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When I first saw Evan Longoria play it was a defensive move at third base that reminded me a little of Carney Lansford, the old A’s and Red Sox 3rd baseman, and a little of Scott Rolen. He’s not quite that good defensively in my opinion, but he’s far above average, and, at 28, he’s still relatively young — just in the middle of his prime. His bat is much more like Eddie Matthews or Mike Schmidt at the hot corner however. Longoria has prodigious power required of any man that wears number 3 on his back.

Evan became a YouTube sensation after this video went viral a few years ago. For non-baseball fans that’s cool, but it was a commercial for Gillette as proved by Snopes. What makes him a favorite of mine goes deeper than just the numbers, or the glam video. For years Evan has been the most valuable player, when measured by salary, in all of baseball, thanks to his long-term, team friendly contract. His was the long-term contract that changed the way that all teams handle young players now. His dollar signs were far smaller than they are now, but his production per dollar set the new standard.

That has changed recently with his first star contract, but I love his commitment to the Rays, and I love the team’s commitment to him. It’s his team, but he defers to the manager and plays team ball. When the leader of your team falls in line everyone else falls in line and it’s easy to see why that team is successful. Longoria knows he will put up his numbers, but cares about winning first and foremost. Like Justin Morneau, he’s an old school ball player. Unlike Morneau he’s not been derailed by bad injuries, bad luck, or bad management (though in 2012 he did miss half the season with injuries.) He has also lived up to all of the hype and billing — though he has yet to win an MVP award.

Longoria is the prototypical franchise player. With Tampa Bay’s pitching he no longer needs to carry everything, but my guess is that every time a pitcher that faces the Rays gets their report on the Rays’ hitters it starts with Longo.

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