I wanted to take a quick look at a couple of things that can help us Rays fans put the season thus far in perspective. First, let's take a look at the the Rays' strength of schedule thus far:
These are the 10-game moving averages based on the initial Vegas O/U lines established in February (red line) and the adjusted wining percentage for the Rays opponents based on the Baseball-Prospectus playoff probabilities. This gives a good idea of strong and weak points in the Rays schedule and should prove useful for comparing how they've played with how you'd expect them to play based on competition.
The Rays are coming off a period that saw a low spot around mid-May followed by steadily increasing competition. They're now going to go through a brief respite before climbing back up the mountain. I've maintained since February that if the Rays can manage to keep it tight that they will have an excellent chance to go on a run once August rolls around. Think of it like this, the Rays are currently eight games above .500. If they can get that to around 10 games above .500 going into August, and then reel off something like a 20-10ish record, then you're looking at a 92 win team. Every win they can bank before then helps that even more before what should prove to be an extremely difficult finish to the season. Let's take a look at where they've been:
The solid line that corresponds with the left-hand axis shows a 10 game moving average of winning percentage, while the dotted line looks at a 10 game moving average of run differential. Readily apparent is just how amazing the Rays were playing earlier in the year. You'll notice, secondarily, the drop off to basically a .500 team following the run of injuries. It's unlikely that the Rays will be as good as they were over that long of a stretch as they were earlier, but it's extremely encouraging to know that at their worst this year they've basically been a .500 team. Getting Jennings, Longoria, Keppinger, etc. back will help boost the team back above the level of mediocrity that they've been stuck at, and boy, I can't wait.