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Longoria Returns

Last night, Evan Longoria returned to the Rays after missing 85 games with a torn hamstring. He was the DH and went 1 for 3 with an RBI. For some fantasy owners his return may be too late to really help them (#raiseshand). For others, he may provide a much needed boost. Besides being one of the top 3B options, his return has implications on other Tampa Bay players.

Evan Longoria – Not a lot has changed in Longoria’s value from the beginning of the season. He will mainly be the DH for now. He will begin playing 3B “right around the corner”, but Longoria and the team have not given a specific time frame for his return.

Even if he is the DH for the rest of season, he has already played 23 games at 3B. With 20 games usually the max games needed for position eligibility in most fantasy leagues, he will remain 3B eligible for next season.

For his offensive production, I think people should have tempered exceptions. Before getting hurt, he was putting up a triple slash line of .329/.426/.553. All three of those values would be career highs for him and were being fueled by a 0.375 BABIP. I would not expect him to return to this production level.

His ZiPS ROS season projection has him at .279/.377/.515. The OBP and SLG would be down for the season, but both would be career highs. The power value may need to be tempered a bit more because of the injury. Historically, hitters have seen a drop in their power numbers when returning from the DL. This drop is not a reason to not play him. He will probably be a top 3B in production over the rest of the season. Owners should just keep expectations in check.

Additionally, I would expect no steals from this year with the hamstring injury. No reason exists for him or the Rays to risk further injury this season.

DH – Jeff Keppinger and Luke Scott – The DH position has been pretty dismissal for the Rays this season. They have hit a combined .216/.273/.372. Luke Scott has had the most games at DH with 62. He has been a disappointment by hitting .225/.279/.438 with 12 HRs. He has been hampered by injuries all season and is currently on this 2nd DL stint.

Since Scott has been on the DL, the Rays have primarily used Jeff Keppinger as the team’s DH. Jeff has performed OK this season, but should be relegated to a utility role with Longoria being the primary DH.

I see no reason to play or own Keppinger or Scott. They will just be getting sporadic playing time. Longoria is going to be in the lineup at DH or 3B before either one of the pair plays.

3B – Ryan Roberts – Since being acquired from the D-Backs right before the trade deadline, Roberts has played all but one game at 3B. He should stay at 3B for the time being. The Rays will not rush Longoria to 3B, so Roberts position at 3B is safe for a few weeks. If an owner counts on him for production at 3B, the league is probably fairly deep. The picking at 3B may be slim, but I would begin to look for replacements for him anyway.