October 2, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) reacts after he strikes out and Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters (32) throws the ball to end the sixth inning at Tropicana Field. Baltimore Orioles defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Evan Longoria's Great Finish Makes Rays Lament What Could Have Been

If Evan Longoria was healthy for as little as two weeks longer, the Rays would undoubtedly be heading to the postseason right now. It kills Rays fans to admit it, but it’s true. The Rays did everything they could to overcome the hole his injury created, but without him they simply were not the same. Making matters even more frustrating is that when he was healthy, Evan Longoria was as good as ever in 2012.

This season, Evan Longoria posted a .289/.369/.527 line with 14 doubles, 17 homers, 55 RBI, and 61 strikeouts versus 33 walks in 74 games and 312 plate appearances. His OPS+ was 149, which would have been his career-high. His 17 homers were just 5 short of the number he had in more than double of games and plate appearances  in 2010. And you have to take into account that Longoria was also still feeling the effects of his hamstring injury the entire time after he came back, worsening his numbers. In addition, Longoria was much more comfortable at third base than at DH, posting a .304/.391/.541 line as a third baseman compared to .261/.324/.500 as a DH. But the only stat that really matters: the Rays were 47-27 when Longoria was in the lineup and 43-45 when he was not.

Longoria’s 2012 numbers work out to 37 home runs and 120 RBI in 650 plate appearances. Factor in his all-around hitting ability and great defense, and he could have been an MVP candidate for this year. That did not materialize. However, Evan Longoria may have affected baseball as much as anyone in the game between his results when he was healthy and the way the standings shifted when he was not.

Tags: Evan Longoria Tampa Bay Rays

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