ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Evan Longoria says he has had more consistent years, but his influence has been valuable to the Tampa Bay Rays’ postseason push.
The Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America named the third baseman the Rays’ most valuable player Friday in a presentation of its annual awards. Outfielder Wil Myers was voted the team’s outstanding rookie and infielder Ben Zobrist was given the Paul C. Smith Champion Award, presented to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.
“It was a huge honor,” Longoria said. “It’s kind of ironic for me that of all the years … I feel like this has been my most inconsistent year. I feel like this year has been a little personally disappointing for myself. I guess it speaks to the fact that I’ve been healthy, I’ve been able to be on the field everyday.”
Longoria, 27, entered Friday hitting .264 with a team-high 29 home runs and 77 RBI. Those numbers are comparable to the last season in which he played at least 100 games, during 2011, when he batted .244 with 31 home runs and 99 RBI in 133 contests.
“Leadership is normally taken,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s not given to anybody. And I think a lot of it is innate. … At the end of the day, I think most of it is an innate kind of situation that normally occurs over a period of time, and then you take this moment and seize it.
“There’s a lot of feel, I think, involved in that. Guys like Longo and David Price, I think, will continue to get better at this.”
Meanwhile, Myers’ recognition as the Rays’ top rookie comes as little surprise. Before Friday, the 22-year-old had hit .300 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 77 games after his promotion from Triple-A Durham in June.
Zobrist, for his part, valued his recognition.
“It’s a huge honor to be considered for an award like that,” he said. “It’s something you’re thankful for. Obviously, there are plenty of days where you don’t feel like talking, you don’t feel like saying much. But I think our team, our baseball writers, we’ve always had a great relationship. It has made it much easier even in those moments when you don’t want to talk.”
Here are the complete results. Voting was done on a 5-3-1 points basis.
Most Valuable Player 1. Evan Longoria 33 (six first-place votes) 2. Yunel Escobar 17 (one) 3. Ben Zobrist 13 (one) *Also receiving votes: Matt Moore 8; James Loney 1
Outstanding Rookie 1. Wil Myers 40 2. Chris Archer 24 3. Alex Torres 8
Paul C. Smith Champion Award 1. Ben Zobrist 26 2. David Price 23 3. Sam Fuld 10 Also receiving votes: Alex Cobb 8; James Loney, Joel Peralta 2; Matt Joyce 1