With Reports By MLB.com
The only guy to win by a wider margin than Obama is Longoria.
Dirtbag and Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria capped a remarkable season by capturing all 28 first-place votes for the Jackie Robinson AL Rookie of the Year Award. On the year, Longoria hit .272 with 27 home runs and 85 RBIs in 122 games.
“This is where, as a baseball player, I wanted to be,” Longoria said via conference call from his California home. “If I told you two years ago I knew I’d be in this situation, I’d be lying. This is a dream come true and what you always dream of as a kid.”
The Rays’ 31-game improvement from last season had a lot to do with the glove and bat of Longoria. The third-overall pick by the Rays in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft began the season at Triple-A Durham, but was promoted to the big club on April 12, where he started 103 of the next 104 games while hitting mostly cleanup and fifth.
On August 10, the 23-year-old fractured his right wrist after being hit by a pitch from Mariners closer J.J. Putz. Longoria went on to miss the next 30 games. But when the playoffs came around, so did the third baseman’s power, and he went on to set the rookie record for home runs in the playoffs.
Longoria led all Major League rookies in home runs and slugging percentage (.531). He was also tops among AL rookies in RBIs, extra-base hits (60) and total bases (238). He ranked sixth among AL third basemen with a .963 fielding percentage.
For you ten Rays fans, don’t worry, you’re not going to be the next version of the Florida Marlins.
Longoria signed a six-year, $17.5 million contract earlier in the 2008 season. With a year like this one and a contract like that, Longoria will undoubtedly be one of the faces of the young Tampa Bay franchise.
“We all know that baseball is a team sport, but every franchise has to have somebody,” Longoria said. “You look at every team, and there’s one player that sticks out. Whether it’s me or B.J. Upton or Scott Kazmir, it doesn’t matter. If it happens to be me, I’ll do the best I can to represent the club and the city.”
Of course, with great play, come great expectations.
“That’s something I enjoy,” he said. “I feel like I can, obviously, do a lot more. I had a great year — bar none. I wouldn’t go into next year expecting myself to hit double the home runs and double the RBIs. That would be a silly thought. I think if I were able to replicate this year every year, it’d be a productive year… I know I have the ability to do more, and all I can really do is prepare myself to the best of my abilities and then go out on the field and see what happens.”
As for the World Series slump, “I knew when the [Series] was over, I didn’t play very well — everybody who watched the World Series knew that,” Longoria said. “But, having the year that I had and just being able to play in that situation and that Series, I knew — win or lose — I was just going to the stadium every day to have fun. I was still pretty content with the fact that we had such a great year and really nothing to be disappointed about.”
Longoria, who was the only player listed on all the ballots, became the seventh AL rookie to win the award by a unanimous vote and the first since fellow St. John Bosco alumni Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.