San Francisco Giants third basemen Evan Longoria struggled in his first season with the team. However, there is reason to believe he can rebound.
When the San Francisco Giants traded for Longoria, they were hoping to get a middle-of-the-order threat. While he hit in the middle of the order, the threat never seemed to be real.
In his first season with the club, Longoria posted a .244/.281/.413 slash line with 16 home runs. He actually led the team in home runs. This was moderately impressive as he spent 6 weeks of the season on the shelf with a broken hand.
Longoria struggled at Oracle Park. He is not the first, and will not be the last who struggles at Oracle. His home and road splits were significant. On the road, Longoria had a .757 OPS, whereas he only had a .615 OPS at home.
The bat still has a little thump in it when he is not playing at Oracle Park. In addition to his bat, Longoria did record a 1.9 WAR. So, he offered some value to the team
A lot of his value came with the glove. He recorded 7 defensive runs saved (DRS), which was tied for first among qualifying National League third basemen. Despite a slow start, his glove earned positive marks. This should not be surprising as he is a three time Gold Glove winner and looked the part by the end of the season.
In a nutshell, Longoria offered a mix bag. He struggled with the bat, especially at home. However, the glove should continue to be a plus.
Given that he is 33-years-old, it is fair to wonder whether his bat can improve upon last year’s production. For what it is worth, Steamer projects Longoria to hit to the tune of a .736 OPS and be worth 2.1 WAR.
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With those figures, the bat would be in line for a modest rebound. So, there is some optimism. There are other reasons to believe he can hit better in 2019, too.
Longoria’s walk rate has been on a steady decline for years, and that is one area he really needs to improve. Even at this stage in his career. However, Longoria’s posted a 19.7% strikeout rate in 2018, which is about his career norm. Despite struggling at the plate, the good news is he did not see a major spike in his strike out rate.
Longoria still consistently made quality contact. His hard hit rate was at 41.1% which is the second highest of his career. It is possible he hit into a lot of bad luck.
He had a .274 BABIP, which is much lower than his .297 career BABIP so some bad luck could have been a factor. Though, Longoria continues to generate high groundball rates. At a 42.4% groundball rate in 2018, Longoria hit a lot of hard baseballs into the defensive shifts.
Longoria would seem to benefit from getting more lift in his swing. Thereby generating more fly balls. After all, we are in the midst of the fly ball revolution. All of the cool kids are doing it.
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With Spring Training games right around the corner, Longoria seems poised to prove he still has something left in the tank. He still offers premium value with the glove. The bat has been hit-or-miss in recent seasons. Though, if his bat can improve from last season’s production, that would be good news for the San Francisco Giants.