2012 Season Previews: Evan Longoria

This is a visual approximation of the last time we saw 3B Evan Longoria in a regular season game:

Longo_homer_medium

In game 162, Evan Longoria slapped homers No. 30 and No. 31, pushing the Rays into the single most amazing win in franchise history and possibly the greatest night of modern baseball history.

Longo is now a four-year veteran and has missed the playoffs only once in his career. Which is incredible considering: When he was in the minor leagues, the team won only 39% of its games (127-197); since then, the team has won about 57% of its games (368-280).

Now, at age 26, what can Longoria do?

Everything, obviously. And that includes ground into double plays and get injured -- both of which Longo has done with vigor. Still, Evan represents one of the purest examples of a Baseball Player:

Season wRC+ UZR BsR WAR
2008 130 15.3 1.2 5.5
2009 134 17.7 2.2 7.6
2010 140 11.1 5.5 7.6
2011 134 10.7 0.6 6.1

He hits well; he fields well; he runs well -- he is well. When people think back on this era in Rays history, it will be remembered as the Evan Longoria era (whether or not it should be). He is the cornerstone of the franchise and the team's single most valuable player -- and not that is not even considering his team-friendly contract.

From 2008 through 2011, Longo has led the team in not only hitting (135 wRC+) and fielding (54.8 UZR), but in wins too:

Image009_medium


One of these days, 3B Adrian Beltre is going to leave the AL or retire, and nothing will stand between Longoria and a whole room dedicated to his Gold Gloves.

But though Evan's future looks mostly sky-blue beautiful, there is always a chance of rain in Florida. According to Baseball Prospectus' injury database, Longo has missed 64 games and 86 days since joining the majors.

"Tosh!" says my Optimist Half. "Just 86 days? That's nothing!"

Yeah, well, it's noteworthy nonetheless:

Image003_medium


Is Longo's injury history worth worrying about? Well, I'm not too concerned about it. It is worth mentioning, though. In the span that Longoria missed 86 games, Ben Zobrist missed just 37, Carlos Pena missed 62, and B.J. Upton missed 17.

So he's been injured a little -- a fact made only more pointed by how much the team misses him when he's gone -- but none of the injuries (other than his broken wrist in 2008, from which he seems to have fully recovered) appear as the career-affecting, lingering types.*

*NOTE: I am so not a doctor.

So what's on the slate for Evan Longoria in 2012? Presumably more of the same.

Pretty much every projection system outside of Marcel expects Longoria to hit better than his .374 career wOBA, and presumably his fielding should keep in that 10 to 15 runs range it has been. All told, Longoria should be good for another 7+ win season, and if he disappoints a little, then maybe 6 to 7 wins.

2012 Projections

Season Team PA HR OBP SLG wOBA Fld
2012 Steamer 641 32 .372 .538 .388
2012 Bill James 651 35 .370 .535 .386
2012 RotoChamp 604 29 .376 .513 .386
2012 Marcel 553 23 .356 .490 .363
2012 FG Fans (65) 669 33 .375 .536 .388 12
2012 ZiPS 660 31 .367 .514 .378
Average 630 31 .369 .521 .382 12

And judging by how good the team around him looks right now, I am sad to report the Rays may not need Game 162 this year.

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