Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Rasmus (Circa 2010)

Getting a high five from Colby Rasmus is a life goal. - USA TODAY Sports

Colby Rasmus hasn't always been everything Jays fans wanted, but he's been a heck of a player in 2013.

When Colby Rasmus came to the Blue Jays almost two years ago he came with a great deal of fanfare and weighty expectations. He was struggling somewhat at the time, but he had produced a .276/.361/.498 slash line the previous year at the age of 23 so Blue Jays fans had reason to be confident he would flourish in Toronto. Unfortunately, Colby Rasmus has not replicated the success of his 2010 season since joining the Jays and has produced a .221/.285/.408 line in his tenure with the team. Rasmus turns 27 this year and has to show the ability to be a solid starter in 2013 if he wants to be the Blue Jays centre fielder for the foreseeable future. Fortunately for him, he is doing just that. Going into last night's game Colby was sitting on a .242/.319/.467 line and a 2.2 fWAR, good for 9th among MLB CF's right between Dexter Fowler and Adam Jones. He has been excellent in the field, but more importantly he has begun to regain his 2010 form with the bat. Although he isn't where he was three years ago, there are some indicators that he's closer than he looks.

The current complaint about Colby usually revolves around his strikeouts, and while a K% of 33% is a tough number to swallow it has been coming down steadily since he put up an insane 41.6% strikeout rate in April. It should also be noted that in 2010 Rasmus had a 27.7% K rate, far higher than the 22.1% and 23.8% rates he would post in his subsequent down years. It would be foolish to say that Rasmus is better the more he strikes out, but he has succeeded in the past while striking out a great deal. In fact, his 2013 ISO of .225 is almost identical to his 2010 ISO of .222 so perhaps Rasmus is more effective when he is striking out more because it is indicative that he is swinging for the fences and demonstrating his impressive power. It's unlikely a coincidence that Rasmus has had his highest K% and highest ISO numbers in the years he has been the most effective offensively.

Other than similar strikeout and power numbers, other linkages between Rasmus's 2010 and 2013 seasons can be made when looking at the batted ball data below:

Year

Ground Ball%

Fly Ball%

GB/FB

Infield Fly%

2010

32%

48.6%

0.66

5.2%

2011

35.8%

47.7%

0.79

15.5%

2012

37.6%

42.2%

0.86

14.4%

2013

31%

49%

0.63

7.9%

There are two main factors in play here. The first is how Rasmus has done a much better job of keeping the ball in the air during his two strong seasons. This season Colby's ground ball and fly ball rates are virtually identical to his 2010 numbers. Additionally, he seemed to have had serious problems with his pop-up rates during the 2011 and 2012 down years. This year he has that problem under control, although he's still far from Joey Votto in that area.

Colby Rasmus has not blossomed into the All-Star player that many Blue Jays fans imagined and in all likelihood he never will. That being said, his 2013 season has been a good one that ought to be appreciated despite his flaws. 242/.319/467 isn't identical to his 2010 line but that line was bolstered by a .354 BABIP that Rasmus is unlikely to repeat. The important thing is that Rasmus is looking good offensively and defensively and doing some of the things that made him successful earlier in his career. If Colby can keep the ball off the ground and stay away from the pop ups he will be productive with the bat, and he's proven to be a solid CF with the glove. Put simply, he's a good player and probably, an underappreciated one. Blue Jays fans marveled at the 2010 version of Rasmus but we are basically seeing that guy minus a little luck on balls in play. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flow.

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