Evan Longoria and David Price led the Rays through their most successful stretch in franchise history and helped shape the most recent decade of Rays baseball.
Both of their respective journeys with the Rays began well before this decade. For Evan Longoria, the journey started in 2006 when he was selected third overall by the Devil Rays, as they were known then. His selection would become the most important one in the history of the franchise. For Price, his selection first overall the following year would bring the two young stars together and inevitably link them in Tampa Bay Rays lore in the coming years.
As the 2008 season approached, so did the debut of Evan Longoria and the eventual debut of David Price. Longoria arrived on April 12th and took the league by storm. In what was a magical season for the Rays, one that culminated in the franchise’s first trip to the World Series, Evan Longoria was elected to his first all-star team, won the American League Rookie of the Year award, and finished eleventh in the MVP voting.
David Price would make his highly anticipated debut against the New York Yankees on September 14th and with his arrival also came the duo that would shape the following decade in Rays baseball history. David Price’s postseason heroics in Game 7 of the ALCS will forever go down as one of the best moments in Rays history as will Evan Longoria’s entire rookie season. What would follow is pure dominance from the pair on the mound and at plate.
David Price would go on to become the undisputed ace of a team that would go on to win the AL East title in 2010 and make additional playoff appearances in 2011 and 2013. Evan Longoria would lead the Rays on the field and at the plate and solidify his place as one of the best players in the league.
Together, the two accumulated a laundry list of accolades and formed the most dominant duo in Rays history. Starting in 2010, Longoria and Price would both begin the best stretch of their respective careers while leading the Rays to sustained success in the early part of the decade.
In 2010, both would make a trip to the all-star game. Longoria would win his second consecutive gold glove and finish 6th in the MVP vote while Price would finish second in the Cy Young race. The following year, Price would make his second consecutive all-star game and Longoria would finish 10th in the MVP race. In 2012, Price brought home the franchise’s first Cy Young award and finished 12th in the MVP race. With 2013 came a healthy Evan Longoria and another 6th place finish in the MVP vote.
For the first four seasons of this decade, the pair dominated the baseball landscape and such dominance hasn’t been matched by a pair of Rays players since. But, at the deadline in 2014, the duo would be ripped apart and the dominance would cease along with the Rays’ success. Evan Longoria would remain a Ray for three more seasons before also being traded away in the offseason following the 2017 season.
On paper, the pair’s success is obvious and undeniable. Off paper though, what the two did along with teammates like Ben Zobrist, James Shields, and Carl Crawford is not spoken about enough. They ushered in an era of success in Rays baseball. For a team and fanbase that sustained losing seasons from their inception until the miraculous 2008 season, the youthful excitement and success that Evan Longoria and David Price brought to the table was unprecedented.
They set a new standard. A standard that wouldn’t be met again until the 2018 and 2019 seasons. They set a standard that couldn’t be upheld when they were no longer wearing a Rays uniform. With the arrival of players like Willy Adames, Blake Snell, and Austin Meadows the standard is again being met. Just as Price and Longoria shaped the 2010’s, players like Blake Snell and Willy Adames will shape the 2020’s. As many have said, baseball is a cyclical game. Well, the cycle has been completed.