TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The Rays have backed up all of their talk coming out of spring training in the first half of the season.
"I don't think any of us are really surprised," said Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe. "Like you said, everybody coming out of spring training knew what we were capable of doing."
Brandon Lowe has led the way. He has put up team leading numbers that have him as the front-runner for the American League rookie of the year.
The Rays front office deserves all the credit. They locked up Lowe to a six year, $24 million extension back in March. He only had two months of major league experience.
"I think it was one of those things where they said we might want to do something because this guy might take off," said Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. "So it was a great deal for both ends."
Even while leading the Rays with 16 home runs, Lowe has a different high light for the first half of the season.
"The All-Star Game is a pretty good one," smiled Lowe.
The Rays reached 50 wins in 86 games. That is the third fastest in franchise history. The two other teams who accomplished the feat both made the playoffs. This includes the 2008 team that took it all the way to the World Series.
"If they won 50 back in the day, and they went to the postseason, I think we can make that happen too," said infielder Willy Adames.
"We're in good company," said Lowe. "Everybody in this locker room believes that we can do it. We're going to hopefully keep going out there and showing people that we are a legit team."
Computer projections have the Rays finishing with 92 victories and a 70% chance of making the playoffs.
"This is the best, most talented team I've ever been on," recalled Kiermaier. "You mix that with the camaraderie we have 1 through 25 depending on who we call up. It's a joy to be a part of, it really is."
The Rays believe they can be better and finding a reliable closer that can be counted on could be the one piece that secures their first postseason berth since 2013.