The Tampa Bay Rays may be outside favorites to return to the World Series this year, but the names that decorate their roster aren’t likely to sneak up on anyone in a fantasy baseball draft.
Of all the players on the Rays who will play significant roles in the success of fantasy baseball owners this season, there may not be a player more significant that third baseman Evan Longoria.
Longoria arrived in the big leagues at the same time that Fantasy Baseball Dugout was cutting its teeth, so we have a special appreciation for the Rays’ hot corner. In 2008, Longoria was the top prospect to make the Big League jump and have a fantasy impact. Last season, he established himself as the top young third baseman in the Majors with a .281 average, 33 home runs, 113 RBI, 100 runs, and 9 steals.
This season has already gotten off to a great start for Longoria, as he was named the cover athlete for MLB 2K10 and played a pivotal role in a little giveaway we hosted here on the site.
So what the heck can fantasy owners expect from Longoria in 2010? Not the top statistical third baseman – projections from CBS Sports and FanGraphs lead towards Longo having over 30 home runs, over 100 runs, and over 100 RBI. He’s not going to be the top statistical third baseman in 2010, and he’s not being drafted as such. However, Mock Draft Central shows he is being taken as a late first-rounder in most mixed draft formats. According to MDC, he’s been taken as early as no. 5 overall… and as late as no. 15.
Statistically, Longo is comparable to Matt Kemp without the speed. At 15 overall, Longoria seems to be an absolute steal in a fantasy baseball draft. At no. 5, Longoria may be a bit of a reach. He’s good for a few steals, which should allow him to be drafted ahead of guys with comparable homer, run and RBI production like Prince Fielder or Miguel Cabrera.
Quickly drafting a fantasy baseball mock, I would say Longoria can safely be drafted as high as no. 7 in mixed leagues. Take him with confidence in the first round – just not ahead of A-Rod or any other fantasy baseball superstar.