Top 10 Best Tampa Bay Rays Players of All Time
Originally the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Tampa Bay Rays have experienced all variety of highs and lows since their founding in 1998. The Rays have found success in the playoffs with two World Series appearances and eight total trips to their playoffs. Much of this success is due to the many talented players whom the team has rostered over the years. These ten players are the best to have ever put on a Tampa Bay Rays jersey.
Who Are the Best Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Players of All Time?
- Evan Longoria
- Carl Crawford
- Ben Zobrist
- Kevin Kiermaier
- David Price
- Carlos Peña
- James Shields
- Scott Kazmir
- B.J. Upton
- Aubrey Huff
1. Evan Longoria
- 2008 AL Rookie of the Year
- Three-time All-Star
- Three Gold Gloves
Evan Longoria is the most iconic player to ever put on a Tampa Bay Rays jersey. Not only did Longoria play for the team for 10 seasons (2008-2017), he did so in excellent fashion. Longoria played third base for the team where he won three Gold Glove awards and a Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013. He also won a Fielding Bible award for his excellent play at the hot corner.
On the offensive side of the ball, Longoria was just as good. He won a Silver Slugger award in 2009 and has hit a career total of 331 home runs. In his debut season in the Major Leagues, Longoria won the AL Rookie of the Year award thanks to his 27 home runs and 85 RBIs. He was also an integral part of the roster, which brought the Rays to the World Series that year, although they ultimately lost to the Phillies.
2. Carl Crawford
- Four-time All-Star
- 2010 Gold Glove
- 2010 Silver Slugger
Carl Crawford played for the Rays between 2002 and 2010, and in doing so, set the standard for five-tool players around the league. Crawford could do it all. He was a tremendous hitter who finished his MLB career with a .290 average with 766 RBIs. Additionally, Crawford was a strong defensive player at left field, having won a Gold Glove in 2010.
Perhaps his most valuable asset, however, was his speed. Crawford was simply blazing fast on the base paths. In his first full season in the MLB, Crawford led the entire league in stolen bases with 55. He would also bat .281 with 54 RBIs that season. Crawford would go on to lead the Majors in stolen bases in three more seasons after 2003 (2004, 2006, and 2007). By the end of his professional career, Crawford racked up 480 stolen bases. He was truly one of the most exciting players to ever play in Tampa.
3. Ben Zobrist
- Three-time All-Star
- 768 career RBIs
- Led the MLB in WAR in 2009 and 2011
Ben Zobrist was one of the more reliable players to ever play for the Tampa Bay Rays, spending nine seasons with the team between 2006 and 2014. He played a few different positions in that time including shortstop, second base, and in the outfield. He was tremendously flexible and dependable on defense. Over the course of his career in the MLB, Zobrist has made it to three All-Star Games (2009, 2013, and 2016).
In the 2009 season, Zobrist led all batters in wins above replacement (WAR) with 8.6. The metric is often used for MVP voting, with the MVP award often being given to the person with the highest WAR. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for Zobrist in 2009, or in 2011 when he led the majors in the category for a second time. Regardless, it proved just how much of an impact he had on each and every ball game.
4. Kevin Kiermaier
- Three Gold Gloves
- 2015 Platinum Glove winner
- Lifetime Rays member
Kevin Kiermaier began his epic baseball career in Tampa Bay with the Rays in 2013, and he ended it with the team in 2022 when he retired from professional baseball. In his time with the team, Kiermaier played center field and consistently flashed true defensive excellence, winning three Gold Glove awards (2015, 2016, 2019). He was also awarded a Platinum Glove award for his above-and-beyond outfield play in 2015.
On the other side of the ball, Kiermaier maintained a lifetime average of .248 and hit 82 home runs in the process along with 316 RBIs. He also stole 112 bases over the course of his career with the team. As such, he retired as one of the most well-rounded Rays players of all time. And without a doubt, his excellence in center field makes him one of the best defensive players in the history of the franchise.
5. David Price
- 2012 AL Cy Young winner
- Five-time All-Star
- 3.32 career ERA
David Price is the best player to ever pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays. When Price stepped onto the mound, he was simply electric. He began his career in professional baseball with the Rays in 2008 and stayed on with the team until 2014 when he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Price perhaps found the peak of his career in 2012 when was given the AL Cy Young Award for his spectacular efforts on the mound. That season saw him lead the American League in both wins (20) and ERA (2.56).
Some of Price’s other notable seasons with the team included his last in Tampa, in 2014, in which he led the MLB in strikeouts with an eye-popping 271. The 2010 season, which resulted in one of his five All-Star appearances, saw him win 19 games while maintaining a 2.72 ERA and finishing second in Cy Young voting.
6. Carlos Peña
- 2009 All-Star
- 2007 Silver Slugger
- 2007 AL Comeback Player of the Year
Carlos Peña began his career in the Major Leagues in 2001, and by the time of his retirement in 2014, he had played for eight different teams. Peña only played for the Tampa Bay Rays between 2007 and 2010, and again for one more season, but those years were far and away the best of his career.
Peña’s career before 2007 was largely mediocre with brief flashes of brilliance, but once he was traded to Tampa Bay in 2007, things changed drastically. Peña had a truly monster season that year, hitting for a .282 average, 46 home runs, and 121 RBIs. This led to him being named the AL Comeback Player of the Year and was granted a Silver Slugger award as well. Peña would go on to win a Gold Glove in 2008 and be voted to an All-Star Game in 2009 thanks to a massive offensive season which saw him lead the AL in home runs.
7. James Shields
- 2011 All-Star
- 246 strikeouts in 2010
- 4.01 lifetime ERA
James Shields was a starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays between 2006 and 2012. Shields began his career in professional baseball with the team and had the best years of his career with them. He was an incredibly durable starting pitcher and started over 30 games for the Rays in every season of his career with the team except for the first. For the first few years of his career, Shields had varying levels of success, but normally kept his ERA in the upper 3s or lower 4s.
In 2011, however, things changed. Shields’ performance on the mound became something else entirely. His ERA plummeted to a miniscule 2.82 and he struck out a respectable 195 batters over the course of the season. What’s most impressive about his 2011 season, though, was the fact that he pitched 11 complete games, four of which were shutouts. This led Shields to his only All-Star Game of his career.
8. Scott Kazmir
- Three-time All-Star
- 2007 AL strikeout leader
- 1,618 career strikeouts
Scott Kazmir was one of the best starting pitchers to ever appear on a Tampa Bay Rays roster. Kazmir played six seasons with the team between 2004 and 2009. In that time, he set a high standard for the other starting pitchers on the team. In his six years with the team, Kazmir kept his ERA to only 3.92 and struck out 874 batters. As of the start of the 2023 season, Kazmir has totaled 1,618 total career strikeouts. Kazmir was voted to three All-Star Games during his time in the MLB, two of which were during his career with the Rays (2006 and 2009).
Additionally, in 2007, Kazmir led the American League in strikeouts with a more-than-respectable 239. In his 2006 season, Kazmir had a record of 10-8 and kept his ERA at a very low 3.24. In fact, four of his seasons with the Rays saw Kazmir post an ERA below 4.00.
9. B.J. Upton
- 40+ stolen bases in three consecutive seasons
- Eight seasons with the Rays
- 300 stolen bases total
B.J. Upton began his career in the MLB with Tampa Bay in 2004 and spent almost a decade with them as a dynamic central fielder. He would then play for the team until 2012. Along the way, Upton would prove himself in terms of serious speed on the basepaths. With the Rays, Upton compiled three seasons in which he stole more than 40 bases (2008, 2009, 2010).
By the time Upton hung up the cleats on a long and fruitful MLB career after the 2016 season, he had amassed 300 total stolen bases. 232 of these stolen bases came during his time with the Rays, which were likely the best years of his career. In his time with the team, Upton averaged a .255 batting average and 118 home runs. Likely his best season was in 2007, in which he hit 24 home runs and maintained a .300 batting average.
10. Aubrey Huff
- Lifetime .272 hitter
- 242 total home runs
- 904 career RBIs
Aubrey Huff began his career with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2000 and played six full seasons with the team until he was traded to the Houston Astros midway through the 2006 season. Huff was a well-rounded player who could hit for both power and average. His time with the Rays saw him do both quite well. He hit 128 home runs with the team which are a solid chunk of his 242 total career home runs.
Over the course of his career, Huff hit for a .272 batting average. His career with the Rays, however, saw him hit for a .287 average. Huff’s time in Tampa was arguably the best era of his career. He had a particularly solid season in 2003 in which he hit for a .311 average, 34 home runs, and he drilled 107 RBIs along the way. The following season he would hit 29 home runs with a .297 batting average.
- Rocco Baldelli
- Jason Bartlett
- Wade Boggs
- Alex Cobb
- Matt Garza
- Matt Joyce
- Julio Lugo
- Fred McGriff
- Matt Moore
- Fernando Rodney
Who is the best Tampa Bay Rays player of all time?
Evan Longoria is the best player to ever play for the Tampa Bay Rays. He played for the team for 10 seasons and was the epitome of excellence in the time. He was practically perfect on defense as evidenced by his three Gold Gloves and a Defensive Player of the Year. He was AL Rookie of the Year and a Silver Slugger. Over the course of his career, Longoria made three All-Star Games and was the absolute core of the Rays team for as long as he played for them.
Which Tampa Bay Rays player holds the record for most home runs?
As of 2023, Evan Longoria holds the record for most home runs with the Tampa Bay Rays with 261. He has nearly a hundred more home runs than the runner up, Carlos Peña, who hit 163 with the team. The list goes on with Aubrey Huff in third place with 128, B.J. Upton in fourth with 118, and Ben Zobrist after that with 114. Despite being a young franchise, the Rays have a tradition of rostering solid power hitters.