Evan Longoria- Worth a Second Round Pick?

There are quite a few players within our fantasy baseball game whose name brand value affects their cost on draft day. Seasoned vets with elite fantasy seasons on their past resumes usually cost more than their less heralded counterparts. One key to fantasy baseball success is to ensure that you invest premium picks on players who are primed to produce elite numbers today. You should strive to avoid paying for players whose name value is worth more than their actual production.

Evan Longoria is one of these players. He is an excellent real life player and has had much to do with the Rays success in the brutal AL East. The trouble is that he will likely cost a top 24 pick in next season’s draft. Is he worth that much to your fantasy team?

Here are blind fantasy lines for 4 players from 2013:

Player A: .301, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 89 R, 5 SB, Y! rank: 31
Player B: .269, 32 HR, 88 RBI, 91 R, 1 SB, Y! rank: 52
Player C: .275, 26 HR, 79 RBI, 84 R, 6 SB, Y! rank: 60
Player D: .260, 22 HR, 69 RBI, 79 R, 9 SB, Y! rank: 107

If you guessed that player B is Longoria, you are correct. Player C is Ryan Zimmerman, who was usually drafted an average of over 20 picks later than Longoria last season. Players A and D were Josh Donaldson and Kyle Seager respectively. Both these guys were well outside of the top 12 3Bs during draft season. Donaldson was entirely off the mixed league radar. For the record, I would draft Longoria before any of these other guys next season, but is it worth the substantial price difference that you would have to pay? I am not so sure.

What is Driving the Price Tag for Longoria?

Longoria hit the ground running during his rookie season crushing 27 HRs and driving in 88 over 122 games. In 2009 and 2010, his production was worthy of first round draft status as he was able to increase his BA both seasons and provide healthy SB totals to go along with the other goodies. When drafting Longoria today, you are essentially paying a tax because some owners believe he will return to the elite form he displayed in 2009 and 2010.

In 2011, things changed for Evan Almighty. He sustained an oblique injury during the first week of play and really struggled to regain his form after returning from the DL. While the power numbers were still there (31 bombs), Longoria virtually stopped running. After swiping a career high 15 bags in 2010, he only stole 3 in 2011. In fact, since the start of 2011, Longoria has totaled 6 SBs in 3 seasons. Longoria was also a victim of extremely poor batted ball luck in 2011 as he saw his average plummet to .244, despite a career low K rate.

Injury struck again in 2012. Longo’s production was elite when he was in the line-up, but he only appeared in 74 games. Despite a substantial increase in his K rate from the prior season, Longo saw his average climb all the way back to .289. The 17 long balls he smashed in those limited ABs made him a high risk, high reward player to target early in round 2 during most 2013 drafts.

What Led to Longoria’s Disappointing 2013?

It is easy to look at 2012 and blame injury. Likewise, injuries and extremely poor batted ball luck hurt him in 2011. What about 2013?

Longoria appeared in 160 games this past season and put up solid numbers. He is ranked at 52 overall in the Y! 5×5 player rater and had the 6th best season among 3B eligible players. Owners could have done much worse with their second round picks, but they didn’t get a great value either. 3B is not the type of talent scarce position where owners can be happy with that level of production from a top 20 selection. For perspective, there were 12 3B eligible players who finished inside the top 100 overall in 5×5 value.

Recent data suggests that Longoria is not as feared by pitchers as he once was. His 2013 OBP equaled a career low set during his rookie season. Along with that, his BB rate was slightly lower and his K rate was up substantially from prior seasons. After watching his K rate fall 3 straight years through 2011, he was back to 23.4% this season, which is approximately the same as his rookie season.

Equally alarming is that his 2013 BABIP was actually higher than his career average mark despite a relatively low line drive rate and a relatively high fly ball rate. The combination of all of these numbers might suggest that Longoria was somewhat lucky to bat .269 this year.

Longoria vs. Zimmerman

If we subtract out his rookie season and look at an average year for Evan Longoria, the results might surprise you. Keep in mind, during that time, he had 2 out of 5 seasons where he produced at an elite level. We will count his 2 injury plagued seasons since injuries have a huge impact on fantasy production. Here is his “average” year:

.275, 27 HR, 91.8 RBI, 80.8 R, and 6 SB

In contrast, look at Ryan Zimmerman’s average year through 8 seasons. Zimmerman has had similar injury issues and is significantly more affordable on draft day.

.286, 22.4 HR, 83.25 RBI, 82.25 R, and 4.5 SB

When you consider that Zimmerman is actually trending up in the SB category while Longoria’s running game is becoming more non-existent, I have a hard time seeing the difference between these two players. Sure, you will get a couple more HRs for Longoria, but is this worth a 2 round price tag difference?

Conclusions

When you factor in the K rate that seems to be heading in the wrong direction and the injury history, Evan Longoria is a player that is more likely to bust than hit in the second round. If you play amongst savvy owners and he falls outside the top 30 during your draft (unlikely), the value starts to look a lot better. Bottom line though, Longoria looks like a player who needs to be drafted in the low thirties rather than the mid-teens in re-draft formats. I will happily spend my second round pick on a second tier 1B or OF option and let others chase the myth of the scarce 3B position. Pay for the numbers, not the name.

Tommy Landseadel

Written by 

Tommy is also known as tlance on the CBS and Sports Hoopla message boards. He has been playing fantasy baseball for 16 years in many different format types and looks forward to helping you with your fantasy baseball questions! You can now follow me on Twitter @tlandseadel

3 thoughts on “Evan Longoria- Worth a Second Round Pick?”

  1. Part of it is the name and Longoria has a good one that many associate with a second round pick. The other part of is the position.
    People feel more confident about their team when they lock up a key position early. Donaldson or Seager could have been just as affective, but then you’d be going through the next rounds with that hole at third weighing on you until you (hopefully) got your man.

    From a numbers stand point you make a great argument, but from a draft stand point if you can get a stud first baseman with that first pick and then lock up third with your second, it gives you that piece of mind that can help you during the remainder of your draft. I think reassurance can outweigh the numbers sometimes depending on the owner.

  2. I agree with what you are saying, but 3B isn’t as scarce as people think.

    Five 3B eligible bats finished 2013 in the top 40 overall for 5×5 value. Twelve finished inside the top 100 and 15 were inside the top 160 overall.

    Here are a few more players who finished outside the top 200 in 2013, but have top 100 potential for next season:

    Jedd Gyorko
    Aramis Ramirez
    Chase Headley
    Pablo Sandoval
    Brett Lawrie
    Nolan Arenado
    Will Middlebrooks

    There are some positions where the quality drops off quickly after the first few picks. 3B isn’t as strong as first, but it isn’t weak either. I will take an elite option if the price is right, but I am not going to overpay either. There are great values to be had later.

    In my opinion, the most important trait in a good fantasy drafter is flexibility. You take the values as they come. If you miss on a player you were targeting or you are unable to fill a key position early, then so be it. Always have back-up options in mind and try not to overpay too much to lock up a specific player or position.

  3. I hear what you’re saying but of the players you mentioned, how many of them can you guarantee will be in the top 100.
    Of the 5 that finished inside the top 40 Encarnacion will not qualify next year. Carpenter will but you’d be silly to not use him as second. And Donaldson represents that small group of players that are drafted later and come out of nowhere to have a terrific season. The only two in that top 5 that deserve to be there are Cabrera (who is gone before you get a chance at him) and Beltre.

    Beltre, Wright and Longoria are the only players that are locked into the top 5 and short of an injury you know what they should deliver. You could get someone later that might give you numbers close to Longoria, but the key word is might.

    I agree Longoria is overrated for his draft position, but he comes with a guarantee that the lower players don’t. His guarantee states he will give you x numbers come the end of the year (short of an injuyr), and that is what many people pay for.
    They pay for the guaranteed numbers and the position. Conventional wisdom does not work when it comes to everyone, the only thing they believe in is peace of mind. I know, I’ve been there.

Comments are closed.