Evan Longoria made the All-Star roster his first three years in the majors, from 2008-’10.
Some might argue, "Well, the Tampa Bay Rays had to have one representative," but that’s not a fair assessment. The third baseman has produced and is considered one of the top players at his position.
Longoria, the third overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, was the unanimous American League Rookie of the Year in 2008, earning all 28 first-place votes. The Long Beach State product played 122 games in his debut season, hitting .272 with 27 homers and 85 RBI as the Rays made their first postseason appearance in the franchise’s 11-year history.
Not only did the Rays play into October, they reached the World Series, only to fall to the Philadelphia Phillies in five games. Longoria would hit six homers in the first two rounds of the playoffs, cranking two in Tampa Bay’s 3-1 ALDS win over the Chicago White Sox and four in a 4-3 ALCS triumph over the Boston Red Sox.
Longoria would finish 11th in AL MVP voting at the end of that unforgettable season for the Rays.
In 2009, the Southern California native would win the first of his back-to-back Gold Gloves. He hit .281 with career-bests in homers (33) and RBI (113).
His third season was more of the same: .294, 22 homers, 104 RBI and a personal-best 15 stolen bases.
In 2011, Longoria had one of the most memorable games and hits in Tampa Bay history. On the final day of the season, in a must-win situation to at least make a one-game tiebreaker game, Longoria hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th for an 8-7 victory over the New York Yankees.
He hit an earlier two-run homer in a six-run eighth as the Rays rallied from a 7-0 deficit — Dan Johnson tied it with a solo shot in the ninth. The Rays would go on to lose to the Texas Rangers 3-1 in the ALDS, but 2011 is considered one of the best regular-season final days (Sept. 28) in MLB history, which included Boston losing to Baltimore in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Tampa Bay to win the AL wild-card berth.
But back to Longoria.
Through July 1, in the midst of his sixth major league season, the 27-year-old features a .279 career batting average with 147 homers and 503 RBI.
It won’t be long before Longoria is Tampa Bay’s all-time leader in home runs and RBI. He’s 16 homers shy of Carlos Pena and 89 RBI behind Carl Crawford.
Longoria does rank first on the team’s career leaderboard with a .520 slugging percentage. He’s also second in on-base percentage (.361), third in doubles (182), fourth in runs (432) and total bases (1,385) and fifth in hits (742).
As long as he stays healthy and if he continues to produce as his current rate, the Hall of Fame could be a possibility at the end of a successful career.