Last season's American League Rookie of the Year likely would have reached the plateau during his rookie season had he not missed 30 games with a fractured right wrist. Now he is off to a hot start, entering Thursday's action with a .415 batting average, five home runs and 16 RBIs.
Rays manager Joe Maddon believes Longoria has the kind of RBI mentality that leads to 100-RBI seasons on a constant basis.
"A real RBI mentality to me is a guy who is going to do what [Longoria has] done the last couple of times, and that's drive the ball to right-center," Maddon said. "If they're not going to give you the pitch to power the ball to right field, and you don't make the adjustment, it's very difficult to have that kind of mentality to drive in that one-run-at-a-time thing.
"What he's been doing more recently has been fabulous. I've taken as much or more pleasure from watching his line drives to right-center than any bomb he's hit since I've known him. He's going to do that, because he's good and he can do that. Unless he shows pitchers he's going to do that, he's not gong to see the kind of pitches on a consistent basis that he could drive to the [left-field] side. Furthermore, he can hit it out to the right-field side, too. Yeah, he has the RBI mentality. It's within him."
Longoria can often be seen in the company of veteran slugger Pat Burrell, much like he kept company with veterans Cliff Floyd and Eric Hinske during his rookie season. And for good reason.
"I think Pat [being] there to nurture him along [helps]," Maddon said. "I know last year Hinske and Cliff, all these guys, have helped contribute to his development."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.