Batting Sixth: Evan Longoria, third base
While he was surrounded by players posting career seasons, Evan Longoria was far more solid than exceptional for the Giants. The third baseman played excellent defense at the hot corner but batted just .254/.297/.425. At one point though, it looked like he was in the middle of a resurgent season of his own.
He struggled a bit down the stretch, but according to Baseball Savant’s data Longoria was in the top fifth of the league across the board. This season, Longoria’s xBA was .284 and his xSLG was .530. He posted the highest average exit-velocity of his career since at least 2014 (there is no data prior to 2015). At the same time, he posted the third-lowest strikeout rate of his 13 MLB seasons.
One thing to watch is his recent trend towards strong platoon splits. While early in his career Longoria was nearly as good against right-handed pitchers as southpaws, over the last couple of seasons, he has had far more success against left-handed pitchers. In 2020, he hit .303/.339/.518 against lefties. That probably played a role in the Giants early-offseason addition of left-handed-hitting infielder Jason Vosler.
Longoria continues to be an elite defensive third baseman and does not need to be a great hitter to be a solid player. However, if the Giants are looking anywhere for positive regression next season, he probably has the best case. 2020 may have been the year for players like Yastrzemski and Belt, but 2021 could be the season for Longoria to exceed expectations.