Sep 23, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) hits a single during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The Obvious Choice
Evan Longoria has been the starting third baseman for the Rays since 2008 and has proven to be the best hitter in team history. In 2014, however, his power and average dropped significantly, which is a critical reason that the Rays struggled to a 77-85 record. On the other hand, some of his issue can be attributed to the Rays’ overall lackluster year at the plate and the little protection he had in the lineup.
Longoria is now among the oldest players at on the Rays at 29 years of age and while he is a team leader, his role has to increase now that Maddon and Price have left. The reality is that the Rays’ lineup lacks suitable protection for him–it will rank among the worst homer-hitting offenses in baseball. However, Longoria can improve his own numbers by finding means to strike out less and be more patient at the plate.
Not only could such adjustments aid Longoria’s stats, but also they could make him a teacher by example to the Rays’ young players. Some people will discount the Rays’ chances because they will be such a young team, but they still have the ability to surprise. If Longoria can help hitters like Nick Franklin and Kevin Kiermaier continue to make strides at the plate, the Rays could surpass everyone’s expectations.