The Tampa Bay Rays were on the brink of winning the World Series a couple of years ago, but their team has drastically changed. Blake Snell, Kevin Kiermaier, and Joey Wendle departed from the Rays. Even if the key cogs from the 2020 World Series are gone, the Rays’ front office knows how to formulate a 25-man active roster to compete for the World Series.

The pitching and defense will be Tampa Bay’s main factors, so that it will start with Shane McClanahan and Drew Rasmussen. These pitchers will jumpstart their success in the tough AL East and must rely on that immensely. Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena must be higher than All-Star players if they want to go deep into the postseason.

Keeping the score low and stealing it at the end will be the springboard for Tampa Bay, as the three reasons for their dark horse journey of claiming the 2023 World Series starts here.

Wander Franco will be a top MVP candidate

Wander Franco had a down year in 2022 by his standards. He played for only half the season by contributing six homers, 33 RBI, and a batting average of .277. That is far from his capabilities, and it is paramount for him to become one of the best shortstops in baseball. The elite plate discipline is his primary asset of Franco as it will result in a plethora of opportunities for him to put the ball in play.