Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria’s Hall of Fame Case
By David Hill
There is no question that Evan Longoria is the best player in the history of the Tampa Bay Rays. But does he have a legitimate chance to get into the Hall of Fame once his career comes to an end?
At 31 years old, it is not improbable that Evan Longoria has a few more solid years left in the tank. The Tampa Bay Rays are certainly hoping so, as his most recent contract extension will last through 2022, excluding the team option for the following year. Obviously, the Rays are banking on Longoria to continue his strong play.
While he is obviously the best player in the history of the Rays, it may be time to look at his place in the history of the game. Overall, Longoria has produced a solid .270/.343/.486 batting line, hitting 250 homers and driving in 840 runs in his decade in the majors. A three time All Star, Longoria won the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year award, won two Gold Glove awards, and has three top ten finishes in the MVP balloting.
Taking a look at the similarity scores for Longoria through age 31, there are some interesting names. Although Eric Chavez, listed as the player most similar to Longoria, is not a Hall of Fame caliber player, others could be considered. Aramis Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Scott Rolen, and Dale Murphy are all borderline Hall of Fame candidates, and are in the top ten of the most similar players to Longoria at this point in his career.
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A look at Bill James‘ Hall of Fame monitor also indicates that Longoria has a lot of work to do as well. While a likely Hall of Famer would score approximately 100 points, Longoria has just 37 points thus far. Longoria also ranks just 23rd in the JAWS ranking system, with a 48.1 WAR thus far in his career.
Obviously, as Longoria continues his career, those numbers will go up. As long as he remains healthy, he has a good chance at going over 400 homers and adding a few hundred more to his RBI totals. However, Longoria’s struggles this season do lead to the question of whether or not he will hold up for the duration of his contract.
If so, and if Longoria can reach the 400 home run club while maintaining a solid batting line, he would certainly have an interesting case. Likewise, if he can add a couple more All Star appearances, and maybe another award or two, it would help his cause. And if the Rays can return to the World Series with Longoria as a key part of the lineup, he would earn additional points with the voters.
Next: Mallex Smith getting chance to shine
Evan Longoria is easily the best player in Tampa Bay Rays history, but he is not yet the type of player to make the Hall of Fame. However, in a few years, his counting stats may approach that level.