For the third straight season, Evan Longoria will not be representing the Tampa Bay Rays at the Midsummer Classic.
That fact would not be anything out of the norm for the vast majority of MLB players, but the reason why this should be of particular concern to the Rays is that Longoria is not the vast majority of major leagues. In fact, you could make a pretty strong argument that the 27-year old is one of, if not the very best overall third baseman in the entire game today, even with Miguel Cabrera chasing consecutive Triple Crowns.
Longoria had made three straight All-Star appearances, but the fact is that bad luck and injuries have prevented him from continuing that streak over the last two seasons.
That is … until this year, anyway.
If you were going to make a case against the snub of uber-talented third baseman at the gathering of the league’s best on Tuesday in New York City, this season would be it. Though he’d seemed like he was destined for the game even towards the end of June with a .307/.366/.562 triple-slash, a combination of ineffectiveness and — you guessed it — injury definitely slowed his final push for the midseason competition.
Nevermind that he had to be competing against folks like Miggy and Manny Machado, which is already quite a gauntlet; but with just one homer in the 13 games he played since missing part of a weekend with a flare-up of plantar fasciitis in his right foot, something isn’t quite right here.
Actually, it might have even been bothering him in the days prior, as he’s currently on a major slump, failing to hit in 11 of his last 18 contests going back into June 23. After hitting 13 doubles in May, he’s managed just one in his last 59 at-bats, and the .149/.286/.234 triple-slash over the first half of July thus far has dragged his numbers down to .278/.356/.507 overall.
Those are still pretty great numbers considering that he has 18 homers to go with it, but whether they’re All-Star worthy? Well, that’s another story.
The good news, though, is that this might actually end up being a blessing in disguise for the Rays, as Longoria will be able to take the few days off to really rest his ailing foot, something that he has said he’s played with for much of the season. With the injury troubles he’s had over the last couple of years, this can’t possibly a bad thing.
Considering that the offense, even with Ben Zobrist and Wil Myers in tow, still begins and ends with Longo … I’m sure the team would be okay with having one less All-Star if it means he’ll play like one in the second half.