Slugged 32 homers in leading Rays to fourth postseason in six years
ST. PETERSBURG -- A season that Evan Longoria once deemed "a little personally disappointing" wound up producing a sixth-place finish in the American League Most Valuable Player voting.
Longoria recorded 103 points on the Baseball Writers' Association of America ballot, unveiled Thursday night on MLB Network. That put him behind Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (385 points), Angels outfielder Mike Trout (282), Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (232), A's third baseman Josh Donaldson (222) and Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano (150).
He received four fifth-place votes, six sixth-place votes, six seventh-place votes, four eighth-place votes, five ninth-place votes and three 10th-place votes. That put him just ahead of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who came in tied for seventh with 99 points.
Longoria's sixth-place finish this year is tied for the highest of his career, matching where he placed in 2010. It's likely not a coincidence that it's also the first time since 2010 that he's played essentially a full season.
Longoria put together a .269/.343/.498 batting line with 32 homers and 88 RBIs, leading the Rays in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage. But the 28-year-old third baseman and face of Tampa Bay's franchise was particularly proud of a different statistic: his career-high 160 games played, a figure that became even more important to him after he played only 74 games in an injury-riddled 2012 campaign.
"I never Google myself or anything or look at any numbers. I don't really care about my numbers at the end of the year, but that's actually a number that I really focused on," Longoria said the day after Tampa Bay's season ended against Boston in the AL Division Series. "I've talked about it in the past, especially at the beginning of this year ... how important it was for me to be on the field and be healthy this year."
Yet Longoria observed that it was probably his most inconsistent year since breaking into the Majors in 2008. His overall numbers were impressive, but he went through extreme highs and lows throughout the year. From April 2 to July 2, Longoria hit a .301/.371/.549 with 17 homers and 47 RBIs compared to .237/.316/.448 with 15 homers and 41 RBIs the rest of the regular season.
Still, there's little doubt that Longoria's presence in the lineup and his Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base was extremely valuable for the Rays, who won 92 games, finished second in the AL East and reached the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
"I said at the beginning of the year that I feel like I'm able to positively impact the game, whether or not I'm performing, at least just being on the field and being able to be a part of the leadership group that we have here and kind of influence the game that way," Longoria said.