Up until June 28th, it looked like Evan Longoria was going to have his best season yet. He had played in all 79 of the Rays’ games, hitting to a .299/.368/.551 line with 21 doubles, 17 homers, and 74 RBI in 342 plate appearanes. On June 28th, however, Longoria departed after just one at-bat with planar fasciitis, and for the next month-plus he was not the same player. From July 2nd to August 11th, Longoria managed just a .185/.274/.346 line with just 6 doubles, 5 homers, and 15 RBI in 146 plate appearances, looking as lost as we had ever seen him. And then suddenly, as quickly as it had set in, the slump was gone. Since then, Longoria has a .404/.468/.952 line in 47 plate appearances, slamming 5 doubles and 6 homers while driving in 9. Unsurprisingly, the Rays have gone 8-3 over that stretch. Longoria had an awful month and the whispers began to come in from the detractors that he would never be the player he used to be. Then he went right back to being the hitter everyone knows he is.
Longoria has gotten injured several times now: in 2008, 2011, 2012, and briefly in 2013. Even beyond that, he isn’t a perfect player. Between injuries and the simple hills and valleys of a baseball player, Longoria has his slumps. However, no matter how bad he looks, it always ends and is quickly forgotten. In 2011, Longoria suffered an ankle injury in June and that debilitated through June and July as he hit for power (10 home runs) but hit just .222 in 210 plate appearances. Then, of course, he put up a .261/.373/.562 line with 17 home runs in August and September to lead the Rays to the postseason. Now this year, he’s pulling off the same trick. Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce are both streaky, but the reason that Longoria is a star and Joyce is a part-time player is that you always know that Longoria will be just fine in the end. Evan Longoria has his rough patches, but when the season is over there’s no question how integral he is to the Rays’ success. Be concerned that Longoria may be playing through an injury or stuck in a slump, but never doubt that he is one of the best players in all of baseball.