The Tampa Bay Rays are known as a pitching factory. They have an ability to seemingly churn out arms at any point in time, stockpiling their farm system with impressive talent. The Rays are also known for their ability to turn mediocrity into dominance, taking unheralded arms off the scrap heap and turning them into stars.
But there is something else that the Rays are starting to be known for. There has been a perceived endemic of Tommy John procedures in the organization, with ten different pitchers since 2020 going under the knife. Reliever Nick Anderson also tore his UCL but opted against TJS.
Tommy John surgeries not as prevalent with Tampa Bay Rays as thought
Part of the reason for all of these procedures could just be the Rays’ spending habits. Their quest for bargains has involved targeting players with some perceived flaw, injuries being one of those. The likes of Tyler Glasnow have plenty of talent, but could be considered Faberge as well. But that also just fits the narrative.
If one digs deeper, the Rays are not even close to the leader in Tommy John surgeries thus far in this decade. Nine teams have 15 or more pitchers that have undergone the procedure this decade. The Padres, Mets, and Guardians each have more than 20 pitchers to have TJS. In fact, the Guardians lead the league with 25 pitchers that have gone under the knife. Makes the Rays ten look a lot better.
The Rays also do not have close to the most procedures in franchise history. According to MLBPlayerAnalys on Twitter, the Rays have had 70 recorded procedures in the history of their organization, a relatively low number comparatively. Seven teams, meanwhile, have had over 90 players undergo TJS, with the Rangers leading the pack with 106.
In the Rays case, this reputation appears to stem from confirmation bias. They snag a player off the scrap heap, turn them into a star, and fans wait for the worst to happen. When it does, and that player gets injured, it adds fuel to the fire. The problem is that the facts do not fit the narrative.
The Tampa Bay Rays have a reputation for their pitchers needing Tommy John surgery. Facts do not back that reputation at all.