I made it out to the yard Sunday to see the re-animated Rays finish one of their best weeks since April. Watching them flail away at the plate made me realize something: Longo’s return might not be the panacea we are all hoping for.
The mantra is set. If the Rays can just tread water while they heal, they’ll have a shot to make a last minute push for the postseason. The treading has occurred. But, are we certain the push is going to follow?
At this point, every key offensive piece is healthy save Longoria (and now, gulp, Zobrist?). So, we have to ask, is the lineup that mustered two whole hits against Miguel Gonzalez (to paraphrase Harry Doyle “…[two] hits. [Two] hits? We only had [two] damn hits?”) going to look fundamentally different with Longoria in the middle of it? Probably not.
Sure, maybe Longo helps us scratch out one run yesterday but, this isn’t the NBA. He isn’t going to hit more than a few times a game so, his return will have a limited impact.
Baseball Reference says that Longo has been worth 276 more runs than a replacement over the course of his entire career. That roughs out to just 0.53 runs per game (I know, the math here is brutal and inexact, but you get the point). The 2012 Rays are only outscoring their opponents by 0.18 runs per game. So, assuming Longo performs to his career averages (a difficult assumption given the length of his rehab and the severity of his injury and the likelihood that he will not play third-base) the Rays with Longo should outscore their opponents by just 0.71 runs per game.
Wait. That is really good. The Yankees have a 0.9 run differential per game and the Rangers have a 0.8 per-game differential. It’s way better than the per-game differential for Oakland and Anaheim.
Does that mean my math is wrong? Do you just add the Longo RAR per game to the Rays’ run differential? Somebody help me out here. I had this entire premise turned on its head by facts. Well, by what appear to be facts.
I feel like Donny. I’m out of my element. I am the walrus. I am the walrus, Dude.