Is Evan Longoria Ready To Return?

By David Hill

Before injuring his hamstring, Evan Longoria was on his way towards having a solid season. Through April 30th, Longoria had put together a .329/.433/.561 batting line, with four home runs and nineteen RBI. Not surprisingly, the Rays were in first place at that point in time.

Since Longoria’s injury, the Rays have been able to remain within site of the playoffs, currently sitting a half game out of the second Wild Card spot. They have managed to do this despite an offense that ranks 13th in batting average, slugging, and OPS. The Rays are also 12th in runs scored, and 10th in home runs. While leading the American League in walks and stolen bases, this has not often led to a big inning, as evidenced by the Rays having only scored 434 runs, 12th in the league.

Help, in the form of Evan Longoria, is reportedly on the way. Presently expected to return from the disabled list on Tuesday, his return to the lineup can help fix these problems. As the best hitter in the lineup, his presence alone should help the offense be better. Yet, is Longoria ready to return?

His statistics during his rehab stint in Durham do not look promising. Longoria is batting only .167, and does not have an extra base hit. While he is drawing walks at a solid rate, with six walks in 31 plate appearances, he has also struck out eight times.

As disappointing as those statistics may be, his underlying rates are even worse. In his 24 at bats, Longoria has hit a total of three line drives. Even more distressing is that 21.1% of his at bats have resulted in infield popups. While this is admitted a small sample size, it is enough to wonder if Longoria is fully healthy.

Is Longoria ready? Even if he is not, the Rays may not have a choice in the matter, as they desperately need his bat in the lineup in an attempt to jumpstart an anemic offense. Even if he is at 70 to 80%, that much of Longoria may be enough of an upgrade to help catapult the Rays into the playoffs.

Ready or not, here comes Evan Longoria.