If you have been hanging around these parts for a while, you know that the model for this site is to tell you what the Rays have done, what they are doing and try to project what they will do based on what we have learned. Unlike most team blogs, we do not very often tell you what the Tampa Bay Rays should do. We prefer to live under the premise that the people that run the Rays are smarter than we are, and know many, many more things that even the most learned fan will never know.
However, for the next 12 days we will step away from the standard, and we present to you 12 “presents” the Tampa Bay Rays should give to their fans. Looking back at last year’s 12 Days of Raysmas, we see that the Rays didn’t come through on very many of our wishes, and the result was a somewhat disappointing season. Let’s hope that changes in 2010.
On the first day of Raysmas, the Tampa Bay Rays gave to us, ONE American League Most Valuable Player…
In 2009, Ben Zobrist finished 8th in the AL MVP voting. It was the highest finish ever for a Tampa Bay Ray. Unfortunately for Zorilla, that is likely to be the highest he will ever finish in the voting. Part of his allure this past year was that he came out of nowhere and did not have a regular position. Neither of those will be true in the future.
No, the player that will win the first-ever MVP award for the Rays will be Evan Longoria. After one month in the majors, we made the bold prediction during a radio interview that Dirtbag would win multiple MVP awards before his career is over. 2010 would be a good time to get that first trophy. But if that is to happen, several factors will need to fall into place.
- Longoria will need to step up his already impressive offensive display. In his first two seasons, Longo hit .272-27-85 and .281-33-113. While batting average and RBI are way down on the list of important offensive stats, they are still highly regarded by fans and the media that vote for MVP. Longoria will probably need to hit .300 and his RBI total probably needs to be 120+.
- He cannot show a regression with his glove. Carlos Pena won the gold glove in 2008 and then took a step backwards defensively in 2009. Longoria needs to avoid that sort of let down and continue to demonstrate that he is one of the best all-around players in baseball.
- He needs to stay healthy. After missing nearly a month in his rookie season, Longoria played in 157 games last year. Unlike players such as Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols, Longo does not have the numbers that can withstand an extended stay on the DL and still look great. If he wants to contend for the MVP, he needs to play 145+ games.
- And most importantly, the Rays need to be a contender. The days of players like Andre Dawson winning the MVP on a non-contender are over. And Longoria does not have the bat that can lap the other candidates even if the Rays are 10 games out of the playoffs. Quite simply, the Rays need to be playing meaningful games in final 2 weeks of the regular season if Dirtbag is to have any shot.
Evan Longoria has the bat, the glove, the name recognition and the supporting cast to win the 2010 AL MVP. And on the first day of Raysmas, that is what we want.