As he stepped onto the field for Wednesday’s matinee against the San Diego Padres, Evan Longoria made history – again. Wednesday would be the 1,236th game played by Longo. The significance? He’s now played in more games than anyone in team history. More than any Devil Ray. More than any Ray.
He was called up early in the 2008 season and well, we all know how that year turned out. That was the year the magic began and it’s no coincidence that it’s the first year Longoria began his legacy with this franchise. Yes, legacy. Longo would not only be on the Mt Rushmore of baseball in this area – he is undoubtedly the standard for anyone after him. A true professional year in and year out. Never one to make a scene or say the wrong thing. Never one to complain about contracts or playing time because well…he’s locked up until he’s 37 years old and playing time has never been and never will be a problem for the unofficial captain of the Rays.
“As Longo goes – so go the Rays.”
That’s the new motto thrown around year after year and for very good reason. More often then not, when Evan Longoria is having success, so is this team. In every playoff year – Longoria has been right in the middle of the success starting with 2008 when he was the AL Rookie of the Year and the Rays made their pennant run. Two years later, the Rays are back in the post-season and Longo leads the team in nearly every major offensive category (Carlos Pena led team in HR w 28) and went on to win his second Gold Glove as well as make his third All Star team. In 2011, Longoria’s slash line slumped a bit but he still managed 31 HR and 99 RBI, both team-leading, and the Rays were once again playoff-bound. Finally, in 2013, the Rays saw another playoff run with Longoria back over the 30-HR mark.
There’s only been one season where Longoria was “injury-prone” since 2008. In 2012, he played in only 74 games as he fought a hamstring injury yet the Rays still managed to win 90 games but just miss the playoffs. How was that possible? Their star player missing more than half the season and yet they still manage to contend? It’s quite simple. In just 74 games, Longo went on to hit 17 home runs and have a very impressive slash line of .289/.369/.527 despite the nagging hamstring.
“As Longo goes – so go the Rays.”
Becoming the all-time leader in games played is just icing on the cake for the third baseman. Longoria has stressed his love for the city, fans, and franchise that gave him a chance to become the player he’s turned into. Not just a cornerstone of a Major League franchise – but arguably it’s most beloved face. He’s a proud papa of two, a happily married man, and when it’s all said and done – he’ll no doubt be the greatest ball player this franchise may ever see.
He’s the all-time leader in home runs, doubles, RBI, SLUG %, and now games played. Not to mention his 46 WAR is the all-time highest for a player’s career in a Rays uniform…a full 10 points ahead of Ben Zobrist.
He’s Evan Michael Longoria.
He’s “Mr. All Time.”
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