Rays News

Rays Hope Japan Series Evan Longoria Is Here To Stay

By Robbie Knopf

The Tampa Bay Rays waited all season for Evan Longoria to go on a hot streak. He certainly had his moments and played particularly well in September, but he was never an impossible out like he had been for stretches in previous seasons. Well, now that time has finally come. The 2014 season is over, but there is another month and a half left in the year, and Longoria is showing that he has going to make his remaining time count.

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In three games versus Japanese All-Star teams, Longoria is Team USA’s leading hitter. Overall, he is 4 for 8 with a homer, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored. When he hasn’t been hitting, he has been walking, drawing 3 bases on balls versus just 1 strikeout. For what it’s worth, his overall line is now .500/.636/.875, with an OPS of 1.511 if you’re too lazy to do the math. In all of 2014, Longoria had just one 3-game stretch with an OPS that high: a 1.792 mark from April 17th to 19th. He had five non-overlapping stretches with an OPS above 1.511 in 2013 and three even in his injury-shortened 2012.

At the very least, it’s good to know that Evan Longoria still has this in him. He’s a good bet to rebound because he just turned 29 and he had that issue with the mechanics of his swing, but we were still waiting for that “aha” moment. Maybe this Japan Series could be just that.

In other news from the Japan Series, Ben Zobrist is now 3 for 10 in the three games with a triple, a double, and 2 runs scored while playing left field and second base. It is great to see the Rays’ two biggest stars on the US team together, and though Zobrist has not quite kept pace with Longoria, he has been more than respectable himself.

Jeff Beliveau, meanwhile, entered a one-run game in the ninth inning of the first US-Japan game and retired both batters he faced for the save. Beliveau impressed everyone after getting a big league opportunity this year, and that game was just another glimmer of what he is capable of. You never know with relievers sometime, but the Rays have to be feeling good about Beliveau’s chances of being a big part of their bullpen in 2015.