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SF Giants Evan Longoria Is Playing Like A Star Again

SF Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
SF Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Evan Longoria
SF Giants third baseman Evan Longoria is playing like the star he was in Tampa Bay. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

SF Giants fans may have noticed starting third baseman Evan Longoria is amidst a resurgent season, but the deeper you dive into the numbers, the more he looks like a star. Just how well is he playing?

The SF Giants strong close to the first half of the season pulled the team into playoff contention and justified one of the quietest deadlines in team history. As they head into the final stretch of the regular season they’ll be reliant on the continued success of many veterans having resurgent campaigns.

While players like Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt have received most of the attention for their recent hot streaks, third baseman Evan Longoria is quietly having his best season since 2016. Here are some of Longoria’s numbers with the last year he eclipsed such a mark in parenthesis:

Batting Average: .299 (career-high)
On-Base Percentage: .339 (2013)
Slugging Percentage: .495 (2016)
Isolated Power: .196 (2016)
OPS+: 127 (2016)
Strikeout Rate: 14.4% (career-high)

Longoria isn’t just hitting for more power than he ever has with the Giants, but is also making contact at the highest rate of his career. With more balls in play, he’s earning more base hits as well. To get a fuller picture of Longoria’s production, here are his numbers this season paced over a 150-game span:

Name                   PA    AB     R      H   2B  3B  HR   RBI   BB   K     AVG   OBP   SLG
Evan Longoria   590  535  90  160  35   5    20    95    35   85   .299   .339  .495

Yet, as solid as those numbers are, they don’t tell the full story. According to Baseball Savant, Longo has been one of the unluckiest players in baseball.

Baseball Savant’s expected statistics use batted-ball data to calculate a player’s expected batting average and slugging percentage based on the exit velocity and launch angle of their contact. Longoria’s expected batting average is .314 (in the 95th percentile among qualified hitters) and his expected slugging percentage is .604 (90th percentile). Those marks wouldn’t just be career highs in both categories, they’d blow his previous bests out of the water.

His expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA), which attempts to quantify how many runs a player produces per plate appearance, of .408 is the 3rd best mark among MLB third baseman (behind just Manny Machado and Justin Turner).

Longoria’s numbers are easily the best since Baseball Savant has begun recording batted-ball data in 2015, but it’s also outpacing his peak production with the Tampa Bay Rays. His career-best wOBA is just .378.

Surprisingly, Longoria is showing the same return to form on the defensive side of the ball too. FanGraphs‘ Def metric calculates a player’s defensive value relative to a league-average player. This season, Longoria has been MLB’s fifth-best defensive third baseman (behind Nolan Arenado, Matt Chapman, Gio Urshela, and Anthony Rendon) at 2.9 runs above league-average. Paced over a 162-game season, Longoria is playing defense on par with his peak years from 2008-2011.

Set to turn 35-years old later this year, it was hard to imagine Longoria ever reaching his peak again. Now, the question isn’t if he can, but how long can he sustain it for?

Owed roughly $15 million a year in 2021 and 2022 under his current contract with a $13 million club option for 2023, which includes a $5MM buyout, Longoria’s contract appeared heavily underwater. If he keeps this up, it may turn into an amazing value.

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On the surface, SF Giants third baseman Evan Longoria is producing like an above-average everyday player. Yet, a deeper dive into the numbers reveals even more exciting news for fans. Longoria appears to be performing on par with his prime years in Tampa Bay.

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