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The Season that Was: Brett Lawrie

A look at Brett Lawrie's 2014 season.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you've heard this one: Brett Lawrie came into 2014 off a season where he missed far too much of the season with various injuries. We hoped this would be the season that he would a) stay healthy and b) live up to his potential with the bat.

Going into 2013 I said:

Brett has some maturing to do (don't we all), and he runs the bases like he doesn't understand that the other team can tag him out. Maybe John Gibbons will be a good influence. Maybe Chad Mottola will be good for him.

We could have said the same thing going into 2014, switching out Kevin Seitzer for Chad Mottola. Well, maybe we could take about the maturing bit, he seems to have matured some over the past couple of seasons. He still has moments but then we all do.

Well, 2014 didn't go any better than 2013:

Year   Age  G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG
2014    24 70 259 27 64  9  0 12  38  0  0 16 49 .247 .301 .421

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Fangraphs has him at a 1.7 WAR (as did Baseball Reference), giving him a value of $9.2 million.

He had a .320 wOBA and a 101 wRC+.

Compared to 2013, Brett walked less (5.7%, down from 6.8), and struck out more (17.4%, up from 15.4). His line drive rate was down (13.7%, down from 17.4), ground balls were down 46.9%, down from 48.5) and fly balls were up (39.3%, up from 34.1). The good news was that more of his fly balls left the park (14.5%, up from 9.6).

He had a .260 BABIP, down from .280 last year and his career .292. He needs to make good contact more often.

Lawrie hit RHP pretty good (.263/.321/.439) but didn't hit lefties at all (.197/.234/.361). He had the same sort of reverse split last season.

He hit much better at home (.285/.321/.496) than on the road (213/.285/.353). Makes you wonder how he hit on the road, against lefties.

He was very good with RISP (.323/.370/.615).

I'd list his first half and second half splits, but he only had 1 at bat on the second half.

Brett Lawrie by month:

April: .192/.244/.384 with 6 home runs and 20 RBI in 26 games.

May: .287/.333/.436 with 2 home runs and 11 RBI in 24 games.

June: .262/.333/.446 with 4 home runs and 7 RBI in 19 games.

August: 1 at bat, 1 single.

On defense, Brett played 403 innings at third base, and had a 14.9 UZR/150. He made just 2 errors. At second base, he played 193 innings and had a -1.0 UZR/150. He made 2 errors at second as well.

I know the team is considering finding a third baseman and moving Brett to second. I'd much prefer him staying at third, though I'm sure that if he played more second, he'd get better at it. I just think he is better suited to third.

Fangraphs has him at 0.8 runs above average as a base runner.

His longest hitting streak was 7 games, running from May 30 to June 6.

Favorite team to hit? He went 4 for 9 with a home run in 3 games vs. the Reds. Least favorite? He went 2 for 13, with a double, no walks and 6 strikeouts in 3 games vs. the Rangers.

I do feel bad for the guy, every time he gets on a decent roll with the bat, he gets hurt. He does have a bunch of moving parts to his swing, it takes him longer than most to get his timing down. Getting hit in the hand with a pitch seems like bad luck, though it happened twice in the space of a week, the second time breaking a bone. The oblique thing? That has happened two years in a row now. As anyone that follows him on Twitter knows, he works out like crazy. I don't know if there is something he can do to lessen the chance of oblique troubles, if there is an exercise he should add to his workout or something he should stop doing. Alex said something about the team studying the issue. I hope they come up with a plan.

The team defense is so much better with him out on the field. He helps mask Reyes' lack of range. Of course, when you are comparing him to Juan Francisco and Danny Valencia....he's going to look very good. Perhaps the most important thing the Jays can do next year is figure out how to keep him healthy.

I think it is unfair to rag on a guy for getting hurt.  Brett would rather not be injured. I do get the feeling that he's the type of player that, back in the days before the 7 and 8 man bullpens, back when you could have a decent bench, Lawrie would be the type of player you would give more than the average number of days off. Not that it has anything to do with the injuries he has had, but he does seem like the 'football player' type, who is trying to be a baseball player. He's, likely, too intense for his own good. Likely could use at least the mental break from the game more often than you average guy. But if you have 8 guys in the pen and 3 catchers, you aren't built to give guys days off.

I do kind of think that 2015 is a make or break year for Lawrie and the Blue Jays. If he plays less than 130 games again, it will be time to start looking for a replacement. He is still just 24 (25 in January) and he still could have a very good career (he is just 7 months older than Anthony Gose and a full year younger than Kevin Pillar), but if he's going to be a big part of our future, it's time to show it. He's played in 62% of the Jays games since he became a regular out of spring training in 2012. We need him to play more.

All that said, when he is playing, he is one of my favorites to watch. He plays full out and that's easy to enjoy. I'd just like him to enjoy him more often.