Drafted in the first round of the 2002 amateur draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, James Loney has had an underrated career. Since being drafted, the first baseman has played for three different teams: the Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Loney, 29, had the opportunity to sign elsewhere in free agency over the winter, but he opted to re-sign with the Rays after no other teams gave him an offer worth taking. Other than the Rays, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers showed the most interest in the first baseman.
Prior to being promoted by the Dodgers, Loney spent six seasons in the minor leagues. In 2,468 plate appearances between four different levels, Loney hit .296/.363/.430 triple-slash line. Never really viewed as an elite prospect, Loney never reached higher than 34 on Baseball America’s preseason prospects lists.
Since being promoted, Loney has played eight MLB seasons — six with the Dodgers, one with the Rays and one season split between the Dodgers and Red Sox. In 4,082 career plate appearances, Loney has hit for a .285/.340/.421 triple-slash line with a 105 wRC+. His best season came in 2007 with the Dodgers when he would hit .331/.381/.538 with a 137 wRC+ in 375 plate appearances.
Along with being above-average offensively, Loney is also good with the glove at first base. In his eight seasons, Loney has saved 37 runs above average. He also has very good range with a career 8.6 UZR.
Loney is never going to be an MVP candidate for his respective team, but he will always be a steady force in a lineup as well as a good glove at first base. For the Rays, that’s all they need him to be.