Don’t look now, but Colby Rasmus is good again.
Yes, I know, we’ve heard this before. He was supposed to be a burgeoning superstar with the St. Louis Cardinals after a minor breakout 4.0 fWAR season in 2010, and then again for the Toronto Blue Jays after he was ‘ninja’d’ by GM Alex Anthopoulos in a change-of-scenery trade amidst speculation over potential attitude problems.
Those problems never really came up in his two season in Toronto, but rarely did his prodigal talent either.
Not in 2013, though. This time, Rasmus might just be for real. Since a familiar disappointing .238/.297/.440 start in April that was accompanied by a so-bad-you-have-to-look-away 41.8 percent strikeout rate, the talk among Blue Jays nation wasn’t so much if the center fielder would be set for yet another year of downs, but rather whether he was going to be the team’s center fielder for very long at all.
That line of talk has all been quelled by now, however, as the 26-year-old has slowly but surely been patching things together at all facets of his game.
If you’d had the chance to watch Rasmus do his thing in center this season, you’ll already know that his 8.8 fielding runs above average (fourth among center fielders the bigs) has been well earned. Despite not being a particularly flashy player on the field, he’s shown not only the range that Blue Jays have seen previously, but also a renewed effort towards making big plays look surprisingly easy.
That’s a stark different with his style at the plate, which can essentially be summed up by two words: big swing.
Hacking away at a 31.1 percent strikeout rate on the season, strike three is not exactly a stranger to Rasmus. That vice, however, is more than mitigated by the fact that when one of those swing do hit the ball, it tends to travel a long way. Currently owning a career-best 20.4 percent line drive rate and 17.8 percent HR/FB rate, the lefty bat is on pace to establish career-highs in both doubles and home runs, currently with 16 in each category.
No, he might not be running at all (0-for-2 in steal attempts), but considering that he’s currently third on the team in homers and RBIs from mostly having been at the bottom of the lineup, I don’t think the Blue Jays mind too much.
Besides, when he’s been heating up as he’s been over the last week (.360/.429/.760 line with two homers in 25 AB … leading the with 0.4 fWAR, by the way), why mess with a good thing?
Already a 3.0 fWAR player, Rasmus is easily on pace for a career-best season, and is experiencing a legitimate breakout as one of the AL’s top center fielders after all this time of being a perennial disappointment. In fact, you might even say he’s one of the brightest spots in what has been a disappointing season for the Blue Jays so far.
The only downer? It might just be baseball’s best-kept secret, that’s all.