The more you see Evan Longoria play, the more you ask yourself how the Rays ever survived without him. This past week, Longoria was especially great, managing a .464/.532/.964 line with 3 homers, 5 doubles, and 11 RBI in 7 games and 32 plate appearances, and for his efforts, Longoria was named the American League Player of the Week. It was sixth time in his career that Longoria has won the award and the first since August of 2010. Longoria talked to Joe Smith about how he’s feeling at the plate right now.
“I am in one of those modes right now where it seems like no matter what they throw up there, I’m seeing every pitch pretty well. And even when I get to two strikes, I don’t really feel like I’m too antsy or I’m going to swing at a bad pitch. I’m pretty patient and relaxed up there.”
Longoria struck out just 4 times while walking 4 times over the course of the streak, and his great plate discipline could bode well for him moving forward as well. On the season, Longoria has a .333/.403/.610 line (179 OPS+) with 10 doubles, 9 homers, and 26 RBI in 159 plate appearances. He has been about as good as the Rays possibly could have hoped, and while some regression is likely, the Rays know that he’s an outstanding player. Longoria’s hot start has only helped the Rays get to 19-18 on the season, but they went 5-2 in the last week and we can only imagine where they would be without him.
“We were aware of it at the time, but when you see him carry us, like he has for the last couple of weeks, it’s an even bigger reminder of how important he is,” Rays outfielder Sam Fuld said.
Other players have stepped up, with James Loney especially having a huge start to the year, but Longoria is the key to the Rays’ success and having him in the lineup changes the entire offense and the entire team. The Rays got a chance to DH Longoria on Sunday, doing the little things necessary to keep him healthy. If they can just keep him on the field, special things could be ahead for this Rays offense and this Rays team as a whole.