Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria and His Baffling 2011 Season

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Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria and His Baffling 2011 Season
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 19: Infielder Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays has an RBI single against the Seattle Mariners during the game at Tropicana Field on August 19, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Evan Longoria's season continues to be one of the most confounding of the year. Coming into Tuesday's game with the Tigers, Longoria has produced the worst line of his four-year career, .234/.329/.465. Despite the drop in production, he has clubbed 21 home runs this season and his wRC+ of 120 is not far behind his career rate of wRC+ of 131.

Injuries have nagged Longoria through most of the 2011 season as evident in his career low stolen base totals, but there is a lack of evidence that they have robbed him of his overall offensive production. The fact remains that Longoria's 2011 season has been influenced most by poor luck. 

A .232 BABIP has negatively impacted his batting average throughout most of the season, and that has dropped in every month since May. His line drive rate of 17.5 percent is a career low, but that rate is only slightly below the league average. Furthermore, Longoria produced a line drive rate of 20.8 percent in June but he only .225 average on balls put in play. His .232 BABIP is significantly lower than his .309 career rate, and it is the third lowest in all of baseball among qualified hitters.  

Despite a drop in batting average, Longoria has improved both his walk and strikeout rates this season. His strikeout rate dropped from 18.8 to 16.9 percent (a career low) this season, while his walk rate improved from 10.9 percent in 2010 to a career high 11.6 percent this season. Additionally, Longoria's power has improved since 2010 as his ISO increased from .213 in 2010 to .231 while his HR/FB ratio of 15.7 percent this season is his career ratio. 

I expect Longoria to have a better average in September as his luck is bound to improve, but his overall numbers will be down this season. He should finish with a line close to .245/.340/.475 and 27-29 home runs. This season will depreciate Longoria's overall fantasy value next season, but he should be considered a buy low candidate entering next season's draft. 

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