Moving right along with the San Francisco Giants season reviews. Next up is third baseman Evan Longoria.
53 games, 209 plate appearances, .254/.297/.425, .722 OPS, 7 home runs, 28 RBI, 11 walks to 39 strikeouts
97 OPS+, 94 wRC+, 0.5 rWAR, 0.8 fWAR
Status throughout the season
Longoria started the year on the Injured List, and was activated on July 30. He stayed on the roster until the end of the year.
Ever the optimist, I thought this season was a great chance for Longoria to have something of a bounce back year.
Ever the pessimists, most Giants fans disagreed and thought his trend of regression would continue.
And what happened? Something smack dab in the middle. Longoria was almost exactly the same player in 2020 as he was in 2019. The batting average was identical. The on-base percentage dropped .028 points, and the slugging percentage dropped .012 points. The walk rate dropped a bit, but the strikeout rate followed it. The defensive metrics were just about the same.
He was a below-average offensive player with some pop, an above-average defensive player, and a perfectly acceptable but not dynamic starting third baseman.
That said, there’s reason to think Longoria is better than what was on display in 2020. He missed much of Summer Camp and the first week of the season due to an oblique strain, and when he finally returned he admitted he was still in a fair amount of pain, but said, “I’m as healthy as I’m going to get at this point.” Not exactly encouraging.
Give him an offseason to rest up, and maybe things will go more smoothly next year, especially since he may not have to play every day (after returning from injury, Longoria played in 53 of the team’s 54 remaining games, and started 50 of them).
Despite the injury, Longoria started the season hot, hitting 6-14 with 2 doubles and 1 home run in his first 4 games. He then cooled off, but remained hot and cold all year.
From Aug. 14 through Sept. 2, a span of 18 games, Longo hit 26-70, with 5 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 home runs, good for an OPS of 1.008.
And then he hit a wall, finishing the year with a .551 OPS over the final 21 games.
It’s hard to blame a player for hitting a wall when they’re battling an injury, in a pandemic season, and don’t get any rest because the backup at the position is unplayable.
And while Longoria’s bat may have been a bit of a disappointment, it only took a week of Wilmer Flores and Donovan Solano trying to field grounders at third in his absence to remember how important he is to this team.
He wasn’t great. But he certainly wasn’t bad either. At this point he’s not an asset, but definitely not a problem.
Role in 2021
Longoria’s still owed a fair amount of money — enough that the Giants probably can’t trade him unless they attach a prospect to him. And I see absolutely no reason why they would do that.
So he’ll be on the roster, and a key part of the team. He probably won’t play as much though. On Tuesday, the Giants announced the signing of left-handed third baseman Jason Vosler, who can platoon a little bit with Longoria at third (Longo, it’s worth noting, had a .859 OPS against lefties in 2020).
It’s hard to see Longoria being a full platoon option; he’s too good with the glove, and Vosler is too unproven for Longo to just be a once-a-series option. But he likely won’t be out there six days a week anymore.
How would you grade Evan Longoria’s season?
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