A Look at Evan Longoria’s July Struggles

By David Hill

To say that Evan Longoria has been in a slump lately would be a bit of an understatement. After a flare up of his plantar fasciitis knocked him from the lineup for three games at the end of June, Longoria has not been nearly the same hitter that the Rays have come to expect. For the month of July, Longoria is hitting at a rate of only .181/.299/.373, with a total of six extra base hits in 75 at bats. Longoria also has 25 strikeouts in that time, and has struggled to make solid contact consistently.

Longoria’s biggest issue during this stretch appears to be breaking pitches low and away. Over the past month, he has been chasing sliders low and outside, either waving at the pitch for a strike or grounding it weakly foul. Perhaps this is due to the foot injury, as he really has not been hitting the ball with much authority as of late, or maybe he is having difficulty picking up that ball.

It appears as though the Rays have recognized an issue with Longoria and sliders, and breaking pitches in general, as well. Over the past few games, Longoria has been hitting second in the lineup, presumably to give him more fastballs to hit. With Desmond Jennings getting on base and players like Ben Zobrist and Wil Myers providing protection, it would would seem that Longoria should be getting more fastballs to hit.

Fortunately for the Rays, Longoria’s slump has not been as problematic as it would have been last season. Unlike 2012, when Longoria and Zobrist were essentially the only players really producing consistently in the lineup, the Rays offense has been solid from top to bottom almost all year. When one player struggles, another player has stepped up. This depth has made Longoria’s struggles not nearly the catastrophe they could have been.

Eventually, the Rays are likely to need Evan Longoria to get back to the possible MVP form he displayed at the start of the year, and help to anchor the offense on a playoff run. To do that, he will likely need to make an adjustment to how pitchers have been attacking him as of late. Perhaps all he needs to do is to take a couple of days off, and get his mind cleared. If that day or two gives his foot a chance to feel a bit better as well, then the Rays and Longoria would be willing to take that benefit as well.