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He’s up for the final roster slot, but does Evan Longoria fit in with AL All-Stars?

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He could pose in the team picture without blushing.

Evan Longoria would fit in just fine, of course. He has a .278 average and 18 homers and 45 RBI. He has made three other all-star games. People would look at the other stars, and then at him, and no one would blink.

But does Longoria deserve to be an all-star.

He is not one yet. The Rays’ third baseman is one of five players trying to win the final spot in the team voting against Boston’s Justin Pedroia, Detroit’s Ian Kinsler, Houston’s George Springer and Toronto’s Michael Saunders. You can build a case for all of them, including Longoria.

But in these ballot-box stuffing days, in these days of playing for a last-place team, does Longoria deserve it?

Springer has one more home run than Longo. Pedrioia, Kinsler and Saunders have higher averages. Kinsler and Springer have more RBI. Longo plays a more challenging position defensively.

So where does Longo rank?

He probably isn’t a favorite, just because the sheer number of fans are likely to lean toward Pedroia or Kinsler. He probably isn’t an underdog, with a bigger name that Springer or Saunders. Probably, Longoria is in that neighborhood where he could go, but it isn’t a slam dunk.

“I’m always excited to be considered in that group,” Longoria said. “First and foremost, I’m very happy for Colome. I think he’s deserving of it. He’s one of the only guys down there that’s been consistent for us and been great, and we’ve asked a lot out of him. And I’m honored to be on the final ballot thing. We talked about it earlier, I was on it in 2008, and we came through and won. So hopefully we can rally the troops and get some votes and get me there again.”

If you have to put odds on them, do it this way: 1. Pedroia; 2. Kinsler; 3. Longoria; 4. Springer; 5. Saunders.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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