Rays Enter Select Group By Making LCS And Boasting Top Farm System
The Rays have a chance to join a very select group.
Tampa Bay entered this season as Baseball America’s No. 1 farm system, according to our Organizational Talent Rankings. And now, the Rays are in the League Championship Series.
That already puts them in a reasonably rare class.
Baseball America has been ranking farm systems for 37 years (going back to 1984). In the 36 seasons where there have been playoffs (the 1994 postseason was canceled), 16 times has our No. 1 farm system made the playoffs.
So making the playoffs as our top farm system happens pretty routinely, and with the expanded playoffs of recent years, eight of those 16 times have come in the past decade.
But only 10 teams with the No. 1 farm system have made it to the League Championship Series that same year. The 2020 Rays join the 2016 Dodgers, 2015 Cubs, 2013 Cardinals, 2008 Rays, 2005 Angels, 1999 Braves, 1995 Braves, 1993 Blue Jays and 1992 Braves.
If the Rays beat the Astros, they could become the sixth team to make it to the World Series in the year they ranked No. 1. The 2013 Cardinals, 2008 Rays, 1999 Braves, 1995 Braves and the 1993 Blue Jays all did so.
And if they win it all, the Rays could become the third team to win the World Series in a year they ranked No. 1. The 1995 Braves and 1993 Blue Jays both hoisted the World Series trophy in the same year they ranked No. 1.
The Rays have certainly gotten some help from that No. 1 farm system this year. Outfielder Randy Arozarena has been one of the team's stars this postseason. Outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, righthander Peter Fairbanks and lefthander Josh Fleming all have contributed as well and 23-year-old lefty Shane McClanahan has joined the postseason roster. But Tampa Bay has plenty of further help on the way, including baseball's No. 1 prospect, shortstop Wander Franco.
This current Braves club could also help keep an impressive run going. From 2007-2016, seven of the 10 No. 1 farm systems made the World Series within four seasons of ranking No. 1. The 2007 and 2008 Rays (2008), 2009 Rangers (2010 and 2011), 2011 Royals (2014 and 2015), 2013 Cardinals (2013), 2015 Cubs (2016) and 2016 Dodgers (2017 and 2018) all made the World Series soon after ranking No. 1 in our farm system rankings.
The Braves ranked first in 2017 and 2018, so a 2020 World Series appearance would add two more No. 1 rankings to that list. A Braves-Rays World Series would ensure that the No. 1 farm system in three of the last four years was represented in the World Series.
The only recent No. 1 not represented in the LCS are the Padres, who ranked No. 1 in 2019. They were knocked out in the Division Series this year, but are a solid bet to get several more shots to make the World Series in the next few seasons.