I've been trying—for weeks now—to pry Evan Longoria from a rival fantasy owner in my keeper league.
Officially, it's too late.
The third-base prospect with loads of talent has hit his stride, and there simply isn't any turning back. There's just that moment in every great prospect's career when you say to yourself, "he'll never be in the minors again." And when that happens after 259 at-bats, you know he's really special.
Based on the Yahoo! fantasy format, Longoria has soared up the rankings in a matter of weeks. What once was still a player ranked in the triple digits, he currently sits at No. 76, and that's a player who didn't play in the first 20 games this season.
For his season average, which can be a better indicator when a player doesn't play a significant amount of games, he sits at No. 49 on the season.
Over the last month, Longoria has been ranked as Yahoo!'s 18th best player in all of baseball, and that's for a rookie. A kid who's facing the best pitchers the world has to offer. He has hit .300, with eight HR and 19 RBI, and has also scored 19 runs.
He's hitting for average, power, and now he's got a healthy and revitalized Carl Crawford hitting in front of him. It's only going to get better for Longoria owners now.
As I said, I've been trying and trying to get Longoria before this happened. But I guess I wasn't the smarter fantasy owner.
Recently, I had offered up Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino for Longoria and Dan Haren. I figured that Howard was a proven HR hitter and Victorino could provide a lot of runs and a lot of steals. I couldn't just give up Howard for a rookie straight up, so I had to ask for Haren, too.
Maybe I shouldn't have asked for Haren after all.
Over the last seven days, Longoria has produced three homers, 10 RBI, 27 total bases, 13 hits, seven runs, one stolen base, and a .433 average.
Yeah, that makes him No 1. You guessed it.
There are downsides to his game. And I must point these out to try and make myself feel better for not having him.
He doesn't walk as much as a stud hitter should, and he strikes out more than a quarter of the time. Which probably means his downside is something closer to Ryan Howard. But more than likely, he will hit for a much higher average than Howard, and the walks will come with the respect.
There's another player who he almost resembles perfectly, from a fantasy perspective: Ryan Braun.
Braun came on the scene early last year and fully exceeded expectations. Once he hit his stride, the manager was never going to trade him unless he got A-Rod in return. Now Braun is ranked 10th overall. 13th on the 2008 season. A-Rod is ranked 29th for the year in the Yahoo! game.
In a keeper league, it's imperative to get these guys while they're young so you don't have to give up as much. But also to move at the right time. In our league, Tim Lincecum was dealt straight up for Jay Bruce. One of those guys could win the Cy Young, and the other may need more seasoning in the minors.
But Longoria won't be headed to the minors any time soon. And this certainly doesn't look like a case of the Burrells. This looks like the Rays made a great move by signing him long term early on, and they will have gotten a great discount. This looks like Braun of 2007, and it feels like it Pujols in 2001.
If you are lucky, maybe in your league you can trade your top pitcher and your third baseman to pry away Longoria. (I don't place much value on pitchers. They come around 10 times as often as a Longoria.) I sure wish that I had.