by Eno Sarris //
He’s a center fielder with power and speed. He’s young. He’s under team control until the end of 2014. Apparently all of these things were not good enough for manager Tony La Russa or the Cardinal’s General Manager, because Colby Rasmus has reportedly been shipped out of St. Louis. That’s fine for us, because all of those facets make him an immediate pickup in most fantasy leagues, and we know that fantasy baseball is the most important game of all.
The full trade looks like it will be the Cardinals shipping Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski and Corey Patterson. The pitchers are immediately more interesting because they are moving to a pitchers’ league and park with a great ground-ball wizard of a pitching coach, but that’s for another time.
The fact that Rasmus is moving in the opposite direction should perk up your ears. The 25-year-old lefty will receive a power boost most definitely. The park factor for home runs by left-handed batters in St. Louis is 84, meaning they are suppressed by 16%. In Toronto, home runs by lefties are encouraged by 16%. Rasmus will also go from playing in Pittsburgh (-27%) and Houston (+7%) to New York (+43%) and Baltimore (+18%). To be fair, Milwaukee and Cincinatti are fine power parks, but the change in home address will be a boost.
There’s a chance, also, that the team philosophy in Toronto will play into his strengths. One of Tony La Russa’s complaints about the young center fielder was that he struck out too much. This year, Rasmus cut down on the Ks and lost his power. Strikeouts are also correlated with power across baseball, so this is not some small sample size thing. The Blue Jays? Their grip-it-and-rip-it philosophy is well known. They are ninth in strikeout rate in the American League and fourth in isolated slugging percentage. They won’t care about his strikeouts if he’s tearing the cover off the ball.
The Jays also like to run. They are fifth in the American League in stolen bases, while the Cardinals have the fewest steals in baseball. When Aaron Hill has 13 stolen bases, you know that the team is okay with giving the green light if you can be successful at least 66% of the time. Rasmus has been successful 65% of the time. Let’s give him a steals boost anyway. He certainly has speed.
Rasmus doesn’t profile as a player that will put up a good batting average. He hits more balls in the air than on the ground and strikes out a little too much to be a .300-hitting center fielder. But if you look past his flaws — something that his former manager couldn’t manage — you can see the power, speed and fantasy value that he represents. Enjoy Colby Rasmus, Blue Jay.
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