The Tampa Bay Rays were expected to be competing in the American League East and as one of the better teams in the MLB this season. However, through the first month of the season it didn’t really appear that was the case. They were just 16-18 at one point and near the bottom of the division standings.
In their 10 games since that time, though, the Rays have gotten hot and have improved their overall record by going 7-3 over that time. Now at 23-21 overall, the Rays trail the division-leading New York Yankees by just five games. They also have one of the best hitters in the game right now, Evan Longoria.
Longoria played in just 74 games in the majors last season and played relatively well, but wasn’t at the All-Star level that many people have come to expect from him. He hit .289 last year with a .369 OBP and .896 OPS. He also hit just 17 home runs, knocked in 55 RBIs, and scored just 39 runs.
He’s come out of the gate red-hot this season, though, and would be on his way to one of his best seasons as a pro if he kept it up. He’s currently hitting .331 with a .395 OBP and .975 OPS. He’s also already hit nine home runs, drove in 29 runs, and scored 32 runs. He’s not only been able to hit with power, but for more average than he has ever before in his career.
One of the reasons that he’s hitting for a better average this season is the fact that his plate discipline has improved greatly. He’s still swinging at 63.5 percent of pitches in the strike zone, close to his season average, but his swing percentage outside of the strike zone has dropped from 27.5 percent last year to 20.7 percent this season. That shows that he has had a great eye at the plate this season and it has shown in the results.
The Rays seem to be getting things turned around lately and Longoria producing at this level is an enormous part of that. Longoria is playing like one of the best third basemen in the game after a mildly disappointing 2012 season and Tampa Bay needs to capitalize on it and get things in gear.