Evan Longoria Injury: Tampa Bay Rays' Playoff Hopes May Be Lost with Star on DL

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIMay 1, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 30:  Infielder Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays bats against the Seattle Mariners during the game at Tropicana Field on April 30, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

With Evan Longoria expected to miss anywhere from six to eight weeks with a hamstring injury, the Tampa Bay Rays are left without their most consistent offensive performer.

Longoria's April put him in the running as an early AL MVP candidate, but any chances of that happening now seem slim to none.

Through 23 games in April, Longoria launched four home runs, compiled 19 RBI, hit seven doubles and put together a line of .329/.433/.561.

He is the offensive leader of a team that usually doesn't score too many runs, and there's no doubt that his absence will be missed.

As with the loss of any superstar, the victim's team will likely perform at a lower level.

Take Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder away from the Tigers, Robinson Cano away from the Yankees or Matt Kemp away from the Dodgers, and it's likely that the respective teams will all suffer.

The Rays, though, will suffer even more than the aforementioned teams.

Currently, the Rays are 15-8 and atop the AL East.

By the time Longoria is scheduled to come back (six weeks for the sake of argument), the Rays will have gone up against the Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees two times each.

The loss of Longoria won't inhibit the team's ability to hold opposing offenses to a small amount of runs, but it will hurt the team's ability to score enough to earn wins.

Those games against their divisional foes will likely put them in a deep hole behind the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox, and it could even see them in a tie with the Blue Jays.

By the time he returns sometime in July, there may not be enough time for the Rays make up the deficit.

Then again, they could pull another miracle comeback like they did last season.

It's very unlikely, though, and the Rays may be out of luck in absence of their superstar player.