Sunday, May 20th. One month ago the Blue Jays were just finishing up their first interleague series of the season against the New York Mets. Rasmus had been in a deep funk since the beginning of the season and by May 18th his triple slashline had sunk to a very poor .203/.277/.338 good for a .615 OPS. In a recent interview with Drew Fairservice of the Score, Rasmus mentioned that it was on May 20th that Rasmus changed his batting stance. Rasmus is standing closer to the plate, and is much more upright in the batter’s box. For a great in depth look at Rasmus’ batting stance rebirth check out Fairservice’s article here. Now I’m going to completely steal his images because I couldn’t find any others.
|Rasmus on May 16|
|Rasmus on June 11|
Since making this change, Colby has hit .321/.368/.615 with 7 homeruns, which parlays into a .982 OPS in 26 games with 117 plate appearances. A .420 wOBA is nothing to sneeze at, and his amazing turn around has led to a wave of media and fan attention.
The pessimists will say that the Blue Jays outfielder is simple experiencing a momentary hot-streak and will inevitably sink back into the offensively handicapped Rasmus we saw in the first 39 games of the season.
Colby’s .341 BABIP in this timeframe indicates that there may be some regression on the horizon, but Colby has been hitting the ball hard, pulling the ball as a result of his new position in the batters box. This increased power and Rasmus’ moderate speed will usually give him a better than average BABIP. Even if some regression is inevitable Rasmus’ new batting style, these gains have to be seen as a positive.
There are some worrisome peripheral stats that may be a better indicator of Rasmus’ progress in the offensive department: Rasmus has drawn just 7 walks in the past month (a single walk in the 19 games leading up to last night where he walked twice) and he is still striking out far too often. Rasmus is still not hitting lefties enough either, hitting just .209 with only four extra-base hits to his name.
If last night’s game against the Brewers was an indication that he’s comfortable enough with his new stance that he will go back to taking balls, it’s a good sign for Jays fans. He also picked up one of those walks in addition to his only hit of the night off of lefty Randy Wolf (small-sample-size-alert!).
Rasmus hitting second in front of Bautista and Encarnacion has to be an ideal 2-3-4 sequence in the team’s batting order, one that I can see staying together for the next couple of years if Encarnacion is back with the club next year.
Rasmus’ great defence combined with his ever-climbing batting line have made him one of the team’s most valuable assets – his 2.0 WAR is good for second on the Jays behind only Brett Lawrie and sixth among Major League CF’s (according to FanGraphs). As a Jays fan I’m hopeful that this Rasmus is here to stay, providing a solid building block moving forward.