Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon likes to say we can’t run away from our DNA when talking about his team. Pitching and defense are the Rays DNA. That was until we got 60+ games into the 2012 season, and the defense came up missing. The New York Yankees have borrowed the Rays DNA and sit atop the American League East.
The Yankees have missing 27 errors in 68 games played. That not only leads the American League, it leads all of Major League Baseball.The Rays have committed 60 errors in 69 games. That is not only last in the American League, that is last in all of baseball.
For comparison, in 2011 the Rays led all of Major League Baseball, with only 73 errors committed for the entire season.
The Yankees are among the American League leaders in pitching and hitting. The fact that they are leading all of baseball defensively is going to make it very difficult for other teams to catch them. Team pitching and team hitting can run hot or cold. Team defense is more consistent, more likely to trend over the course of a season.
The Yankees have been trending since April, and this from a team with a shortstop, Derek Jeter, who is 37 years old, and supposedly has lost some range, and a third baseman Alex Rodriguez, with limited mobility. They have made just eight errors this season between them.
To be fair, the Rays have suffered through a never ending disabled list thus far in 2012. Getting Evan Longoria back will help, but is it going to be good enough? Longoria has played 23 games this year and in those games made 6 errors. That is not a positive trend.
The Rays may very well go into the All-Star break wondering where their DNA went, and they may need only to look up at the standings.