Rays don't have a top five starting rotation.
That is according to David Schoenfield of ESPN's SweetSpot blog.
In full, he said under the "I can't believe I'm leaving these guys off" section:
The Rays led the AL with a 3.53 rotation ERA in 2011 and will be adding über-prospect Moore this year. That said, keep in mind: (A.) The Rays play in a pitcher-friendly ballpark; (B.) They have one of the best defenses in the majors to help out; (C.) Hellickson lived off an impossible-to-repeat BABIP of .224, the lowest average a starter has allowed since 1988; (D.) Shields was awesome with a 2.82 ERA, but he's also one season removed from leading the AL in hits and home runs allowed.
Such a weak argument to leave the Rays out of the Top 5. Let's break this down.
(A.) The Rays play in a pitcher-friendly ballpark;
So? I don't see you disqualifying other teams for this. The Angels which you, David, included at #2 also play in a pitcher friendly ballpark, according to this article. Yet you still ranked them. This argument is too weak to be given any credence.
(B.) They have one of the best defenses in the majors to help out;
Again, so what? A few of the teams you listed have great defensive players but you sill listed them. It's a crime to discount the talent of a group of pitchers because the defense behind them is one of the best. This just screams sour grapes to me.
(C.) Hellickson lived off an impossible-to-repeat BABIP of .224, the lowest average a starter has allowed since 1988;
You may have a point here, Hellboy will no doubt have another remarkable season in 2012 but it will be near impossible to repeat that BIABP. However, to discount his ability let alone the rest of the rotation based on this is again ridiculous.
(D.) Shields was awesome with a 2.82 ERA, but he's also one season removed from leading the AL in hits and home runs allowed.
Yes, Shields put on a performance in 2011 that will be extremely difficult to repeat. But it's not impossible, especially if he's figured out his stuff. Shields could conceivably repeat his performance, but it's gonna take a lot of work. As for the second half of what you said, why is that relevant especially if he's figured things out? Grasping at straws.
As I said this is a weak argument to continue the typical ESPN hate. But in the end, the season will tell all.