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Colby Rasmus quietly having a great year

Jul 28, 2013, 11:30 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Getty Images

Having read the title, I can no longer do the following exercise correctly, but I’ll do it anyway:

Player A: .295 AVG/.324 OBP/.508 SLG (was in the AL All-Star starting lineup)

Player B: .272 AVG/.336 OBP/.490 SLG

Player A is Adam Jones, universally hailed as one of the best outfielders in the game. Player B is Colby Rasmus, universally panned as an under-performer with a poor mental game. Rasmus was the hero for his Blue Jays this afternoon, driving a ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the ninth, driving in Emilio Bonifacio for the walk-off win.

By weighted on-base average, a more specific measure of offense, Rasmus is in a dead heat with Jones at .358, above the .321 AL average for center fielders. Behind Mike Trout, the two are the best in the league at their position, offensively speaking.

Factoring in defense, base running, and playing time, Rasmus grades as the league’s second-best overall center fielder behind Trout going by Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs. Rasmus turns 27 on August 11 and will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility after the season. He can become a free agent after the 2014 season. At the time the Jays agreed to give him $4.675 million to avoid arbitration in January, it was hard to imagine them wanting to offer Rasmus a contract extension, but it is a very real possibility now after the great season he has had thus far.

  1. tanzkommandant - Jul 28, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Milton Bradley had been known to put up good numbers as well. Both lack TwTw. They are not beneficial other tham on paper.

    • hammyofdoom - Jul 28, 2013 at 11:56 PM

      Rasmus may be a tool but he hasn’t done anything to put him on par with Mr. Boardgame pioneer over there. Rasmus and his dad have spouted off in the media and Colby might be a douche in the clubhouse (I dont know for certain), but Bradley has abused his wife, threatened to kill her plus as said even worse things about teams he’s been on.

      • mathieug79 - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:33 AM

        Actually in Toronto his teammates love him, His father has not been heard of since his St Louis days. The guy can hit, we just need to see it more on a consistent basis, and his defense is awesome!

  2. okwhitefalcon - Jul 28, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    He’ll be a Blue Jay for life if they offer him a lifetime supply of Skittles and chili dogs.

  3. braddavery - Jul 29, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    • mattjg - Jul 29, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      I thought that was out of my head forever. Damn you for posting it and damn my fingers for clicking on it even though I knew what it was.

    • moogro - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      Best fan vid I’ve ever seen. It must be rough to have girls these days.

    • stlouis1baseball - Jul 29, 2013 at 11:22 AM

      I forgot how incredibly chessy that video was. And yet…this time I watched the whole thing.
      I can’t get that 3:48 back Brad. And it’s on YOU!

  4. fukpittsburgh - Jul 29, 2013 at 3:29 AM

    It’s downright disgraceful and in fact almost disturbing that you would even mention Adam Jones and Colby Rasmus in the same sentence much less devote a whole article to it.

    • tc4306 - Jul 29, 2013 at 4:49 AM

      C’mon, Jones is pretty good too.

      • fukpittsburgh - Jul 29, 2013 at 11:06 AM


  5. indaburg - Jul 29, 2013 at 6:20 AM

    I just want to say, I believed in Colby and have supported him all along. I knew he could do it. I’m not just saying that either. I have witnesses.

    • cur68 - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      Word. I got ‘burg on this one. She’s been like his mom; nothing but “You can do it Colby! I believe in you, honey!” & “Don’t listen to the miserable Canadian, Colby! He’s just cold and angry!” Her Colby-spirations have been T-Shirt Worthy. Everyone’s mom should get one to wear to their little league games. I imagine Colby’s mom sounded just like this.

      I, on the other hand, have NOT been a supporter of his. In fact, my refrain for a Rasmus At Bat is: “Get it over with, Colby. Strike out quick so the real MLB players can get the job done” and a minor theme of “Just swing wildly, pea-brain. Its what you do best”. I’m employing a technique known as “The Reverse Jedi Mind Trick”. He clearly thrives on criticism. I imagine this is precisely how his father coached him.

      Somehow, this competing chi-energy (or “qi energy” if you’re into the Asian) has propelled Young Colby this season. I happen to think he needs this kind of conflicting “breath”* energy to get the most out of his at bats. Without us stirring the life energies just so he’d have faded into mediocrity by now.

      *(The literal translation of “qi” is ‘breath’, unless wikipedia has totally misinformed me. Given how much breath ‘burg and I waste on Colby, this is quite the happy coincidence)

      • indaburg - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:37 AM

        You’re nuts, you know that? :-)

      • cur68 - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:38 AM

        But its a good nuts. Like a cashew or filbert. Not walnut. Don’t like walnuts.

      • indaburg - Jul 29, 2013 at 11:02 AM

        It’s definitely a part of your charm.

  6. beelza - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    Colby is awesome. His cheapshot take-out slide of Detroit’s Omar Infante was awesome. That slide knocked-out one of their best players for atleast 7 weeks, probably more.

  7. proudlycanadian - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    His father certainly pushed him very hard to be a baseball player. How many kids are fed protein shakes at a young age or have baths in ice filled tubs? He use to work long hours in the batting cage. This season, the Jays convinced him that the volume of batting practice was counter productive as it was tiring him out. He is practicing less and is getting better results on the field. Playing in Canada is good for him and he has been able to put some distance between himself and Tony. He looks much more relaxed and happy.

  8. buffalo65 - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    It is a disgrace. Colby is a much better player and not as big of a tool as Jones.
    Seriously he has been an undeserving whipping boy since he came over.
    Maybe Gose is expendable?

    • paperlions - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:36 AM

      Does Gose have any value? His defense is supposed be great, but he can’t hit at all.

  9. paperlions - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    Rasmus BABIP by year:

    2009: .282
    2010: .354
    2011: .267
    2012: .259
    2013: .359

    Perception of Rasmus by year:

    2009: Young with promise
    2010: Emerging star
    2011: disaster
    2012: disaster
    2013: Very good CF

    His underlying numbers are actually worse this year, with a career high 30.2% K rate.

    Beware the BABIP-driven breakout performance.

    • Bill Baer - Jul 29, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      Pitcher BABIP can vary wildly from year-to-year and tends to regress to .300.

      Hitter BABIP doesn’t vary as much, as hitters regress towards their own mean. Compare Adam Dunn to Austin Jackson, for example. It’s quite possible Rasmus has improved and is making better contact.

      • mattjg - Jul 29, 2013 at 8:43 AM

        To add to your point, LD% is probably the skill that best predicts a hitter’s BABIP. Rasmus’s LD% has trended upward (albeit slightly) the last couple years. Last year his LD% was a then career-high 20.1%. This year its 21.5%. This indicates that Rasmus may be making more solid contact with the ball rather than getting luckier with his hits.

        I read somewhere that LD% + .120 will give you a very rough approximation of a hitter’s “true” BABIP (speed obviously plays a role too). According to that measure, we can expect Rasmus’s BABIP to regress to about .335 before we take his speed into account. His current BABIP of .359 isn’t a wild fluctuation from this very rough estimate, so he’s not necessarily due for a sharp regression.

      • paperlions - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:16 AM

        I know…but it is the very RARE hitter who can maintain a .350 BABIP, and Rasmus really hasn’t shown himself to be that kind of hitter. The power is real, and the Ks are real, the BABIP is more likely to be random variation than a change in skill….doesn’t seem likely that a guy that already K’ed a lot would be able to simultaneaously increase his BABIP by .70 pts and his K rate by 6% due to skill, to me…the poor contact rate makes this BABIP scream random variation.

      • paperlions - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        I’m not sure about the general, historical relationship between BABIP and LD%, but this year, across all of MLB the average difference is only 0.87 (i.e. BABIP – LD%).

        Using that conversion, Rasmus’ BABIP should only be about .302, assuming average BABIP skills. Rasmus has historically had above average IFFB rates, which is true again this year, which would be about a 3% ding against his expected BABIP compared to league average. ZIPS projects his ROS to be .313, Steamer has it at .298. For his career, he’s at .297 (including this year).

      • mattjg - Jul 29, 2013 at 9:49 AM

        Good observations, paperlions. It looks like there are a few formulas for xBABIP floating around out there, and they include a lot more than just LD%. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find xBABIP as a standalone stat. It’s also interesting to note that league-wide BABIP has fluctuated over the last few years. I really have no idea how legitimate Rasmus’s BABIP is, but I’ll agree that .359 is probably unsustainable.

        Some of the more interesting articles:

  10. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    Who cares about anyone on the bluejays? they are in dead last, they are there to STAY, time to stop writing about this team PERIOD!

    • nbjays - Jul 29, 2013 at 11:13 AM

      As you continue to prove over and over, Harry, YOU CARE about the Blue Jays. Otherwise, why would you spend so much time and effort posting about them?

      Not that most of us give a shit about your opinion, mind you…

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        Harry’s Blue Jay’s envy can’t be disputed. Everyone has proof.
        Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Proof. Everyone has proof. Lots of proof. Everyone has proof.
        A whole lot of proof. You understand where I am coming from?
        If not…lemme just say we have proof.

      • Reflex - Jul 29, 2013 at 3:11 PM

        I think its pretty safe to say that Harry is the Jays’ biggest fan. He writes the most about them, he responds the most about them, he’s just upset they are underperforming, like all true fans.

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