Heading into the series, he ranked second among all active major leaguers in OPS at Angels Stadium; however, during the first two games, he worked just some incredibly sloppy at-bats, including an embarrassing effort with the bases loaded on Friday.
Speaking of Longoria hitting with men on base, there may be an underlying approach causing him to do more poorly whenever a runner is on -- which, thanks Logan Forsythe's incredible start, there usually is -- as Longoria has a 124 wRC+ with the bases empty compared to 58 wRC+ with runners on.
He did manage to salvage the series with two hits on Sunday.
Now this isn't an attack on Longoria's performance this year, as has improved from last year, particularly in the power department which is what he set out to do during spring training. Longoria is already at five home runs and it only took him 103 plate appearances to reach that mark. Last year, it took Longoria almost a month longer to reach the same.
He has improved, again this isn't an attack on the Rays star third baseman, just a look to see if he could be potentially improve his performance by being more selective.
When Evan steps up to the box, he is already in protect mode, as he swings wildly at anything remotely close to the zone. He is swinging at the most often rate of his career, a good ten points higher than his career swing rate. But, he is making contact way less often. By swinging at pitches out of the zone he is placing himself in bad counts, which allows the pitcher to use the count to his advantage and expand the zone further.
When Longoria falls behind, common sense and statistical reason would indicate he'll have poorer results. So far when he starts a count off 0-1, Longoria has a 69 wRC+ compared, to the 106 wRC+ when he gets ahead 1-0.
My hypothesis is that Longoria is swinging at most pitches, attempting to do damage -- which he has, evidenced by a raised ISO. However, Longoria has now, for the first time in a long time, two legitimate power threats behind him in Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr, and teams around the league have already begun to fear Dickerson and will often pitch around him when possible.
Thus in turn, if Longoria starts to be more selective, the counts will fall more into his favor as pitchers don't want to risk putting runners on base for the Rays big swinging designated hitter.
Evan Longoria is simply just swinging at pitches that he has absolutely no hope of squaring up, and with a couple of big bats behind him, there's no reason for him to offer at those pitches and fall behind in the count. Even if he does make contact, most of the time it'll result in an easy out for the defense with an occasional bloop hit for a ground ball finding its way though.
The responsibility of hitting the ball out of the park, no longer solely falls on Longoria as it has in years past as he's actually third on the team in homers right now behind the power hitting Dickerson and Souza.
Longoria is not struggling, but there may be some room for improvement. After a sluggish start, Longoria has been solid in May, albeit a few memorable awfully terrible no good very bad plate appearances over the weekend.
Longoria can, and will, do better.