And suddenly, the Rays made their big stretch-run addition:
Evan Longoria will be activated tomorrow. Rays went 41-44 without him, scoring 3.86 R/G. With him, they went 15-8 and scored 4.61 R/G.
— Dave Haller (@HallerDave) August 6, 2012
The simple truth: the Rays are getting back their best hitter. This is great news for anyone who has been frustrated by the team’s ongoing offensive woes, which reached perhaps their most frustrating point in this weekend’s series against Baltimore—two runs over three games. It’s hard not to beam at the thought of seeing Longoria on the field in a Rays uniform again, and what that means for the Rays’ playoff chances.
The not so simple truth: the Evan Longoria we see may not resemble the one we want to see. The early word is that Longoria will, at least initially, be a designated hitter, and that he’ll require frequent days off while he readjusts to the daily grind. While his workload will likely increase, it’s hard to imagine the team taking any chances with him on defense (especially as long as usual DH Luke Scott remains inactive). Longoria as a top-tier defensive third-baseman may not surface again until 2013.
Longoria’s baserunning may also be hampered. Though he’s never been a fast runner, Longoria has in the past demonstrated solid instincts on the basepaths. As long as the hamstring is of any concern, don’t expect a lot of attempts to steal a base or take an extra one. Longoria has also shown a propensity to ground into double plays—he’s twice led the team in that category since his debut in 2008, finishing third last year. Do expect a few twin-killings.
The Rays decided at some point that Longoria would likely not be 100 percent again this season. This decision probably came a while ago. You don’t make a trade with a singular purpose, but it’s easy to see how the acquisition of third base-capable Ryan Roberts fits with a plan to get Longoria’s bat in the lineup at any cost. You’ll likely see in-game adjustments planned around Longoria—expect aggressive baserunning ahead of him to avoid the potential for double plays.
No one should expect the usual Longoria; the one we saw when the team went 15-8 and scored 4.61 runs per game. But the Rays need runs, and even a fractional Longoria should help the team produce runs. With tempered expectations, fans have reason to celebrate.