Chris Colabello turns 39 today.
The Blue Jays picked up Chris off waivers from the Twins before the 2015 season. In two seasons with the Twins, he hit .214/.284/.364, with 13 home runs in 114 games. So we can be excused for not being excited about a 31-year-old who could play first or DH but couldn’t hit well enough to make anyone want to give him time at either spot.
Chris had an excellent spring training. And Michael Saunders wrecked his knee on a sprinkler head in Dunedin’s training fields, and we suddenly needed someone for the outfield. Also, Dalton Pompey didn’t have a great start to the season, and the Jays weren’t known for their patience, so, at the beginning of May, Colabello got the job.
Chris played the outfield with a style and grace not seen since the early Jays tried Otto Velez out there (for those who don’t remember Velez, which is about everyone, imagine a statue), but he figured out how to hit. By the end of his first month, he was hitting .368/.417/.568.
They decided that Chris’ bat couldn’t carry his glove in the outfield by the end of June. So they started playing him at first and DH. Justin Smoak, who also came to the 2015 season team, wasn’t having as good a season. But Smoak had potential. When he hit a home run, it wasn’t a wall scraper.
Unfortunately, our GameThreads became a continuing argument about who should be playing first. It was the first time I actively avoided our GameThreads. Chris had an outstanding season, finishing with a .321/.367/.520 line, with 15 home runs in 101 games. His defense hurt his WAR. He finished with a 0.7 bWAR.
He had an excellent ALDS, hitting .375/.412/.688. Unfortunately, his ALCS didn’t go as well, .217/.250/.391.
We wondered if he could do it again. He had a .411 BABIP, which many of us thought was unsustainable, but if he could walk a bit more, and strike out a bit less, he could still put up good numbers.
We didn’t find out. Chris started the 2016 season slowly, hitting .069/.156/.225.
And then the news came out that he tested positive for PEDs. MLB started using an improved test, and they caught several players. He got an 80-game suspension. Chris said he didn’t know how the substance got into his system. He did an emotional interview for Sportsnet. I tend not to believe guys that claim they don’t know how it happened, but who knows, maybe this time it was true.
He played in the minors for Cleveland and Milwaukee in 2017, hitting .254/.350/.395. In 2019 In 2018, he played in Italy and 2019 in the independent leagues but hasn’t made it back to the majors. I like guys who enjoy baseball so much that they will play in independent leagues.
Chris seemed likable and fun to watch (a little less fun to watch in the outfield). I hope things are going well for him.
Happy Birthday Chris. Have a good one.