Saturday, May 2, 2009

Longo for MVP? Too early to call ... now

There was a moment during Friday's Boston-Tampa Bay game when Dustin Pedroia and Evan Longoria ended up on third base together.

Longoria was defending the base, as he does quite well for the Rays. Pedrioa was there only because he couldn't score from first on a double by Kevin Youkilis.

So there they were, the last two American League rookies of the year. Pedroia, the Red Sox second baseman, followed his with an MVP award.

Those who follow the Rays wonder if Longoria can do the same.

Way too early for MVP talk. But, if there was an MVP of the first month of the season, you couldn't go wrong with Longoria, who had a better start to his sophomore year than Pedroia did.

Longoria is among the league-leaders in every offensive category. He leads the American League in RBIs and leads the major leagues in doubles, extra base hits and total bases.

And he fields his position better than most third baseman's in baseball.

Again, waaaaay too early to talk MVP.

The Rays would have to stay in the postseason hunt the entire season and Longoria would have to be a big reason for the playoff drive.

Those who watch Longoria play every day don't think this will be a problem.

In fact, those who watch the Rays play every day are excited every time Longoria comes to bat and any time the ball is hit his way.

You watch closely because you are certain Longoria is going to do something you've never seen before.

"He’s got that 'it' factor," Rays left fielder Carl Crawford said after Longoria helped win Friday's game with a grand slam. "He lives for those moments. Some guys have it and some guys don’t. He’s one of those guys who has it. He seems to thrive on those type of moments."

That's what you do if you are an MVP-caliber player.

Rays manager Joe Maddon had this to say about Longoria: "We believe Longo is, and I'm going to say something stupid, pretty good, and he's only going to get better."

How much better? MVP better?

We'll see.

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