Small sample sizes are not ideal, but they are, occasionally, all we have to work with.
Or rather, they are, occasionally, all we have to work with if we want to find a desirable outcome - a pedal of optimism blooming from the weedy field that is horrific September baseball.
Enter Evan Longoria.
We’ve gone over the questionable offseason trade ad nauseam. We’ve gone over his 1982 Fiat-slow start to the season ad nauseam. We’ve gone over the drunk-frat-bro-trying-to-walk-down-a-spiral-staircase struggles post broken hand ad nauseam.
So let’s talk about something good. Don’t worry, it won’t be ad nauseam. This will be my only positive Evan Longoria article until the next one. I promise.
Longoria has been playing pretty well lately. In case you missed it, he hit this absolute doozy of a dinger last night:
But that’s not it. Longoria has been, slowly but surely, turning around his season.
Since August 21 - a date I arbitrarily chose because it helps make my point stronger - Longo is slashing .261/.316/.477, good for an OPS of .794 (which would lead the team, it’s worth noting) in 97 plate appearances. His wRC+ has been 107.
But wait! It gets better if you make the sample size smaller.
Since the start of the month - a date society arbitrarily chose when they broke the year down into months - Longo is slashing .286/.339/.482, with an OPS of .821 and a wRC+ of 117.
A small sample size obviously tells us that these numbers may not be sustainable, and may not mean anything at all. But they also tell us that he’s trending in a very clear direction. For a player only two years removed from a wRC+ season of 123, it’s not entirely unthinkable (though still a bit unlikely) that he could rebound to be a comfortably above-average hitter.
Perhaps most encouragingly, during that time frame Longoria has been returning to some old habits, and not showing signs of unsustainability. His walk rate, unfortunate all year, has spiked in recent weeks.
He’s hitting the ball all over the field, hitting the ball hard, and yet doesn’t have a red flag of a BABIP. He’s been coming across this success earnestly.
It’s the time of year where you primarily turn on the Giants to watch the youngsters like Chris Shaw and Andrew Suarez try to grow their games and earn future roles, or to watch veterans like Gregor Blanco and Hunter Pence play their final games in orange and black.
But Longoria - a player under contract for the next few decades, give or take - is worth watching. He’s a big part of this team going forward, like it or not, for better or for worse. Every day that he looks like an above-average third baseman is an additional ray of hope for the 2019 Giants.