Tag: Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus to Rays: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Veteran outfielder Colby Rasmus reportedly agreed to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

Rasmus will receive around $5 million with bonuses that could reach $7 million, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

“I feel good about it,” Rasmus said, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. “There’s some boys I played with there. It’ll be fun. It’ll be fun to be back in the American League East.”

Rasmus, 30, hit just .206 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI and 38 runs in 107 games in 2016. It was a disappointing season in his second campaign with Houston following a solid 2015 that saw Rasmus hit .238 with 25 homers and 61 RBI.

Rasmus will bring pop to Tampa, though he hasn’t recorded a great batting average (his career high is .276 in 2010 and 2013) or on-base percentage (his career high is .361 in 2010) in the big leagues. Still, his ability to hit the ball out of the park—he’s hit 18 or more home runs five times—makes him an appealing addition to the Rays lineup.

The Rays finished 68-94 in 2016, but their poor record wasn’t the result of a lack of offensive power. Tampa Bay ranked sixth in home runs (216) and 13th in slugging percentage (.426). The fact the Rays batted .243 as a team (28th) is concerning, however, considering Rasmus is a career .241 hitter.

Still, the Rays have historically kept a low payroll, so they were priced out of the market for the top outfielders in free agency. Rasmus should be a solid cost-effective alternative.

Keeping Rasmus healthy will be key, as he has missed 182 games in the past five years.

But Rasmus is an excellent fielder and can play all three outfield positions, so he’ll bring plus defense to an outfield that already includes one of the league’s best defenders, Kevin Kiermaier.

If Rasmus can regain some of his pop from two years ago, he could be one of the savvier signings in free agency.


You can follow Timothy Rapp on Twitter.

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Colby Rasmus Accepts Astros’ Qualifying Offer: Latest Contract Details, Reaction

Colby Rasmus reignited his career as a member of the Houston Astros in 2015, so it’s no surprise that the 29-year-old has decided to extend his stay with the franchise as the team confirmed on Friday.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, first reported Rasmus would accept the team’s qualifying offer for one year and $15.8 million. “Rasmus is the first free agent to ever accept a qualifying offer,” Rosenthal added. “All 34 players who received QOs the past three years rejected them.”

Rasmus’ career arc has been unusual, to say the least. He arrived on the scene with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009, ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect by Baseball America. He put together a terrific 2010 season (.276/.361/.498) and seemed destined for stardom.

A feud involving Rasmus, Rasmus’ father and former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa reportedly led to the outfielder being traded to Toronto in 2011. He put together another strong season in 2013, hitting .276/.338/.501. But in 2014 he slashed .225/.287/.448 with 18 home runs, so 2015’s 25 homers and .789 OPS with the Astros put him back on track as a quality power hitter. 

“Inconsistent” is the word that immediately comes to mind with Rasmus, but the good years are often very good. Using FanGraphs‘ metrics, he’s had four seasons worth at least 2.5 wins above replacement and three years worth less than 1.0.

One thing Rasmus does provide is power, as he has ranked well among outfielders in homers and slugging percentage since 2010.

There will always be limits to Rasmus’ game, notably high strikeout totals. He has struck out at least 124 times in each of the last four seasons, but power is a commodity that every team is seeking. He was a big reason the Astros hit 230 homers last season (No. 2 in MLB behind Toronto’s 232) and made their first playoff appearance since 2005. 

With the Astros on the rise and building around a young core, having a solid veteran presence on the roster who plays at a high level will help the team stay in the playoff mix for years to come.

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MLB’s Unluckiest 2014 Players Who Could Turn Things Around in 2015

When Yogi Berra said 90 percent of baseball is mental and that the other half is physical, he was only half-right. He forgot about luck, which is also some random-but-notable percentage of the game.

Regrettably so, for some players coming off forgettable 2014 performances. Like so many Gil Gundersons, quite a few guys can chalk up their poor seasons to plain ol‘ bad luck, which has indeed been known to make individual performances look a lot worse than they actually were.

There is a bright side, however: Bad luck has also been known to go away. And though not every player who can claim to have been on Lady Luck’s bad side in 2014 is going to benefit from better luck in 2015, we can narrow things down to the ones who should.

In the interests of striking a balance between Internet-friendly brevity and proper thoroughness, I’ve narrowed my list down to five.


David Ortiz, DH, Boston Red Sox

Sure, it’s a stretch to say David Ortiz had a “bad” season in 2014. He OPS’d .873 with 35 home runs. That’s a hell of a “bad” season.

Consistency-wise, however, Big Papi‘s 2014 season was a step down. The previous three seasons saw him hit .311 with a .401 on-base percentage, but in 2014 he hit only .263 with a .355 OBP.

FanGraphs can show that Ortiz’s walk and strikeout rates were just fine. The real problem was his batting average on balls in play (BABIP), which tumbled from the .316-.321 range in 2011-2013 to just .256.

Your first instinct might be to chalk that up to how 2014 was Big Papi‘s age-38 season. That’s ancient for a ballplayer, and ancient ballplayers do tend to lose some oomph on batted balls. 

But Ortiz actually didn’t lose any oomph on batted balls in 2014. In fact, Mark Simon of ESPN Stats and Information says he made more hard contact than all but two other players:

Take a closer look, and you’ll see that Ortiz had the only sub-.300 average among the top four players and the lowest average of any player in the top 10.

Take that into consideration, and you might be tempted to point to a usual suspect: the shift. It’s doubtful that any active player has seen more shifts than Ortiz, and they certainly didn’t let up in what was by far the most shift-crazy season on record.

But you’d be surprised. Ortiz didn’t actually pull more balls than usual, and both his BABIP and his overall production were A-OK when he did:

With no problem there, maybe the only tangible explanation for Big Papi‘s 2014 issues is how he hit more fly balls than usual without upping his BABIP or his home run rate. That’s not good for BABIP.

But is it bad enough to a degree that would knock Ortiz’s BABIP roughly 60 points in the wrong direction? That’s hard to figure, especially given what we know about how squarely Big Papi hit the ball.

So, bad luck looks like the main culprit. If Ortiz does what he did last year all over again in 2015, odds are more of his hard-hit balls are going to find holes and get his numbers looking Big Papi-ish again.


T.J. House, SP, Cleveland Indians

Not unlike Ortiz, T.J. House didn’t have a “bad” season in 2014. In 19 appearances, he posted a 3.35 ERA. That’s not bad at all.

But by all rights, House should have been even better.

On the surface, House’s 2014 season looks like one where you have to take the bad with the good. Thanks largely to his outstanding control, he posted a 3.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio. But with a .332 BABIP and a 17.9 home-run-per-fly-ball (HR/FB) rate, it looks like he had a problem with hard contact.

But once again, we can turn to Mark Simon for a big olnope:

This hard-contact leaderboard features pitchers who gave up the least of it in 2014, and you can see that House is sandwiched in between Johnny Cueto and Jake Arrieta near the top.

That’s not where you’d expect a guy like House to be, but it actually makes sense. 

For starters, the 17.9 HR/FB rate he had last year was inflated by the fact that only 17.7 percent of the batted balls he served up were fly balls. That has a lot to do with how a whopping 60.9 percent of his batted balls were ground balls, an outstanding rate even in a ground-ball-crazy age.

Sadly, House didn’t get much luck when he put the ball on the ground. His .260 BABIP on grounders was 12 ticks higher than the league average of .248.

For this, House can thank his infield defense. It was awful by reputation, and the metrics back that up. Per FanGraphs, the Tribe’s infield defense combined for minus-41 Defensive Runs Saved in 2014.

Fortunately for House, things should be better in 2014. Jose Ramirez is a huge upgrade over Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop. Jason Kipnis is a better defensive second baseman than he looked in 2014. Carlos Santana could benefit from finally getting to play first base on a regular basis.

If Cleveland’s infield defense improves while House continues to rack up ground balls, don’t be surprised if he has a big breakout. Somewhere in him is a sub-3.00 ERA, and luck may be the key to letting it out.


Colby Rasmus, CF, Houston Astros

Unlike Ortiz and House, Colby Rasmus did have a bad year in 2014. He was limited by injuries to only 104 games and hit just .225/.287/.448 when he did play. 

And frankly, Rasmus did some things to deserve such terrible production. Notably, his walk rate took a slight downturn from 2013, and he struck out in about a third of his plate appearances.

It also didn’t help that RasmusBABIP declined from .356 in 2013 to .294 in 2014. Given that such a mark is more in line with his career .298 BABIP, it looks like he experienced a natural regression.

Or not.

Refer back to the hard-contact leaderboard in Ortiz’s section, and you’ll find Rasmus slightly ahead of National League batting champion Justin Morneau. That’s no mirage, as this table from my Rasmus-centric piece can show he hit fewer infield flies, more line drives and longer fly balls in 2014:

Like with Ortiz, it’s easy to look at the lefty-swinging, pull-heavy Rasmus and conclude that the shift is what killed his production in 2014. But once again, that doesn’t really work. His production on pulled balls was either right in line or better than his assorted career norms.

So what Rasmus told Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi rings true: “I’ve been crushing balls, but I haven’t had the luck, the balls just haven’t been finding holes. They’re standing right where I hit it, you know what I’m saying? Bullets. Like if it would have been to the left or right five feet ain’t no way they catch it. It’s tough, man.”

Due to Rasmus‘ injury-proneness and over-aggressive approach, he’ll probably be only so productive in 2015. But if he keeps crushing the ball, it’s a very good bet that he’ll have better luck.

The result could be a return to what he was in 2013, when he quietly OPS’d .840 with 22 dingers in 118 games. If that’s what the Astros get, they’ll be quite happy with their $8 million investment.


Nathan Eovaldi, SP, New York Yankees

On one hand, 2014 was a breakthrough year for Nathan Eovaldi. After never topping 120 innings, he came one out shy of hitting 200. That’s not a small feat.

On the other hand, there was that 4.37 ERA. That didn’t look overly fluky, as he only struck out 6.4 batters per nine innings and gave up 223 hits even despite his high-90s velocity.

There is, however, one thing Eovaldi has in common with House: Though he didn’t serve up soft contact like House did, he did experience a shortage of good luck on ground balls.

Eovaldi wasn’t great at getting ground balls, but he got enough of them with a ground-ball percentage of 44.8. And according to Baseball-Reference.com, that equated to 294 ground balls in his 199.2 innings.

His BABIP on those ground balls? That was .279.

The next-highest ground-ball BABIP among pitchers who served up at least 290 grounders? That would be .270. So, Eovaldi has a claim to being 2014’s unluckiest ground-ball pitcher.

Like with House, Eovaldi‘s defense played a role. The Miami Marlins’ infield defense combined for minus-25 Defensive Runs Saved. His situation should be improved with the Yankees this year, as they have a chance to have above-average defenders around the horn in Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, Stephen Drew and Mark Teixeira.

And Eovaldi should be able to help himself by getting even more ground balls. He’s been working on making his splitter a go-to pitch, and FanGraphs‘ Jeff Sullivan sees two things worth liking: “… And while a pitch’s effectiveness is based on a lot more than just how fast it goes, higher velocities mean greater margins of error, and what was observed toward the end [of 2014] was that Eovaldi was, at the very least, able to keep his splitter down.”

Eovaldi was throwing his splitter right around 90 miles per hour in 2014 and consistently locating it below the knees. That sounds like a picture-perfect splitter, and we know that picture-perfect splitters excel just as much at getting grounders as they do at getting whiffs.

Thus, Eovaldi‘s 2015 turnaround could be the best of both worlds: He could collect on outstanding good luck and also make the good luck come to him.


Jim Johnson, RP, Atlanta Braves

Jim Johnson fell so hard in 2014 that it’s surprising there wasn’t an audible “Splat!” After saving over 50 games in 2012 and 2013, he saved only two while racking up a 7.09 ERA.

But given that Johnson is a ground-ball pitcher, you can probably guess where we’re going with this.

Though Johnson posted a characteristic 58.1 ground-ball percentage in 2014, he was only rewarded with a .291 BABIP on grounders. That’s a staggering 61 points higher than his career mark of .229.

Naturally, it didn’t help that Johnson pitched in front of two shaky infield defenses. The Oakland A’s infield wasn’t anything special outside of Josh Donaldson, and the Detroit Tigers infield wasn’t much to look at outside of Ian Kinsler.

The Braves should suit Johnson better. He’ll love pitching to Andrelton Simmons, and Alberto Callaspo and Freddie Freeman are solid defenders themselves.

There is a catch, however, and that’s that better luck on ground balls will only solve half Johnson’s problems. He also walked nearly six batters per nine innings, which he can’t blame on his defense.

Or can he?

Despite his elevated walk rate, Johnson actually threw a higher percentage of pitches in the strike zone (43.6) than he did in 2013. What really changed was how often his strikes were actually called strikes. Per figures pulled from BaseballSavant.com, Johnson went from a 92.6 called-strike percentage in 2013 to a meager 82.4 called-strike percentage in 2014.

That’s partially on umpires, and partially on his catchers. If Christian Bethancourt proves to be a solid pitch-framer in his first full season in 2015, Johnson shouldn’t have the same problem.

If so, then simply moving to the Braves will solve both of the major luck-based problems he had in 2014. That could turn Johnson’s fall from grace around in a hurry.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Updating the Hottest Questions of the 2014-2015 MLB Offseason, Week 9

With 2014 now over and 2015 just beginning, Major League Baseball is two full months into what has been an incredibly active offseason. But there’s no shortage of rumors and speculation—and questions—around a number of free agents and trade candidates, as well as teams’ objectives and plans of attack.

Some of the latest buzz centers on the dwindling number of even semiproductive position players still on the open market, the potential availability of the versatile Ben Zobrist and whether right-hander Johnny Cueto might be on the move.

Having covered a number of topics last time, what better way to continue taking the temperature of the hot stove than by running through a batch of the hottest questions to cover the latest potential transaction action across the sport?

See, that’s a question in and of itself, although the four to follow are a bit more meaningful. Promise.

Begin Slideshow

Predicting MLB’s Next Big Dominoes to Fall After Wild Offseason Week

The market for free-agent hitters thinned out quickly Monday when the Boston Red Sox reportedly agreed to sign Pablo Sandoval, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, as well as Hanley Ramirez, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.

With arguably the two best remaining free-agent bats now off the board, we should begin to see the market for secondary players—the guys who aren’t looking at a potential nine-figure payday—take shape.

It can be argued that some teams might have seen the Ramirez and Sandoval signings coming and decided to get ahead of the market. For example, the A’s snatched up Billy Butler last week for three years and $30 million, while the White Sox signed left-handed slugger Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25 million pact.

There’s still an intriguing crop of hitters available on the market, but with the winter meetings on the horizon, that might not be the case for much longer.

The market for pitching is a much different story, as class headliners Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields are all waiting on each other to sign and establish a market rate for an ace. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the top relievers come off the board in the near future.

With all that said, here’s a look at free agents who could be the next to sign.


Chase Headley, 3B

Teams that missed out on Sandoval—including the Giants—and those that might have viewed Hanley Ramirez as an option at third base will now shift their attention to Chase Headley, the obvious beneficiary of Monday’s signings.

Headley has never been considered a potential near-$100 million free agent, but any team that signs him will be getting one of the more well-rounded players on the market.

By now, we all know that Headley isn’t going to be the guy that hit .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI with the Padres in 2012. Over the last two seasons, he’s batted .246/.338/.387 with 26 home runs and 99 RBI.

However, Headley’s career .347 on-base percentage and 10.3 percent walk rate highlight his ability to reach base at a favorable clip, and he still proved to be a slightly above-average player (103 wRC+) last season despite posting career worsts with a .243 batting average and .700 OPS.

Beyond that, FanGraphs recognized Headley as the top defensive third baseman in baseball last season, giving him the highest overall rating (22.8) thanks to an MLB-best 20.9 ultimate zone rating (UZR). More importantly, Headley also ranks first in both categories since the start of the 2012 season, with a 41.6 Def and 35.2 UZR.

One drawback with Headley is he’s entering his age-31 season and has seen his share of injuries in recent years. Specifically, thumb and back injuries limited him to 141 games in 2013, while leg and back issues resulted in 135 games played in 2014. At the same time, the fact that he played 161 games in both 2010 and 2012 could help ease some of the concerns regarding his durability.

As of now, there’s a relatively short list of teams reportedly in the market for Headley, but that’s sure to change in the wake of Sandoval’s signing. The Yankees are said to be interested in bringing him back next season, and the two sides have already had begun a dialogue, reports Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com:

According to the source, a baseball executive who requested anonymity because he is not involved in the negotiations, doubts among the Yankees’ “baseball people” about the ability of [Alex] Rodriguez — who will not have played in a major league game in more than 18 months and will turn 40 on July 27 — to play third base regularly next season have made signing Headley a priority this winter.

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports believes the Giants are “likely” to pursue Headley after failing to re-sign Sandoval.

Even if it’s just a bidding war between the Yankees and Giants, there’s reason to believe Headley is going to sign sooner rather than later.



Andrew Miller, LHP

Andrew Miller, 29, was one of the best relievers in baseball in 2014, posting a 2.02 ERA, 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.5 walks per nine while appearing in 73 games for the Red Sox and Orioles.

Now, he’s looking to get paid like one of the best relievers in baseball.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported on Nov. 13 that 22 teams had contacted Miller. Now, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports hears that Miller has multiple three-year offers on the table.

According to a report from Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (h/t MLB Trade Rumors‘ Steve Adams), Miller is looking for nothing less than a four-year contract that has “astounding” average annual value. For what it’s worth, Morosi believes that multiple teams extending Miller three-year offers means he’ll likely to end up signing a four-year pact.

Normally, giving a deal of that length to a non-closer can be risky, especially one coming off a career-best season like Miller, where subsequent regression seems inevitable. But as David Schoenfield of ESPN.com writes, the market price for a reliable late-inning arms isn’t getting any cheaper, meaning Miller, entering his age-30 season, could be well worth the investment:

Miller doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear on his arm, so a three- or four-year contract should lock up his prime years. For those who don’t think teams should spend big money on a bullpen, just look at your 2014 World Series winners. The Giants had a veteran bullpen with Santiago CasillaSergio RomoJeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez all making at least $4 million. The days of relying solely on a bargain-basement-priced bullpen might be over.

As for the market, Zach Duke has been the only notable left-hander to sign this offseason, inking a three-year, $15 million contract with the Chicago White Sox. And once Miller comes off the board, there won’t be many viable options:

However, Miller isn’t your ordinary left-handed reliever; his dominance against both right- and left-handed hitters makes him a hot commodity, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick previously heard that some teams are considering him as a closer.

“I think Andrew’s evolution in the bullpen and his numbers this year fortify the belief in baseball that he’s a closer-in-waiting—and maybe the time for waiting is over,” Mark Rodgers, Miller’s agent, said via Crasnick.

Miller’s price tag will be steep, but the fact that he wasn’t eligible for a qualifying offer, thanks to a midseason trade to Boston, means he’ll likely have a variety of potential suitors, and I’d expect all those clubs to make him favorable offers.


Colby Rasmus, OF

Colby Rasmus enjoyed arguably the best season of his career in 2013, batting .276/.338/.501 with 22 home runs and 26 doubles in 458 plate appearances. His two other full seasons with the Blue Jays have been a much different story, a story featuring .225-or-worse batting averages, sub-.290 on-base percentages and worsening strikeout rates.

“Last year at the end of the season I definitely didn’t think I’d be in this position right now,” Rasmus said via John Lott of the National Post. “I thought things were looking up and I definitely was excited and didn’t see it going this way. But it is what it is. Baseball’s a crazy game, and it just didn’t work out for me.”

However, there’s reason to believe the 28-year-old Rasmus might still have some good seasons ahead of him. The left-handed hitter should continue to offer his usual above-average power in the coming years, as he’s an extreme fly-ball hitter who drives the ball to all fields with authority.

The only potential impediment to Rasmus’ power output is his health, as he’s spent time on the disabled list in three of the last four seasons.

Lastly, the center fielder’s defense is bound to improve compared to his subpar showing in 2014.

It’s difficult to predict how the market will treat Rasmus, arguably the top reclamation project in this year’s free-agent class, but there’s definitely going to be a market, and soon.

Rasmus isn’t in the same tier as Melky Cabrera or Nick Markakis, obviously, but there’s still something to be said for a younger player capable of hitting 20 home runs and holding down center field. While he doesn’t benefit from a positional standpoint with the Ramirez and Sandoval signings, Rasmus’ stock does receive a slight boost given the lack of remaining power hitters on the market.

While some teams might offer him a cheap multiyear deal, Rasmus’ age and untapped potential make him a strong candidate to sign a one-year contract, hoping that a bounce-back performance nets him a big payday next offseason.

For what it’s worth, Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors believes Rasmus will sign a one-year deal worth $12 million but “would not be surprised if he ultimately scores a three-year pact.”

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Toronto Blue Jays: Why Colby Rasmus Has Been the Team’s Best Player in 2013

There were plenty of expectations placed on the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the 2013 season. The word “expectation” has not been kind to the team, as the reality of the situation is that the Jays have not lived up to them. 

With that in mind, picture yourselves before the first pitch was thrown on this mesmerizingly disappointing Blue Jays season: You look up and down the lineup and the rotation without finding one major glaring hole; you see names like Dickey, Bautista, Encarnacion, Reyes, Johnson and wonder which of them would prove to be the team’s most valuable player come the end of August. 

I bet Colby Rasmus‘ name did not immediately pop up in your mind. 

Nevertheless, in a season defined by disappointment, there have been a few silver linings, and the Jays centre fielder would certainly fit in that category.

Rasmus has very quietly put together his strongest and most complete campaign as a Blue Jay, outperforming the All-Stars like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. 

It’s safe to assume that none of the starting pitchers on the Jays roster have been as productive as Rasmus, Encarnacion or Bautista, so let’s compare these three players, starting with the straight, standard offensive statistics: 

Encarnacion: .273 / 31 HR / 93 RBI

Bautista: .259 / 28 HR / 73 RBI

Rasmus: .273 / 18 HR / 60 RBI

If Rasmus is not on the same level as Encarnacion and Bautista for typical run production stats, he’s at least in the same ballpark. While Encarnacion and Bautista have both created just over six runs per game, Rasmus currently sits at 5.9 RC/G. If scoring runs are the name of the game in baseball, Rasmus has been one of the Jays’ top performers. 

However, scoring runs is just one part of baseball, and Rasmus has separated himself from his teammates with his defensive significance. 

Significance is a great word to describe Rasmus’ overall effectiveness in centre field.

The old-school saying is that defence up the middle is hugely important to success on the field. Basically, having strong defenders at catcher, shortstop, second base and centre field is more important than having defensive stalwarts at any of the other positions.   

Rasmus has patrolled the Jays outfield incredibly effectively in 2013. 

While there are certain intangibles with having a reliable and confident centre fielder, there are some metrics that reveal Rasmus’ defensive performance in 2013. 

Last year, Adam Jones won the AL Gold Glove for centre fielders, and Mike Trout is widely regarded as one of the best defensive centre fielders in the major leagues. 

Defensive runs saved above average is a stat that essentially attempts to assign the number of runs a fielder saved or cost his team. Here are the defensive runs saved above average stats for Rasmus, Jones and Trout from 2013, along with their defensive wins above replacement:

Adam Jones: -3 / 0.1

Mike Trout: -9 / -0.8

Colby Rasmus: +7 / 1.1

Statistically, Rasmus is only one of the top pure centre fielders in the majors in terms of defensive ability.

The only players who have a higher defensive wins above replacement with at least 100 games started at centre field are Milwaukee‘s Carlos Gomez and Boston‘s Jacoby Ellsbury. 

If Rasmus was competing with Encarnacion and Bautista for who has been the Jays’ best player in 2013, defence has set him apart. 

Both Encarnacion and Bautista have fairly average defensive numbers, with -1.3 and 0.0 dWARs, respectively. While Bautista is dangerous and flashy in right field, his position is much less crucial to a team’s overall defence, making Rasmus much more valuable. 

Diving into more detailed statistics shows that Rasmus has been as valuable or more valuable than the typical Jays “stars.” He trails only Bautista in total wins above replacement, leads the team in defensive wins above replacement and leads the team in wins added. 

While the numbers support Rasmus’ breakout season, sadly, the easiest part of declaring him the Jays’ best player from 2013 is that his play has been encouraging rather than disappointing. 

It’s a testament to the team’s struggles that Rasmus, who has had a solid but not spectacular season, has been the roster’s most reliable performer.

All statistics via baseball-reference.com.

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Colby Rasmus Joins Albert Pujols Among Struggling Ex-Cardinals

Remember Colby Ramsus?

Ramsus was hailed as the next Jim Edmonds, a franchise center fielder who was to bring championships with his bat at well as glove.

The Cards’ former top prospect was a vital piece in the Cardinals‘ championship year, but not because of what he did for the team, but rather what he was able to bring back in a trade involving him and the Toronto Blue Jays.

While young Colby was impressive in his early stint with the Cardinals, it was clear that he was not going to be around very long when he and then manager Tony La Russa were not seeing eye to eye on Rasmus’ issues. 

So what does each team have to show for the trade that went down before last year’s deadline?

Well for one, the Cardinals decided to hold on to lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski. Although he has not performed as admirably as he did in the postseason, Rzepczynski is only twenty-six years old and has plenty of room to improve. 

St. Louis will also receive two first sandwich round compensation draft picks as a result of letting Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel go to the Washington Nationals and Detroit Tigers respectively. 

Meanwhile, in Toronto, Ramsus is hitting just above the .220 mark with only 13 RBIs and is on pace to break his previous record of 148 strikeouts, a mark he set during the 2010 season. 

The Blue Jays aren’t doing too well as a team either.

While their overall team record might be considered a success at this point in the season, once again it looks like the AL East will provide a few playoff teams, and with the Jays sitting at fourth place, they will have the arduous task of overtaking the always-favored New York Yankees, battling their way through the young upstart Tampa Bay Rays, and dethroning the ultra-surprising Baltimore Orioles, who hold the division lead. 

How goes it in St. Louis’ center field, you might ask? 

Very well actually. John Jay is out batting everyone on the team, getting on base with a .426 OBP and scoring runs. 

The Miami native is doing everything asked of him following a great postseason run. 

While he might not have the mystique or pedigree of Colby Rasmus, Cardinal fans have accepted Jay into their homes and wouldn’t take back that trade in a million years. 

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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2012: Late-Round Gems Who’ll Save Your Team

Fantasy owners who missed out on Jose Bautista and other monster bats need not worry—James Loney and more will still be available to add some seriously underrated pop to your lineup.

Each year, participants look for steals. The expectation is that these late-rounders produce just enough to suffice.

The players on this list will do more than that.

They’re that final piece—the one that transitions your squad from middle of the pack to top dog.

Best of all, you can sneak them late.


James Loney, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

Loney is consistent for a .288 batting average, 160 hits, 12 home runs and 85 RBI.

These aren’t bad stats at all.

Loney turns 28 this season, so he’s now in the thick of his prime.

That being said, there are no more excuses for Loney not to burst through the ceiling he’s made for himself.

The Dodgers’ financial situation has been solved. He’s surrounded by talented players such as Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. He’s playing in a contract year.

Loney is entering his seventh season in the majors. Look for him to produce his best season to date.

Projected 2012 stats: .292 BA, 179 hits, 19 HR, 94 RBI.


Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

In just 48 games last season, Goldschmidt hit a respectable .250.

More impressively, he hit eight home runs and 26 RBI in the same span.

Furthermore, most of his production came late in the season, helping the Diamondbacks over the hump and into playoffs.

In four playoff games in 2011, he hit .438 with two home runs and six RBI.

Look for Goldschmidt, only 24 years old, to enter 2012 still hot.

His confidence is already high from last year and now he’s surrounded by an upgraded offense and pitching staff.

Goldschmidt will definitely be around late for you to steal.

Projected 2012 stats: .282 BA, 158 hits, 23 HR, 85 RBI.



Lucas Duda, RF, New York Mets

In just over half a season, Duda hit .292 with 88 hits, 10 home runs and 50 RBI.

He has the consistency to put up similar numbers in the same amount of games.

Duda will be a full-time starter in 2012, so all of his stats should rise with near 162 games.

One scouting report compares Duda’s production to that of Aubrey Huff, Raul Ibanez and fellow sleeper candidate Brennan Boesch.

With mumblings of David Wright possibly on the move, Duda may be forced into being “the guy” for the Mets.

For Duda, that’ll be even better.

Projected 2012 stats: .285 BA, 141 hits, 18 HR, 88 RBI.


Colby Rasmus, CF, Toronto Blue Jays

Rasmus is a consistent hitter who is only getting better with age.

Lucky for fantasy owners, he’s only 25 years old. His production should continue to rise.

In 35 games with the Blue Jays last season, Rasmus hardly dazzled.

But coming over late in the season from the eventual World Series champions to an out of contention AL East team could plague anyone’s season with letdown.


2012 is Rasmus’ time to shine.

The Blue Jays are poised to surprise many this year.

The team has patiently put together a young team of studs who can compete with the best. The addition of another wild-card spot helps those chances too.

Surrounded by talent, the expectation is that Rasmus will contribute at a high level.

He’s shown he can do it.

In his best season at 23 years old, he hit .276 with 23 home runs, 66 RBI and 12 stolen bases. Look for Rasmus to produce similar, if not, better numbers in every category this season.

Projected 2012 stats: .279 BA, 152 hits, 19 HR, 79 RBI.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Pitchers Beware: Colby Rasmus May Be This Season’s Carlos Gonzalez

Whether he becomes a one-year wonder remains to be seen, but Carlos Gonzalez will enter the 2011 season as one of the most feared hitters in the National League. Actually, in the NL West, the only hitter that may give pitchers nightmares more than Gonzalez is his teammate, Troy Tulowitzki.

Gonzalez broke out in a huge way in 2010. In 145 games, he hit .336/.376/.598 with 111 runs scored, 197 hits, 34 doubles, 9 triples, 34 homers, 117 RBI’s and 26 stolen bases. 

He led the National League in hits, total bases and batting average. CarGo also finished third in the NL MVP voting, won his first Gold Glove and also his first Silver Slugger.

Prior to his enormous 2010 season, Gonzalez played in parts of two seasons with the Athletics and Rockies. Combined, he played in 174 games, scored 84 runs, 152 hits, 36 doubles, 8 triples, 17 homers, 55 RBI’s and 20 stolen bases.

He always had tons of potential, but he never showed any signs of cashing in on any of it.

This season, that player could easily be Cardinals’ center fielder, Colby Rasmus.

Like Gonzalez, Rasmus is a young lefty with some pop in his bat. Really, the only thing different about the two is that Rasmus has been an everyday player in his first two seasons in the bigs.

In 2009, his rookie season, Rasmus hit .251/.307/.407 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI’s. He had 119 hits and 22 doubles.

2010 saw slightly more success for Rasmus, as he hit .276/.361/.498 with 23 home runs and 66 RBI’s.  He had 128 hits and 28 doubles.

Rasmus made slight improvements between his rookie and sophomore campaigns, but expect signs of greatness this season.

Rasmus clearly has the potential to produce at the level Gonzalez did in 2010 and he may channel that potential this season.

A season like Gonzalez’s 2010 may be a reality for Rasmus this season.  He has a lot of power and has the ability to drive in runs with the lineup that he hits in.  Stealing 26 bases might not happen, but a respectable 15 is a possibility.

So pitchers, beware.  Rasmus could be in line for a .300/.370/.550 season with 30+ dingers and 100+ RBI’s, and he could be one his way to becoming one of the more feared hitters in the National League.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fantasy Baseball 2011: 5 Young NL Outfielders To Target on Draft Day

As January comes to an end and pitchers and catchers embark on warmer weather down south, fantasy baseball draft boards and dreams of greatness will slowly come out of hibernation. 

For those eager managers looking to get a leg up on the competition, here is a list of five young national league outfielders to target this spring. 


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