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Rasmus' Wrist, Plate Approach Hurt in Toronto

Over at ESPN's Sweetspot Blog, David Schoenfield examines the future of three outfielders taken in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft: Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce and Colby Rasmus. While McCutchen is coming off his best season yet and Bruce basically replicated his 2010 production, Rasmus is looking to put a lousy 2011 campaign behind him.

Rasmus hit just .225/.298/.391 and had an 89 OPS+ in 526 plate appearances with the Cardinals and the Blue Jays, whom he was traded to in July as part of an eight-player deal. The lefty hitter performed decently in St. Louis (110 OPS+), but he fell apart with the Jays (37 OPS+) and hit the DL in late August with a sprained right wrist. That wrist problem seemingly harmed his plate discipline and sapped his ability to drive the ball. He chased more pitches out of the strike zone, missed more often and saw his average fly ball distance drop nearly 40 feet:

Team Chase Pct. Miss Pct. Avg. Fly Ball Distance
Rasmus with Cardinals 27.3 23.3 269
Rasmus with Blue Jays 32.2 29.2 231


Most of Rasmus' extra chases came on pitches thrown below the knees. Check out his swing rate by pitch location with St. Louis, and then with Toronto:

Rasmus' swing rate by pitch location with Cardinals. 2011Rasmus' swing rate by pitch location with Blue Jays, 2011

His chase rate on low pitches increased from 32% with the Cards to 38% with the Jays. The average for lefty hitters is about 30%.

Rasmus surely didn't endear himself to Jays fans last year, but he still has three years of team control left and looked like a potential star as recently as 2010.  The batters he most resembles through age 24 include solid big leaguers and occasional stars like Jim Wynn, Roger Maris and Bobby Murcer, according to Baseball-Reference. That list includes Corey Patterson, too. To avoid that career path, Rasmus needs a healed wrist and decidedly un-Patterson-like plate approach.

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