First of all, let me say thanks to David Appelman for inviting me to the party. It’s an honor to be a part of a team of such great writers, hopefully I can maintain the standard of excellence they’ve set. Let’s just get this out of the way right now: I am a Cardinal fan, so please indulge me a bit this morning as sing the praises of the best Cardinal rookie to come along since Phat Albert.
Colby Rasmus is well on his way to winning the NL Rookie of the Year, but early on in the season, it looked like he might have been quickly shuttled back down to AAA. After his first thirty games, Colby was hitting for a meager .263/.343/.379 line as the Cardinals’ 4th outfielder. The isolated plate discipline looked good, but Colby wasn’t really showing the “five tools” he was hyped for in the minors, particularly power. It seemed all too often Colby was watching strike three go by, and his manager preached to him to take a more aggressive approach.
Normally you cringe when you hear a manager telling a kid to stop walking and start hacking, but at least to this point, it’s working for Colby. Since 5/15, Colby is hitting .283/.302/.531, and in the month of June the young Mr. Rasmus is hitting .375/.375/.625. I guess when you’re beating the living hell out of the ball, what’s the point in taking a walk?
Looking at his plate discipline stats, you’ll find he’s no Pablo Sandoval. He does swing at more pitches in the zone than your average bear — the average Z-Swing% is 65.8%, Colby’s is 74.9%, but he’s not just swinging away at any and everything thrown in his direction. His O-Swing% is 24%, which is major league average. In the minors, Colby walked in 11.2% of his plate appearances, so the ability to draw walks is there, at least in potential.
For another oddity, Colby also has reached double-digits in stolen bases in each of his seasons in the minors dating back to his Appy League days, but only has one steal so far this season. I think that speaks more to his team’s philosophy than on Colby’s ability.
What we’re seeing is a 22-year old kid just starting to figure out how good he is, and it’s only going to get better from here. Colby currently has a .336 wOBA and has played freakishly good defense, with a UZR of 12. His rest of season ZiPS projection calls for a modest .323 wOBA which he could easily surpass. Assuming he’s not this amazing at defense, but is at least a +1 win fly catcher in center as his minor league numbers suggest, and we’re talking about not just the Senior Circuit’s best rookie, but one of its best center fielders, and this could just be the tip of the iceberg of what is to come.