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Evan Longoria: 2012 Disappointment

The competition for biggest disappointment of 2012 is a tough one. Names like Roy Halladay, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum, and John Axford come to mind. The one who sticks out most to me, and admittedly it may be because I’m a Rays fan, is Evan Longoria.

It certainly wasn’t performance based. Longoria hit .289/.369/.527 in his time this year, the highest OPS of his career. The issue was the amount of time he was actually on the field. You see, thanks to a torn hamstring he played in just 74 games. At the plate he showed no lingering effects from the injury – his .378 wOBA was fourth among third basemen (min. 300PA). His legs were understandably effected as he wasn’t able to run with the speed or aggressiveness we’re used to seeing. He missed out on a few extra bases and runs because of it.

Despite those good results he was still a disappointment. If you draft him early or spend a high percentage of your budget on a player you expect them to play the whole season and Longoria failed to do so. Zach Sanders was kind enough to run the calculations for Longoria separately because he didn’t meet the playing time requirement to be included in the full rankings provided yesterday. Longoria’s worth? -$1 thanks to this provision: “These rankings are meant to reflect a player’s value should he have occupied this spot in your lineup for the entire year. So, a player who missed time due to injury but put up great numbers during his time on the field would be worth less.”

That places him in a group, plus or minus $1, with Kevin Youkilis, Jeff Keppinger and Chris Nelson. That’s not what owners envisioned on draft day.

At the start of last season it did look like Longoria was going to be a world beater, hitting .329/.433/.561 in April. He struggled upon his return in August with an OPS of just .719 but returned to form in September and October with a .953 OPS and eight home runs. His good plate discipline has a lot to do with that. Despite his O-Swing% rising each of the last four years it’s still well under league average, though interestingly enough his Swing% has dropped each year as well. Even with the missed time Longoria ranks third in home runs, second in RBI and eighth in runs scored for third basemen from 2008-2012.

He should report to spring training fully healed. He was fully healed and in the “best shape of his life” at the beginning of last season as well after missing a month with an oblique injury. He still played in 133 games in 2011, but this is now two seasons in a row where he’s missed significant time. That may creep into the mind of a fantasy owner come draft day and could be something you can take advantage of at a discount. If he can stay on the field there’s no reason he can’t put up a full season of the numbers we saw this year.