A three time All-Star, two time Gold Glove Award winner, 2008 Rookie of the Year and a Silver Slugger award winner. Those are a few brilliant accolades to describe what has been nothing short of a sensational so far for the 27-year-old third baseman, Evan Longoria. Looking at those milestones and accomplishments, you would think the road to the Bigs was fairly easy for Mr. Longoria, but it was all but that.
The Downey, California kid Evan Longoria was a two-year letterman in baseball. Shockingly, he did not receive any scholarship offers from any schools. USC showed interest, but backed out. In order for Longoria to play baseball, he attended Rio Hondo Community College. At this time, recruiters doubted he could play Division 1 ball due to his size and weight (6’1, 170 pounds), but from Rio Hondo he transferred to Long Beach State University after being offered a scholarship. Due to the team already having an established shortstop, Longoria shifted to third base. The “established shortshop” you might ask? Colorado Rockies SS, Troy Tulowitzki. Yes, that is one hell of a tandem. While at LBSU, he hit for .320 and was given All-Conference honors. Longoria was also named MVP of the 2006 Cape Cod League and was Co Big West Conference Player of the Year. Following this, Longoria was drafted.
After being considered the “best pure hitter”, the (at the time) Tampa Bay Devil Rays chose Longoria with their third overall pick in the 2006 MLB First Year Player Draft. He received a $3MM signing bonus. Following the draft, Longoria was placed in their Single-A affiliate, Hudson Valley Renegades, but before the season was over he had been brought up to Double-A, the Montgomery Biscuits. In total, during the 2006 season, Longoria combined for 62 games, with 18 HR, 58 RBI’s, and possessed a .315/.360/.597 batting line. Longoria continued this success in to the 2007 season.
During the 2007 season, Longoria played in 105 games for the Biscuits hitting 21 HR with 76 RBI’s and also a not to shabby .302/.403/.528 batting line. This success through the 105 Double-A games elevated him to Triple-A, the Durham Bulls.
In only 31 games to cap off the 2007 season with the Bulls, Longoria added another 5 HR’s, and 19 RBI’s and combined, had a grand total of 26 HR’s, 95 RBI’s and held a very admirable .299/.402/.520 batting line. But 2008 would be Longoria’s year.
On April 12, 2008, after many thought Longoria would open the season as the new look Rays (changed from Devil Rays to Rays the 2008 season) starting third baseman, but sent down to complete his development, the Rays incumbent starting third baseman Willy Aybar was placed on the disabled list which forced a Longoria call-up after only a total of 38 Triple-A games between ’07-’08. He also replaced Aybar on the 40-man roster. During his Major League debut he went 1 for 3 with an RBI and two days later hit his first career home run against the Yankees. Six days after his call-up, the Rays blessed Longoria with a 6-year contract worth $17.5MM with options during 2014, 2015, 2016. The original deal plus the options would have made the deal worth a total of $44MM. During his rookie season, Longoria won the 2008 All-Star Final Fan vote over White Sox OF Jermaine Dye, Royals outfielder Jose Guillen, Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi and the Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. He had also participated in the Home Run Derby where he hit only 3 home runs. Though ultimately defeated in five games, Longoria led the once terrible Tampa Bay Rays to a World Series where they were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies. Longoria finished the 2008 season with AL Rookie of the Year honors and with 27 HR’s, 85 RBI’s, 7 SB’s and a .272/.343/.531 batting line. 2009 would hold more accomplishment, statistically wise.
Before the 2009 season began, Longoria replaced 3B Chipper Jones on the USA World Baseball Classic roster, a huge honor for any player. Though the Rays fell short of the playoffs that season, Longoria had a career year. He hit 33 HR’s, 113 RBI’s, and hit for .281/.364/.526. He was also awared with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards. Though the homer’s dipped, Longoria’s overall personal stats improved in 2010.
During the 2010 season, Longoria had a career high in average at .294 and an impressive 46 doubles. He also had 22 HR’s and 104 RBI’s. The Rays made the playoffs, but lost in the American League Divisional Series to the Texas Rangers, 3 games to 2. If you were to ask him today, I’d bet Longoria would say 2011 was one of his more memorable years.
Despite injuring his oblique and only playing in 133 games in 2011, Longoria made the biggest impact. On the final day of the regular season, in extra innings, Longoria hit a walk-off home run to send the Rays in to the playoffs just 3 minutes after the Red Sox finished a historically bad collapse by going 7-20 in September. The Rays would again fail to beat the Rangers in the American League Divisional Series again, but they accomplished the biggest comeback in Major League history. Longoria finished the year with a career low .244 batting average, but had 31 HR’s and 99 RBI’s. After a great 2011, you’d think 2012 would be nothing but great too, right? Wrong.
2012 was a devastating year for Longoria and Rays fans everywhere. On April 30th, against the Seattle Mariners at the Trop, Longoria tore his hamstring causing him to miss 85 games, was placed on the 60-day DL and the Rays went 41-44 during that span. The Rays missed the playoffs.
During the 2012 off-season, Longoria and the Rays agreed to a 6-year, $100MM deal and will keep the beloved third baseman in Tampa Bay through the 2023 season making Rays fans everywhere (including me) smile.
Through 637 Major League games, Longoria has a total of 652 hits, 130 HR’s, 456 RBI’s, and a career line of .276/.361/.516. Through 25 post-season games, Longoria has 8 HR’s, 18 RBI’s, but a fairly disappointing batting line of .194/.255/.490.
It’s safe to say Evan Longoria is one of, if not the best third baseman in the game today. Longoria, thus far, has had a very promising, illustrious career and at this rate and pending good health, will continue to do so for a very, very long time. Longoria and his wife (Jamie Edmonson, January 2010 Playmate of the Month) were blessed with their first child on February 20, 2013, Elle Leona Longoria.