In this fledgling MLB season, no team has come out of the gate faster than the Rays.

The AL East squad has swept its first four series to move to 13-0 on the season, tied for the best mark of all time. And the Rays are doing it in absolutely dominant fashion, outscoring opponents 101-30. They’re now tied with the 1982 Braves and 1987 Brewers for the best start in MLB history.

It would be an oversight to talk about the Rays’ start without addressing their schedule — they started their season against the Tigers, Nationals, Athletics, and Red Sox, all of whom have struggled out of the gate. However, some of those struggles are attributed to just playing a team as hot as the Rays. Plus, Tampa Bay can only play the teams on the schedule, and in a game as susceptible to flukes as baseball, to not suffer one loss yet is extremely impressive.

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It’s fair to say they’re feeling themselves.

There are no caveats to the Rays right now. They’re playing incredible baseball.

Best starts in MLB history

With their 9-3 win against the Red Sox on Thursday, the Rays have tied the best start in MLB history, joining two teams from the 1980s: The 1982 Braves and the 1987 Brewers.

It should be noted, early success isn’t always the best thing. It didn’t work out so well for either of those teams in the long run: The Braves were swept by the Cardinals in the NLCS and the Brewers didn’t make the postseason.)

This Rays team has depth. Its pitching staff is lights-out and the offense leads the league with 32 home runs. There may be no such thing as a perfect start, but this team comes close.

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Here are the longest undefeated streaks to start a season in MLB history, and how those teams fared over the course of the season.

YearTeamStarting StreakFinal RecordResult
1982Atlanta Braves13-089-731st in NL East, lost 3-0 to Cardinals in NLCS
1987Milwaukee Brewers13-091-713rd in AL East, missed postseason
2023Tampa Bay Rays13-0TBDTBD
1981*Oakland Athletics11-037-23; 27-221st & 2nd in AL West, lost 3-0 to Yankees in ALCS
1955Brooklyn Dodgers10-098-551st in NL, defeated Yankees 4-3 in World Series
1962Pittsburgh Pirates10-093-634th in NL, missed postseason
1966Cleveland Indians10-081-815th in AL, missed postseason
1918New York Giants9-071-532nd in NL, missed postseason
1940Brooklyn Dodgers9-088-652nd in NL, missed postseason
1944St. Louis Browns9-089-651st in AL, lost World Series 4-2 to Cardinals
1984 Detroit Tigers9-0104-581st in AL East, won World Series 4-1 vs. Padres
1990Cincinnati Reds9-091-711st in NL West, won World Series 4-0 vs. Athletics
2003Kansas City Royals9-083-793rd in AL Central, missed postseason

* – Season split by player strike

It goes without saying that it’s an extremely long season, but what the Rays are doing is impressive regardless of the results of teams past. Plus, many of these winning streaks came when the game was so different, it’s impossible to draw meaningful conclusions from them.

Rays’ unbeaten streak by the numbers

32 home runs

The Rays lead MLB with 32 home runs, eight more than the second-place Dodgers. Brandon Lowe now leads the way with five home runs after hitting another one Thursday, with Wander Franco and Yandy Diaz right behind him at four.

Ten players have multiple home runs through these 12 games, and that leads into the next stat:

30 runs allowed

The Rays have two more home runs than runs allowed.

While it won’t stay like that all season, the pitching staff has been incredible. Even with Tyler Glasnow still on the IL, the Rays have a 2.23 team ERA, with 122 strikeouts and 79 hits allowed. Those are the stats of a closer spread over an entire staff.

The Rays’ top four starters — Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, Jeffrey Springs and Zach Eflin — are a combined 9-0 with a 1.36 ERA. Only Josh Fleming scuffled, and that was as an opener. He was replaced by Jalen Beeks for Monday’s start against the Red Sox in what turned out to be a piggyback outing — both pitched, allowing two hits between them across six shutout innings. 

And the rich got richer Wednesday: rookie Taj Bradley pitched decently in his debut (five innings, three earned runs, eight strikeouts) in place of the injured Eflin. He’ll likely get better.

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Plus-71 run differential

There’s no more telling stat for the Rays than their run differential. They aren’t just winning; they’re dominating.

Tampa Bay has scored 101 runs and allowed 30. To put that into context, there hadn’t been a team with a run differential of plus-50 through nine games since 1884. Only the St. Louis Maroons and New York Gothams posted a better differential.

Of all of the mind-boggling stats, this is the most boggling.

Eflin made an immediate impact on the rotation before going on the IL, with a 3.27 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 11 innings over two starts. Lowe has been outstanding after a lower back injury shortened his 2022 season. Jose Siri (now on the IL) and Manuel Margot have eased the offseason loss of Kevin Kiermaier in center field.

Rays upcoming schedule

The Rays completed their sweep against the Red Sox. After Thursday’s finale, they head north to take on the Blue Jays in Toronto in a three-game series.

April 14Toronto Blue JaysDrew Rasmussen vs. Jose Berrios
April 15Toronto Blue JaysTBD vs. Yusei Kikuchi
April 16Toronto Blue JaysShane McClanahan vs. Alek Manoah

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