So the Rays finished April with a 14-4 stretch during which they outscored opponents 95-55. Tonight, they are going to add the best offensive player on their roster back to a lineup that churned out 5.28 runs per game.
Sounds like a recipe for an offensive explosion. Right?
Here is what the Rays occupying the 3-hole did in the month without Longoria:
Here is Longoria’s average career month:
And here are Longoria’s career averages in May:
All those numbers look very similar. So, maybe we should just expect the Rays to continue coasting along as they have been.
No. We shouldn’t.
The Rays 3-hole replacements for Longoria have far outperformed the hitters filling in the 4/5/6 slots in the order (who hit a combined .248/.290/.431/.721). So, when Longoria replaces the offense the Rays got from the 3-hole, the players that filled in for him so ably will take their hot start down to the 4/5/6 hole and the players who scuffled during April in the 4/5/6 hole will take themselves to UPS, or to other spots in the lineup, whichever.
Either way, adding a player like Longoria makes everyone in the lineup better because, he allows other hitters to outperform lower expectations rather than simply meet high expectations. Tonight is going to be exciting.