Community Projection and Discussion: Colby Rasmus

Yesterday's McGwire/Rasmus photo—I have included another, although I had to fight to use the 2007 Jim Edmonds file photo that showed up in the AP browser overnight—reminded me that if 2009 hadn't been the year that UZR became available on a constantly updated, free, easily searchable basis, Colby Rasmus's rookie year would have been seen as a striking disappointment. And that reminded me that it was time to decide, collectively, what would qualify as a colossal disappointment for Rasmus in 2010. 

With that in mind, my first effort at a Google Docs community projection can be found here.

One thing to keep in mind, having had to throw out a few Hall of Fame ballots: You have to have a VEB username to participate in the community projections. If you don't have one, signing up is free and easy and initiated by clicking the big Start Posting about the Cardinals button—I just logged out to make sure it existed. You won't be able to post comments immediately—there's a two day probationary period, if I remember correctly—but when I'm running usernames against the administrator list, I'll be able to see it. 

So: the categories, as ever, are AB, R, HR, RBI, AVG, OBP, and SLG. After the jump: analysis. If you're worried about my half-formed opinions (and more importantly your fellow commenters talking about their own projections in the comments) affecting your judgment, fill yours in now. (The link again.)

Here's Rasmus's career to this point, with MLEs (from Dan Szymborski's zMLE spreadsheet, a must-download) swapped in for his years in the minors: 

Year G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG
2006 131 510 54 128 22 7 14 72 43 101 19 .251 .314 .404
2007 128 490 70 119 32 3 19 54 54 117 14 .243 .328 .437
2008 90 339 50 83 14 0 8 30 42 73 13 .245 .327 .357
2009 147 474 72 119 22 2 16 52 36 95 3 .251 .307 .407

Thoughts:

  • Wow. Those 2007 MLEs for his big breakout in Springfield—he hit.275/.381/.551—are certainly one way of urging caution re: the lesser prospects who put up big numbers in the friendly confines of the Texas League. (Daryl Jones's 2008, if you're curious: .238/.336/.362. Tyler Henley 09: .262/.316/.380. Daniel Descalsco 09: .261/.331/.410, which actually doesn't seem so bad...) Of course, Rasmus also put up that number as a 20 year-old. Justin Upton (.250/.353/.463 in Arizona in 2008) was the first MLB 20 year-old who came to mind, and is not all that far removed.
  • Rasmus had solid plate discipline in the minors, and it's reasonable to expect he'll get back around the league average OBP in 2010, but unless he goes full Cameron and suddenly begins walking 75-80 times a year, he'll need to get that batting average out of neutral.
  • Speaking of which: when Rasmus's numbers are arranged like this, with his batting average stuck around .250, Mike Cameron begins to look like a fair comparison. That would be something of a disappointment for Rasmus, who was drafted with offense in mind, but given the way his defense has bloomed since 2005 it wouldn't be the end for him as an all-star caliber player. That said, given the weird shape of Rasmus's year and his various maladies, an offensive breakout doesn't seem out of the question. Goal for 2010: walk at least once in every month

Rasmus's apparent defensive skills provides a cushion for his continued offensive development. His 13.4 UZR/150 might not be his true talent level, but even if his offensive development is marginal at best he'll be a fine center fielder, no hindrance to a plausible playoff team. If he does take the next step, or even just a step, he's among the best players on the team. At 24, and with the Cardinals' budget tied up, that's great to see.

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