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The Season that Was: Colby Rasmus

A look at Colby Rasmus 2013 season.

Colby Rasmus
Colby Rasmus
J. Meric

We picked up Colby Rasmus in July of 2011 and we hoped he would quickly become the same player he was back in 2010 with the Cardinals.

Before the 2012 season I talked to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus about Colby and he wasn't terribly hopeful:

You said that Colby Rasmus still has truck loads of potential. Do you think we'll get to see that potential this year?

Probably not. That's a guy I'm not really high on and is there potential still there? Absolutely, but the further we're removed from it the lesser the chances we have of him reaching it. I think that's important. This is a player who was really good in 2010. I'm talking about a guy who had .276 with 23 home runs and nearly slug .500 and it all went backwards last year and it got even worse when he got to Toronto. We can make a million excuses for him or we can be concerned and I'd rather be in the concerned pile, rather than someone just making excuses about stuff I don't know about.

There's lots of stories, when he came to camp, about how much of a better attitude he had and all that. Do you think that plays anything to it?

No. Is there an attitude aspect to Colby Rasmus' game? Yes. But did you ever read any spring stories about anyone in baseball coming to camp with a worse attitude? Did you read any spring stories about any player on any team coming to camp in the worse shape of his life? It's that kind of thing. Spring training is all about stories about optimism. This guy looks good, this guy's got a new attitude and all that stuff. Players are players. There is of course this sort of non-zero chance that he turns it around and he becomes the guy that we thought he'd be all along when he was coming in the minors and he turns it around and is the guy we saw even 2 years ago in 2010. I just think it's dangerous to act like it's going to happen because he has a new attitude or because he's a Blue Jay and Alex is the GM and Tony's not his manager any more. You get stuck in these very dangerous kind of causal relationship traps.

Would you have still made that trade?

They didn't give much away. So yeah, if you look at that list, if you look at every player in that list, which is a lot of guys, about 7 players total, when you add it all up he certainly is the position player with the most upside and probably has the more upside than any player there. Throw Edwin Jackson in an argument at least. As far as guys with potential that's the guy who has the most potential. He's 25 years old so it's not like he's over the hill or anything. So yeah, I think he'd made the trade again. There seems to be a lot of people who act like he's going to figure it all out, like it's a known commodity when its anything but.

So, as much as we hoped he would become something good, there was no guarantee.

Being honest with ourselves, Colby was pretty much a mess when he came to us. We hoped it was the cross between Tony LaRussa and his dad that made that mess and that

Asking Dwayne Murphy about changes he and Colby made to his swing before the 2012 season. He said they:

Got rid of that big leg kick he had. He had watched Bautista hit, you know, there are several guys that tried to do the big leg kick and you just can't do the big leg kick. The big leg kick was getting him in big trouble. He was getting beat coming out of it. Colby is doing real well now and I'll tell you what, he's a one of the guys we needed to help carry this team.

He's got a great swing. Really there's not much to work with his swing, his swing has been his swing. It's just made this little change, get rid of his leg kick and let him be Colby.

His 2012 season broke nicely into a very good first half (.259/.328/.494) and an awful second half (.176/.238/.278). He was playing through some little aches and pains in the second half. Maybe he shouldn't have.

Our prediction thread had guesses that were all over the map, which was fair. He's never been easy to figure out. One thought we should sign Michael Bourn as a free agent. Thank goodness we didn't do that, he hit a .263/.316/.360 and will be making $41 million over the next three years. My guess was:

He plays 140 games, hits .255/..325/.460 with 23 home runs and 75 RBI.

It didn't turn out to be all that optimistic:

2013 - Colby Rasmus 118 417 57 115 26 1 22 66 37 135 0 1 .276 .338 .501

Too bad, he didn't get the 140 games. It would be nice if this is the Rasmus we see going forward, minus the injuries.

Fangraphs has him at a 4.8 WAR giving him a value of $24.2 million to the Jays. He had a .365 BABIP, up from .297 in 2012.

Colby walked a bit more than last year (8.1% up from 7.5) and, you'll all know this, his strikeout rate was also up (29.5% up from 23.8).

His line drive rate was up (22.0% up from 20.1 in 2012). He hit fewer ground balls (33.0%, down from 37.6) and more fly balls (45.0% up from 42.2). And more of his fly balls left the park (17.3% up from 13.2). More fly balls and more of them leaving the park, that's a good thing.

Not surprisingly, Colby hit RHP (.284/.359/.534) much better than he hit LHP (.256/.288/.424).

He hit much better at home (.288/.350/.563 with 14 home runs) than on the road (.262/.326/.436 with 8 home runs).

With RISP Cobly hit .333/.398/.573. If you believed my Twitter feed, you'd think he never had a hit with anyone on base in his life.

By month Rasmus hit:

April: .238/.297/.440 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI.

May: .263/.330/.463 with 5 home runs and 15 RBI.

June: .224/.313/.459 with 5 home runs and 13 RBI.

July: .371/.413/.588 with 3 home runs and 17 RBI.

August: .231/.286/.359 with 1 home run and 5 RBI.

September: .353/.421/.1.059 with 4 home runs and 6 RBI in 6 games.

His defense in center was terrific, both by the eye test and by UZR, which had him at a 15.2/150, which was much better than his 0.0 last year. He made 4 errors, giving him a .987 FA, right at the league average. On the other hand, his throws from the outfield were particularly awful. He couldn't hit JP with a throw if his life (or more appropriately, the game) depended on it. He had 1 outfield assist on the season. I don't remember his throwing being so bad in the past, and he did have 7 assists last year. I hope he fixes it for next year.

Fangraphs considers Colby a good base runner, putting him 1.2 runs better than the average base runner. He doesn't steal bases, and I'd think he's fast enough to pick up some, but I don't think there is much to be gained by trying to make him steal.

His favorite team to play? Colby hit .400/.500/.900 in 3 games vs. the Twins. He hit .308/.438/.846 in 6 games.

Least favorite? He hit .167/.250/.167 in 5 games against the Mariners.

Colby seems to draw more than his fair share of critics. I'm not really sure why. Even during his great month of July, I had people telling me, on twitter that he never hits with runners in scoring position or hits in the clutch or some other stuff.  I'm not sure why Colby causes such violent reactions. I guess part of it is, first impressions is a tough thing to get past. I'm sure that some of it is kind of a northern opinion of slow talking southerners.

And then there are idiots like this:

Other than it being totally stupid, it shows how people think of people who talk slow talking southerners.

Colby is a favorite of mine. I tend to like guys that get dumped on more than they deserve. I hope this season is the start of a long run of good seasons.