Even though the Tampa Bay Rays made a world series appearance two seasons ago, and is currently the top team in the AL East. Not many people truly know how good of a player their 3rd Baseman Evan Longoria is at this stage in his career.
After spending two years in the minor leagues, Longoria hit a combined .301/.386/.534 with 44 home runs and 144 RBI, all before his 22nd birthday. Within one week of being called up, the Rays locked Longoria up to the longest contract in team history with a nine year $44 million deal. Which was probably one of the smartest moves the Rays have made in their entire history in the major leagues?
Clearly the Rays had a lot of confidence in Longoria, as they were not afraid to make this large of a commitment to a player with less than 30 career at-bats . So far, Longoria has already outperformed the contract that he signed.
You may be asking how a player that has played fewer than 400 career games could be considered the best player at his position in the American League, with players like Alex Rodriguez still playing.
Longoria plays some of the best defensive third base in all of major league baseball. Whether it’s ranging far to his right and making a leaping throw across the diamond, or charging a bunt, bare-handing it, and making the out at first, the kid can really do it all.
In his second season, Longoria brought home what many people believe to be his first of many Gold Gloves over his career.
Longoria has already made eight errors this year, his RF/G is at 2.77, which is still above the league average of 2.72. So, while he has made a number of errors, he still gets to more balls than a lot of third basemen in Major League Baseball would get to.
Over his career, Longoria has been successful on 92.8% of his steal attempts (26/28), including ten stolen bases this year.
Right now, Evan is on pace for about 33 home runs and 30 stolen bases. If he is able to maintain this pace, he will be the first third baseman in the American League to complete this feat since Tommy Harper did it for the Milwaukee Brewers back in 1970.
This is the one spot of Longoria’s game that I feel is only going to get better over the next few years, which is saying a lot because he had a line of .281/33/114 last year.
Longoria’s batting eye has been getting better each year that he has been in professional baseball, because of that he is starting to see which pitches that he can drive, which pitches to lay off, and he is starting to learn when to push the ball instead of always trying to pull it.