Colby Rasmus looked like a rising fantasy star in 2010. Rasmus, a 2005 first-round pick of the Cardinals who turned 24 during the 2010 season, hit .276 with 23 homers, 66 RBI, 85 runs and 12 steals. His OPS was .859. But Rasmus’ performance tailed off early in 2011 and he clashed with manager Tony La Russa. In a move that was surprising at the time, the Cardinals gave up on their young outfielder, dealing him to Toronto just before the trade deadline.
Trade helps Cardinals win World Series
Many praised the Blue Jays for landing Rasmus for what appeared to be a relatively low cost, including a couple of pitchers due to become free agents at the end of the season. While the two pitchers, Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel, did leave St. Louis after the season, they and another pitcher acquired in the Rasmus deal, Mark Rzepczynski, helped to bring a World Series title to St. Louis last year.
Rasmus, meanwhile, was terrible in Toronto, hitting just .173 in 133 at bats with an OPS of .517.
At the start of 2012, St. Louis looked smart for getting rid of Rasmus while they could still get something for him. After all, their moves had resulted in a title, while Rasmus looked more lost than ever in Toronto.
In the first part of this season, Rasmus did not look much better. On May 17, Rasmus was hitting just .203 with an OPS of .610.
Rasmus heats up
But things started to look up for Rasmus after that. By the end of May, his average was up to .234.
And in his first ten games in June, Rasmus hit .302 with 3 homers, 8 RBI, 9 runs and a .906 OPS. At press time, he was hitting .316 with 8 homers, 23 RBI, and a .974 OPS.
It’s still not clear who the real Colby Rasmus is. On the one hand, his BABIP in Toronto in 2011 was just .217, so he would seem to have been due for a rebound. But Rasmus’ BABIP was much higher than usual in his breakout 2010, when it was .354.
Rasmus is also running a lot less than he did in 2010. He had just five steals all of last year and has only three steals in 2012. When Rasmus stole 12 in 2010, though, he was also thrown out 8 times. While Rasmus had 74 steals in 417 minor league games, the steal no longer appears to be a big part of his game.
The lefthanded Rasmus, a lifetime .210 hitter against lefties, is doing better this year, hitting .240 with a .675 OPS.
But Rasmus’ numbers against righties are much better : .273 batting average, .871 OPS with 12 homers and 35 RBI at press time. So even if Rasmus’ current hot streak does not result in a return to his 2010 form, he is already worth using against righties.