Colby Rasmus Should Be Fine

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Colby Rasmus is off to an ugly start in 2014, but it's almost a mirror image of last year's April.

To say Colby Rasmus has not been an impact player so far for the Blue Jays in 2014 would be an overly kind euphemism for saying that he's been awful.

The 27-year-old centre fielder has put together a .188/.242/.388 line going into tonight's action, which has resulted in a -0.1 WAR from the guy who led the team in WAR last season with 4.8.

Given that the season is just starting, there are plenty of rational reasons to be optimistic about a Rasmus rebound, but the problem is that when Colby is off he looks completely and utterly lost at the plate. Fans can't help but wonder if he'll get so far off-track that he'll never make his way back to being an offensive threat. After all, in both of his best seasons he relied on BABIP numbers above .350 and an approach at the plate that results in almost three times as many strikeouts as walks always raises red flags.

However, before we get too far down the rabbit hole worrying about Rasmus, we need only to think back to this time last year. On April 22nd 2013 Jeff Sullivan wrote this excellent piece on the Jays centre fielder about his crazy low contact rate and how his production was liable to dip.

What happened instead was that Rasmus started making contact with more pitches as the season went on and kept producing at an elite level. Now, it's impossible to say with 100% certainty that Rasmus will right the ship because he's done it before, but it is interesting how similar his Aprils in 2013 and 2014 are.

Year

PA

BB%

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

BABIP

wRC+

2013

91

6.6 %

41.8 %

.238

.297

.440

.202

.381

101

2014

91

5.5 %

33.0 %

.188

.242

.388

.200

.235

70

It is unfair to always attribute BABIP fluctuations to pure luck, but it's interesting that BABIP is really the only thing that made Rasmus's production better last April. Looking at his counting stats he has the same number of home runs (4) and doubles (5) in 2014 as 2013. He is merely four singles short of matching last year's numbers.

That situation reminds me a lot of Bull Durham's wisdom about the difference between hitting .250 and .300. Colby is just missing that one single a week. Examining Rasmus's plate discipline numbers, numbers that stabilize faster and tend to be more meaningful this time of year, the argument could definitely be made that he was actually in a worse place last April.

Year

O-Swing %

O-Contact %

Z-Contact%

Contact %

Swinging Strike%

2013

33.5%

44.0 %

69.6 %

58.1 %

18.2%

2014

32.7%

44.3 %

80.2 %

65.9 %

16.4%

Once again the numbers are very similar. However, he was chasing and whiffing a bit more this time last year.

It is important to reiterate that just because Rasmus recovered from a very similar funk last year that is no guarantee he will do it again. That being said, it is comforting to known we are not in uncharted waters with Colby.

This Blue Jays team hasn't quite put it together yet in 2014, and one of the reasons is starting in centre field. However, if this year is anything like the last, Colby Rasmus should be just fine.

He's got a lot of money riding on it.

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