Evan Longoria: Forget About Last Year, Your Team Needs Him

Michael Messier@@Messier85Contributor IFebruary 22, 2012

ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Infielder Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after his bottom of the twelveth inning walk off home run against the New York Yankees during the game at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

In this post, we look at one of the top, young sluggers in baseball. In a time where third base power is becoming less present (if you exclude the Miguel Cabrera move back to third), Longoria is a “Ray” of hope (I know baseball puns are the worst).  Why? The answer is in the numbers.  What I hope you can take away is that you can ask: “What if Evan Longoria was on the (insert favorite or hated team)?

Evan Longoria put up is best line yet with a .281 average, 33 home runs, 113 RBIs and an .889 OPS in 157 games with the 2009 Rays. The lineup also featured protection from Carlos Pena (.227 AVG, 39 HRs, 100 RBIs and .893 OPS) and a surging Ben Zobrist (.297 AVG, 27 HRs, 91 RBIs and .948 OPS). Pretty good stats for those three, right? The stats suggest that strong protection helped to provide for a monster season.

Although he missed the first month due to a lat strain and lingering foot injury, the 2011 season was strong for Longoria regardless.  A .246 AVG can be justified by time missed and lingering injuries, but Longoria was still able to post 31 home runs and 99 RBIs in 24 less games than the 2009 season.  It is my opinion (and the basis of my first round selection of him in my fantasy draft last year) that Longoria was set to set himself as the top third baseman and slugger under age 30 in baseball. 

We ask: “If he had played 162 games last year, would he have surpassed his 2009 numbers?” It’s not hard for one to imagine that he could have had two more homers and 14 more RBIs in the span of the 24 games missed.  After reading this, I hope you play out the possibility of him replacing other third basemen in the league, say hitting behind Tulowitzki? Teixeira?  Howard? Or any other team that provides protection, and imagine the numbers he would provide…