’s front office impacts that team’s standing in five ways. Those five are:
1. By the impact of players it acquires from other teams via trade, purchase or waiver claim.
2. By the impact of players it surrenders to other teams in those same transactions.
3. By the impact of players it signs at free agency or extends.
4. By the impact of players it loses to free agency or releases.
5. By the impact of players it promotes from its own farm system.
Here’s how the team of Neander and Bendix stack up by those five yardsticks.