This season will be Tampa Bay Ray‘s third basemen Evan Longoria‘s eighth year in the big leagues. Longoria is the face of the Rays franchise, and helped the club move away from the “devilish days” of Tampa Bay baseball. He has played his entire career for the Tampa Bay franchise, but what exactly will his legacy be when he finishes his professional career?
Longoria is in his age 29 year and right smack in the middle of a 15-year $144.5 million dollar contract. He broke into the league in 2008 under then manager Joe Maddon. Longoria was Kris Bryant, before there was a Kris Bryant. These days, a case can be made that he is flying under most people’s radars. Is it because he is lost in the Tampa Bay landscape, or is his once elite status really starting to diminish?
When he was called up in 2008, Longoria was the talk of baseball as the next big thing. He won the Rookie of the Year award while leading the Rays to the World Series. Since that time, the Rays have still been postseason threats, but with a constant overturning of the lineup, Longoria has been somewhat lost in the shuffle of the big league landscape. In his first three years, Longoria was an All-Star each season. Since then, he has not been a part of the Midsummer Classic festivities. How can an elite players at his position no longer be in All-Star discussions?
After losing much of his 2012 year, Lon-Go has only missed two games total in the last two plus seasons. That alone should keep him relevant, right? Still, that may not be good enough for the one-time phenom. While the power numbers are still respectable, the batting average has dipped significantly since 2010. What could also be the result of the lineup surrounding him, Longoria has also been unable to reach the 100-RBI mark since the 2010 campaign. Given the market he plays in, and all of the money invested in the slugger, is Longoria still the type of player that a team can be built around, or is he now just a complimentary piece in the grand scheme of a 162-game season?
When his stock was highest, the small market Rays locked up their star long-term. Longoria chose to stay with the only organization he has ever played for rather than test the market. Unlike many before him, he chose not to be a big fish in a big pond with the likes of the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, but continue to be the big fish in a very small pond. The same can be said of Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, and Giancarlo Stanton with the Miami Marlins. Like Longoria, the stock of Mauer has started to slide as well after his mega-deal. In time, could Stanton also fall to the same fate?
Longoria has been in the middle of some dramatic moments throughout his career, and while his career is nowhere near the end, is his place in the game already determined? While Longoria seems to have fallen from All-Star discussions, and early fantasy pick discussions, is he still in potential Hall of Fame discussions? Is Longoria still elite, or is now just a very good player? In the age of what have you done for me lately, what has Longoria done lately?