The Tampa Bay Rays are one of baseball’s best teams this season… until now. Their star, Evan Longoria, will miss 4-8 weeks with a partial tear in his hamstring. The injury occurred when Evan Longoria was attempting a slide into second base, pulling up lame before even reaching the base.
This will be a huge blow to the Rays, who are first place in the American League East with a 15-8 record. Along with rightfielder Matt Joyce, Longoria tops the Rays in fWAR so far this season at 1.0. But since I’ve been moving away from WAR recently, let’s look at this differently.
The Rays are good team, but they are dependent on left-handed hitting. Players like Carlos Pena, Matt Joyce, and Ben Zobrist (switch-hitter) are the main cogs in that offense from the left side, but their right-handed hitting is suspect without Longoria anchoring the middle of that line-up. Desmond Jennings and BJ Upton are decent bats from the right side, but other than that there is no one that strikes fear in the hearts of left-handed pitching.
The Rays will be without not only their best right-handed hitter for possibly two months, but also their best fielder and all-around player. It’s pretty obvious that Carlos Pena and Matt Joyce will slow down, so where will the Rays get their offense? Your guess is as good as mine, because it certainly won’t be from Sean Rodriguez, Jeff Keppinger, Jose Molina, and the other replacement players they have on their roster.
This injury might put the Rays out of the AL East race already. As Herman Boone said in Remember the Titans, you can’t replace a Gary Berttier, just as the Rays can’t replace an Evan Longoria. The New York Yankees are better as is – and now with this injury – this keeps the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox right in the thick of things. Oh, forgot to mention, the Baltimore Orioles are second place with a 14-9 record.
To recap, Rays are extremely susceptible to left-handed pitching, Evan Longoria can’t be replace, AL East teams rejoice.