Two Major League Baseball mangers have a little bit different perspectives about James Loney. When Loney played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Joe Torre commented, “James Loney is a good defensive player,” but “on offense he had a lot of room for growth.”
On the other hand, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon said, “I was really impressed with his at-bats.”
To say Loney can be a great player is obvious. With the Dodgers, he was a proven player. In 2007, he came in sixth for the Rookie of the Year votes. His numbers were an amazing, posting a .331/.381/.538 SLG triple-slash. Loney also had 67 RBIs, and 15 HRs. He accomplished all this in only 96 games. The Dodgers were very excited about their 23-year old rookie sensation.
A lot has changed at the plate since then. From 2008-2011, Loney raised his RBI total and playing time, but his batting average dropped every year. Playing full-time seems to have affected Loney somehow. This shining star in LA had lost his luster. Fans watched Loney’s batting average plummet 43 points, and his RBI total fall by 25.
He was traded to the Boston Red Sox and had a disappointing 2012. But for the Rays who were just recovering from a Carlos Pena hangover, Loney looks like a welcome change. Face it, Pena and his .197 BA hurt the Rays last year, so Loney, even with his .230 BA in Beantown, looks real good.
But what if Loney could hit like he did in LA? His batting average was .291 in five years with the Dodgers. That’s what makes this look so promising.
If Loney can find his swing again, how far can the Rays go?