Is Tampa Bay’s Longoria deserving of being an all-star?

by Gary Shelton on July 6, 2016 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Rays believe Evan Longoria should be an all-star again./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Rays believe Evan Longoria should be an all-star again./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Wednesday, 6 a.m.

Time was, he was an automatic.

It was all-star time, and Evan Longoria would pack his bags. Other players might rest, but Longo always had somewhere to go. It was celebrity time, and Longoria always had some third base to play. It was that way in 2008. And 2009. And 2010.

He was as regular as sound on the radio. Voters would vote for Longo automatically, and then they would start to decide about the outfield.

And then came 2011, and nothing.

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Rays pulled Souza from the game for not hustling./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Rays pulled Souza from the game for not hustling./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

It has been six years now since Longoria made an all-star game, back when he was 24 and the world was new. Longoria was an essential player on an essential team, and they wouldn't dare have an all-star game without him.

“I’m always excited to be considered in that group," Longoria said. "First and foremost, I’m very happy for Colome. I think he’s deserving of it. He’s one of the only guys down there that’s been consistent for us and been great, and we’ve asked a lot out of him. And I’m honored to be on the final ballot thing. We talked about it earlier, I was on it in 2008, and we came through and won. So hopefully we can rally the troops and get some votes and get me there again.”

In 2011 and 2013,  you can say that Longo deserved to be picked. He was in the top 10 if MVP voting both seasons, and he was first and third in WAR. But the last few years, Longoria seems to have faded just a bit.

Now, at 30, Longoria is fighting for the last spot on the roster. He is one of five players in the Final Vote. Yeah, you can make an argument for him. But you can make an argument for the other guys, too. There is no slam-dunk, no-doubt vote here. And if it gets into a popularity contest, well, Longo plays on a last-place team in front of very few voters.

Miller catches a fly ball in the Rays' loss to Los Angeles./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Miller catches a fly ball in the Rays' loss to Los Angeles./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

"Obviously, we feel Evan Longoria is All-Star worthy and are very hopeful that he gets the votes needed to get to the game,” Rays' manager Kevin Cash said.

Hey, I like Longoria. I think he's got a nice perspective, and he seems to care. But of his four opponents in this vote, three have higher averages. One has more homers (although only by one). Two have more RBI. Longoria plays the tougher position defensively (two of the others are second basemen and two are outfielders.

But Longoria no longer makes you hold your breath when he hits. In four of his last five seasons (counting this one), he has no more than 22 home runs. After getting MVP votes four of his first five years, he hasn't lately.

So how do you vote in this gimmicky musical chairs attention-grab?

For Longoria? He's had a nice season. He has 18 homers and 45 RBI. He's hitting .278. He has a .521 slugging percentage.

Duston Pedroia? His .306 is the highest average, but as you might expect, he hasn't matched the power numbers.

Ian Kinsler? He has 52 RBI. He's hitting .290 with 16 homers.

Michael Saunders? He's also at .290 with 15 homers.

George Springer? His average (.263) is lowest of the five, but he has 19 homers and 50 RBI.

Given all of that, how should you feel about Longoria? Like this: It would be nice to see him join Alex Colome there. But it isn't a sure thing. I'm not sure anyone can scream robbery if he doesn't make it. These days, Longoria is a fine third baseman. But he isn't one of the top 2-3 in the game.

I hope he goes.

I'll understand if he does not.

Forsythe dives under the tag of Angels' second baseman Johnny Giavotella./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Forsythe dives under the tag of Angels' second baseman Johnny Giavotella./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

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