Evan Longoria Player Projection No. 10

Key Stats: Evan Longoria has averaged 28 home runs and 100 RBI over his first four MLB seasons. He is only going to be 26 years old this season, and if you ask most people they think he has not played his best season yet. The numbers suggest that he’s becoming a more disciplined hitter every season. In his rookie season Longoria had a strikeout rate of 24% and a walk rate of 9.1%. He has improved each of these every season to the point where his strikeout rate is down to 16.2% and his walk rate is up to 13.9%.

Skeptics Say: The first round pick is only justified if we think that that best season is coming this year. Relative to players taken before him (Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera types), Longoria’s numbers have never matched up. He has never scored more than 100 runs, stolen more than 15 bases, or hit .300 in his career.

Peer Comparison: Longoria has become the celebrated face of the Tampa Bay franchise. He was the first member of the Rays to have a national endorsement (New Era) and his rise to the majors came in the season that the team made the playoffs for the first time ever. When the whole world thought that the AL East was a two-team league, Longoria and the Rays have proven that is not the case by making some noise of their own every year that Longoria has been in the show. This season, that league might turn into a four-team show. And the new team has a third baseman of their own to brag about. Here’s a look at how Brett Lawrie and Longoria’s minor league numbers stack up:

Player

OBP

SLG

AVG

HR

SB

AB

Longoria

.386

.541

.300

47

8

773

Lawrie

.360

.492

.296

39

62

1278

Lawrie came into the show a year younger and with 500 more professional at-bats than Longoria. He also had a more eye-popping last season in the minor leagues and can steal bases. Longoria is clearly more seasoned at this point in his career, but keeper leagues beware. Lawrie is not far from being a perennial first round choice.

Lineup Outlook: This is where things come apart a little for Longoria. Not much though. Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist are certainly above average hitters at their positions, but neither should hit 30 home runs or be enough to protect Longoria in the lineup. Carlos Pena and has 12,000 strikeouts and negative batting average are back. B.J. Upton (on the DL to start the year by the way) is a good fantasy player, but is still a batting average and strikeout problem himself. The Rays simply don’t have a guy to hit behind Longoria in the same way that those other teams in the AL East (except the Orioles) have someone to hit behind their studs.

What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline: #1 Third Baseman; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com: #2 Third Baseman & #15 Overall; Yahoo: #2 Third Baseman & #12 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #1 Third Baseman & #12 Overall; RotoChamp: #19 Overall

Projection: Longoria had a season to forget until September last season, but if there’s a month you would like to see a player blow up in it’s September. Bill James seems to think it’s going to continue (101 R 35 HR 116 RBI), and I also think this will be Longoria’s best season yet when his .239 BABIP soars back to normal levels.
93 R 33 HR 109 RBI 12 SB .298 AVG .900 OPS in 590 at-bats