Longoria Back In Swing Of Things
Like a number of things related to the Rays, the first two months of the season did not go as planned for Evan Longoria. At the close of business on May 31, he was hitting just .260/.322/.370 with 12 extra-base hits in 242 plate appearances. Pitches that he previously punished – most notably on the inner and lower halves – were now being used against him.
June 1 seems like a convenient cutoff, but since the current month began, Longoria is hitting a Longoria-like .287/.367/.500. He has nine extra-base hits including four home runs over his last 80 at-bats. His strikeouts are down and his walks are up. Offerings on the inner half are being handled as trespassers and sentenced accordingly. Of the nine extra-base hits from this month, seven have been categorized as inner half. He had five entering June.
Typically with a player of Longoria’s caliber, time will heal all slump-related wounds unless there’s an actual wound causing the poor performance. The 28-year-old has been healthy (knock on wood if you believe in such things) for most of the season or at least healthy enough to play everyday. Still, instead of waiting for father time to change his fortunes, Longoria has made some visual tweaks that may have speed along the correction process.
This set first images is from May 8. Longoria, with a open stance and hands near his cheeks, hits a groundball that is converted into a double play.
The next set is from Sunday. Longoria has closed his stance and his hands sit high and deep. In (my untrained mind) theory this would make loading his hands – think of bringing them back before firing through the zone – a shorter process and allow him to get the barrel in the zone sooner and for a longer amount of time. With this setup, Longoria nets himself an RBI single on an inside changeup.
The Rays are likely to fall short of the lofty goals set by – and for – themselves this season. Meanwhile, if Evan Longoria continues to hit like Evan Longoria they at least have a chance of going down with better swings.