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Next stop, stardom: 2011 breakout picks – Colby Rasmus

Mar 25, 2011, 5:17 PM EDT

colby-rasmus-cardinals Reuters

Colby Rasmus received more attention for his tense relationship with manager Tony La Russa becoming public than for his outstanding sophomore season, as he managed to lead all MLB center fielders in OPS as a 23-year-old without much fanfare.

La Russa benching him versus many left-handers (and then simply benching him for a while, period) kept Rasmus’ counting stats somewhat modest, but when given the chance to face southpaws he hit .270 with an .810 OPS off them and his overall production was spectacular for his age and position.

Rasmus joined Ken Griffey Jr., Fred Lynn, Grady Sizemore, Andruw Jones, Dusty Baker, and Lloyd Moseby as the only center fielders in the past 50 years to top an .850 OPS as 23-year-olds. That’s some pretty great company and the improvements Rasmus made in plate discipline and power from his so-so rookie year to his standout sophomore campaign have me believing he’s capable of even more.

His high strikeout rate is an issue and could keep Rasmus from ever posting huge batting averages, but the rest of his all-around game is strong enough to make him a superstar anyway. He’s a plus defensive center fielder with 30-homer power, above-average speed, and enough patience to get on base at a good clip even if his batting average is mediocre. His production last season flew under the radar somewhat, but assuming La Russa stops shielding him from lefties Rasmus’ counting stats will rise this year and should make it clear to everyone that he’s among the elite center fielders in baseball.

  1. spudchukar - Mar 25, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Since he is a Georgia boy, and there have been rumors of him being interested in playing for the Braves, what would you think of a Rasmus/Heyward deal?

    • trasmus3 - Mar 26, 2011 at 7:11 PM

      He is not a Georgia boy. He is from Alabama. Always has been. Always will be. His brother plays on the Braves farm team.

      • trasmus3 - Mar 26, 2011 at 7:23 PM

        But his brother is from Alabama too. lol

      • spudchukar - Mar 27, 2011 at 11:13 AM

        According to Wikipedia, UPI, MLB, Baseball-Reference, Bing, and ESPN, Colby Rasmus was born in Columbus, GA

    • Kevin S. - Mar 27, 2011 at 4:10 AM

      Sure, the Braves are going to trade the next megastar for a guy whose manager actively sought to impede last year. I thought the Braves might free Colby Rasmus, but if they do it’ll be because they dip into their farm system and/or get him on the “out of favor” discount.

    • trasmus3 - Mar 28, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      Well, according to his mom, his dad, his grandad, his grandmom, his high school (In Alabama), his 1998 little league world series record, his 3 brothers he is an Alabama boy/man. Maybe that is a bit of the problem in the US. People have a tendancy to believe the media and anybody else that makes a post that is inaccurate. Being born across the river in Columbus does not make u a Georgia boy. Where you live probably has more depth to the statement and definately if his momma says he is an Alabama boy that ends the discussion. lol

  2. dayrunner9 - Mar 25, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    yeah, right. rasmus and what else?

    • PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 25, 2011 at 6:40 PM

      Actually it’s Heyward, JD Drew and Rich Ankiel for Rasmus. That way the Braves get a full time CF and so do the Cardinals as one of three might be able to play on any given day.

  3. wickedworld123 - Mar 25, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    He’s not a star already? I don’t care about the fanfare or TLR’s dumb ass, he can really play.

    • okwhitefalcon - Mar 25, 2011 at 9:44 PM

      The kids got potential although he looks alot like JD Drew did when he came up with the Cards..

      Would be star turned overpayed barely above average journeyman….

      • paperlions - Mar 26, 2011 at 10:26 AM

        Drew is 14th in career OBP among active players. Being 14th best at the most important aspect of offensive (not making outs) is not “barely above average”.
        .
        Drew is 20th among active players in career WAR, ahead of guys like Posada, Delgado, Berkman, Vizquel, Tejada, Utley, Ordonez, and Texiera.
        .
        He is 31st among active players in career OPS+, just behind Morneau, Youkalis, and Utley, and ahead of Rolen, Victor Martinez, Posada, Jeter, Zimmerman, etc.
        .
        He has been quite a bit better than “barely above average” everywhere he has played. I don’t even like Drew, but I like baseless, inaccurate statements even less.

      • trasmus3 - Mar 26, 2011 at 7:13 PM

        It sure would be nice if he would get overpayed. At the moment he definately is not.

    • paperlions - Mar 26, 2011 at 10:18 AM

      Couldn’t agree more. LaRussa’s little ego was trampled when Rasmus credited off-season work with his father for his improvement against lefties….after that LaRussa regularly took swipes at the kid in public and leaked private conversations to the media to make Rasmus look bad (the only potential sources were LaRussa, Rasmus, and Mos, and there is no reason to think Rasmus or Mos would have leaked the slant that was presented in the papers).
      .
      Then, LaRussa decided to regularly bench Rasmus against lefties even though he was hitting better against them than any OF on the Cardinals not named Holliday hits against anyone.
      .
      I am still bummed that LaRussa came back…for two more years….ugh….all hail the small scrappy white guys that can’t hit, hit for power, or field…but hey, they’ll be trying really really hard while they suck.

      • okwhitefalcon - Mar 26, 2011 at 11:18 AM

        OK, I’ll change my assessment from “barely” above average journeyman to “above” average journeyman.

        Dude has always come off as a less than driven player who’s never reached his ceiling, made what, 1 all star team? Hell, he’s never been the best player on any of the teams he’s played with has he? How many times has he ever had a 600 AB season for cryin’ out loud?

        On topic..

        Rasmus has a shot to be really good, no doubt about it.

        He better take advantage of hitting in the best spot of any big leaguer playing – right in front of Albert Pujols..

  4. elmaquino - Mar 26, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    I don’t get why some Cards fans don’t like the guy. Wrote this in his defense: http://bit.ly/eUbA3E
    He’ll hit 30+ this year.

    • okwhitefalcon - Mar 26, 2011 at 5:00 PM

      I think the kid has a chance to be really good, he has the physical ability for sure.

      That said, I’m not sure he has the mental toughness for the daily grind or the headspace to work himself out of a slump before it gets to “prolonged”.

      He lets his at bats effect his fielding as well, I don’t know how many times I’ve seen him have a really bad AB then throw to the wrong base the next half inning.

      I’d like to see him mature and realize his potential although I think it will be later rather than sooner, if at all.

      • trasmus3 - Mar 26, 2011 at 7:16 PM

        Every year every male matures a bit. Then before you know it, we catch up to the females.

      • paperlions - Mar 26, 2011 at 7:42 PM

        Kind of makes it harder to display mental toughness when your 66 yr old manager picks fights, holds grudges, and refuses to communicate with his 23 yr old player. Managers are supposed to help and support; LaRussa things the show is about him and fails dramatically in those areas. Every young position player has referred to how hard it is to come up to the big club, because the manager and vets ignore you and treat you like they don’t want you there. For Rasmus, it started his first year because he was “taking” Ankiel’s job, who the manager and players loved, but who wasn’t good enough to start for a ML team anymore….so his teammates and manager treated him like a leper…as if being friendly to him was an act of betrayal to Ankiel…yeah, that’s a warm welcome to a team for a 22 yr old.

  5. okwhitefalcon - Mar 27, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    “Every young player”?

    Seriously?

    Guys who came up to the Cards as youngsters like Wainwright, Molina and Pujols sure didn’t have any problems dealing with TLR’s approach, they’ve thrived in it and have gone onto to be leaders.

    Help and support are one thing, agreed on that.

    Babysitting is another, just ask Brendan Ryan…

    • paperlions - Mar 28, 2011 at 7:08 AM

      Okay, every young position player that has come up the last few years. The pitchers don’t have this problem, they all hang out together and work together, but there was (and may still be) a divide between the vets and young players….this wasn’t a secret, there were a number of articles written about how the Cardinal veterans (including Pujols) made it harder on young players instead of welcoming them as team mates.

  6. okwhitefalcon - Mar 28, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    So it’s gone from “every young player” to “every young position player that has come up the last few years” – I can see where this is going, good Lord..

    It’s clear you don’t like TLR which is fine, everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

    But c’mon – scapegoating TLR for a guy who openly pouts is a bit much. A youngster needs to earn respect within the clubhouse then let the chips fall where they may.

    Hell, at least Ryan’s relatives aren’t stoking the fire on mesage boards throughout cyberspace..

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