Evan Almighty Picked as AL Rookie of the Year




Evan Longoria did not start at third base for the Tampa Bay Rays’ on Opening Day 2008. He was nestled in a room in Durham, North Carolina thinking about how to better himself and get back to St. Petersburg for the rest of the 2008 season.  But also in the works during this time was a huge contract for their young star that would relieve all stress and anxiety for him for a long time as a Tampa Bay Rays.


Most people were undecided as to if you give such a long term contract to a guy who has not even set foot on a MLB field during the regular season. Rays front office managment saw the deal as a precursor to the rising cost of keeping young talent, but also gave financial stability to the future payroll of their club. No one in either camp was sure what 2008 would hold for Longoria, but the future was set and he could relax and just play baseball until he got his shot in St. Petersburg, Florida. 


He finally arrived after 11 games, and the Ray’s rookie only missed playing time due to a severe wrist injury in 2008. Longoria became the first rookie in Rays history today to take home the  Jackie Robinson American League Rookie of the Year trophy.

Longoria was a unanimous choice by the Baseball Writers Association of America today. Longoria got 28 first place votes to outpace second place finisher, Chicago White Sox second baseman Alexi Ramirez, 140-59. All 28 possible first place ballots went to Longoria.


After coming back up to the Rays on April 12th, Longoria played in the next 104 games — 103 of those starts — hitting mostly fifth and cleanup, until he suffered a fractured right wrist after being hit by a pitch from Mariners closer J.J. Putz on Aug. 10 in Seattle. Longoria did not return to the lineup until Sept. 13.



Despite missing 30 games due to the fractured wrist, Longoria led all Major League rookies with 27 home runs and a .531 slugging percentage. In addition, he led AL rookies with 85 RBIs, 60 extra-base hits and 238 total bases.


Among the highlights from Longoria’s season were two game-winning home runs, the first coming May 9, when he hit a walk-off, two-run shot off Justin Speier to win it 2-0 against the Angels and make a winner of James Shields, who threw a one-hitter. The other came at Oakland, where he hit a two-run homer off  ex-Ray Chad Gaudin in the 13th inning to make it 7-5, Rays; Tampa Bay held on for a 7-6 win.



On Sept. 18, Longoria hit 3 home runs in one game against the Twins, making him the second player in Rays history to accomplish the feat (Jonny Gomes hit three on July 30, 2005 against the Royals ). By doing so, Longoria became the first rookie third baseman to hit three in one game since Eddie Mathews in 1952.




Longoria played excellent defense throughout the season and finished the season with a .963 fielding percentage, which ranked him sixth among AL third basemen. And he played his first professional game at shortstop on June 29 against the Cubs. It was alos against the Cubs that Longoria began making a name for himself in the AL.



With the game close, the Cub’s Reed Johnson put down a slow rolling bunt down the thrid baseline and Longoria sprinted in and threw off-balance to first to nail Johnson within a half a step for a critical out in the game against the Cubs. But that play was only one of many that made alot of people in baseball begin to sit up and take notice of this rookie.



Congratulations to Lou Piniella and Joe Maddon for successful 2009 seasons and being named Manager of the Year in their respective leagues.

The Chicago Cubs won 97 games this year, plus-12 from the 2007 season. They also had a lot of injuries and no fine identity throughout the year. What was impressive is the string of wins the compiled, 18 times the Cubs won 3 or more games in a row. I think Lou did a great job this past season.

Joe Maddon took a team with new faces in starting roles and played solid team baseball. The Rays were 3rd in MLB in fielding percentage, third in team ERA, 13th in runs and ninth in OBP. From worst to first; a total team effort. Is it the system Maddon has in place or is it a fluke alike the 2007 Indians. It doesn’t matter, they made it to the World Series and have a young team that will make waves in the Bay area next year. Great job by Maddon and the Tampa Rays.


It was a wild year, and both men definitely deserved their awards for the great seasons each teams had, even if they did not get to the Final prize.
A lot of things went right for the Rays in 2008, and hopefully they can construct a foundation for many more in the future.

Rays Renegade


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