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Left Side Is The Best Side: Is There A Better Duo Than Evan Longoria & Jason Bartlett?

It's a little early to look at All-Star ballots and things of that nature, but has there been a better left side of the infield this season than Evan Longoria and Jason Bartlett? Sure, there are talented SS/3B tandems throughout the league like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter or David Wright and Jose Reyes, but offensively and defensively nobody is playing as well as the Rays left side.

I guess you could argue that Hanley Ramirez and replacement level third basemen X would make a fine pair, but Longoria basically cancels out Ramirez's advantage over your normal every day shortstop. Add that to the fact that Jason Barlett has looked like a team MVP, if that team didn't already have guys like Longoria, Carl Crawford or Carlos Pena, and you have a winner. In fact with a .401 wOBA Bartlett has been one of, if not the best, offensive short stop north of Miami where Ramirez makes his living.

Offensively, I don't have to tell you how good Longoria is. And just yesterday, I did a little piece on how he is now the games premier defensive third basemen. Longo is the real deal, and while MVB"s offensive start maybe too good to be true for much longer, his defense is starting to resemble the player we thought we were getting from the Minnesota Twins.

Over the past three seasons including last year's 2.1 UZR, Bartlett has averaged a 7.1 UZR. Figuring (or hoping) last year was the outlier, most suspected a healthy Bartlett would climb back closer to the 8-10 range this season. So far that looks to be the case. Barlett is third overall in SS UZR with a 3.0 ranking and is tied for second in range runs. It looks like whatever knee problem that hampered him last year is over and done with. One thing I did notice is he has been average or below average at turning the double play, or at least he is according to Fangraphs' double play runs.

If both players keep up this level of play it might not matter who the fans vote in as the All-Star starters at each position. Remember, Joe Maddon is the manager of the AL All-Star team. If we're talking about the same two players into next month, then Maddon will be more than justified in showing a little homerism and taking the left side of his infield, and maybe part of the right side in Carlos Pena, with him to St. Louis.

Note: Keep in mind we are dealing with a small sample size and metrics like UZR are great at telling us what has happened so far, but hold little weight as a predicitive value.