SF Giants Gifts: Evan Longoria Flyball Luck
Evan Longoria appeared to have another unexceptional season for the Giants. He posted a .254/.297/.425 line while offering strong defense at the hot corner. However, more advanced statistics made an argument that Longoria was playing like one of the best third basemen in the league. While he finished the season in a bit of a slump, Statcast still believed he was a far more productive player than his final numbers suggested.
On the season, Longoria posted his best average exit velocity since MLB began tracking such data in 2015. Expected batting average and slugging percentage, which utilize batted-ball data to estimate a hitter’s statistics, both were far higher on Longoria than traditional statistics. Nowhere was that starker than with home runs.
Longoria was easily the Giants unluckiest home run hitter in 2020. According to Baseball Savant, Longoria hit 15 flyballs classified as possible home runs, ranking fourth on the team. However, he finished the season with just seven big flies, ranking sixth on the roster. If just two more of Longoria’s hits had gone for home runs, his OPS would have jumped by 50 points this season.
Assuming the Giants can get their third baseman to continue hitting the ball as hard as he did in 2020, the team should expect to see far better from the three-time All-Star. Given his age, it’s hard to envision him returning to the levels he played at in his younger days with the Tampa Bay Rays, but if 2020 taught Giants fans anything, it’s never to give up on veteran players.