For the Rays, it's their first division title since 2010 and the third in franchise history. It's the first time since 2015 that a team other than the Yankees or Red Sox have won the AL East. Last week, the Rays clinched a spot in the expanded 16-team postseason, and the capstone on their regular season would be securing top overall seed in the AL. Right now they have a multi-game lead over the White Sox, Twins, and A's for that top spot.
The Rays, despite running basement-level payrolls in recent years, have enjoyed a highly successful three-year run. In 2018, they missed the postseason but logged 90 wins during the regular season. In 2019, the Rays under Kevin Cash won 96 games and claimed a wild card berth. After winning the Wild Card Game over the A's, they pushed the Astros to the full five games in the ALDS. Right now, they're 37-20, which across the usual 162-game regular season would translate to a 105-win pace. This October, the Rays will seeking their second pennant and first World Series title in franchise history.
The Rays have won with a balanced approach in 2020, as the offense ranked fourth in the AL in runs scored, and the pitching staff and defense teamed up to rank fifth in the AL in runs allowed. Tampa Bay survived a number of serious injuries to their pitching staff in 2020 and thus far have had 12 different pitchers make starts. That roster depth figures to serve them well in the upcoming playoffs.
In the best-of-three first round, which affords favorites little margin for error for favorites like Tampa Bay, they're in line to face the division rival Blue Jays. During the regular season, the Rays went 6-4 against Toronto.