The Emergence of Jake Marisnick and the Houston Astros
By Jason Burke
The Houston Astros are on a tear, winners of six in a row and ten of their last eleven. While the offense has awoken from its slumber over this stretch, outscoring opponents 51-22 over their win streak, it has been the team’s defense that has been stellar in the first month. One of the leaders of this defensive revolution in Houston has been Jake Marisnick. who has been noted for his glove in the past, but it’s his bat that is getting him the playing time that he’s desperately needed to show off the leather.
As a team, the Astros rank 7th in baseball in errors (11) and 5th in fielding percentage (.987), compared to last season’s ranks of 24th and 25th respectively. The Washington Nationals, who have been predicted by most to win the World Series this season, are dead last in the majors in both categories, having already committed 24 errors in 22 games played. Titles are won on pitching and defense, and while I am not saying that the 2015 Houston Astros will be World Series champions, the future outlook is getting brighter by the day.
For Jake Marisnick, the obvious difference this season has been with the lumber he has been showcasing, leading the team in batting average at .389, while also driving in ten runs, scoring twelve of his own, and hauling down seemingly any ball hit his way.
Want to talk about an early season comparison? In oRAR, a sabermetric measurement for offensive runs above replacement level, Marisnick has a score of ten runs above replacement for the season, while reigning AL MVP Mike Trout has an eleven. While I don’t think that Marisnick can keep up this type of pace, he is playing at Troutian levels right now, and that should not go unnoticed.
The defensive statistics that are listed on various sites do not paint as pretty a picture of Marisnick’s defensive abilities when compared to other center fielders around the league, but that is not to say that he is poor at fielding his position.
The catch in the video is from last season, and while yesterday’s wall crash and catch in San Diego would have been another great video to watch, it’s not available for our use at this time. If you have yet to see that catch, let me paint the picture. Justin Upton at the dish, Dallas Keuchel on the mound. Upton gets extension on a pitch out over the plate and drives it to center field. Marisnick is on his horse–racing towards the wall–and he makes the catch on the track before crashing into the wall in center! What a catch! Marisnick’s cap fell off during the play and his locks will be forever waving in slow motion as this is shown on Sportscenter for the next few nights.
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Something like that.
Marisnick does not need to be the offensive force that he has become. He just has to keep this up until the rest of the bats in the Astros lineup begin to perk up. With his solid defense, Marisnick should see his name on the lineup card throughout the season. In future seasons we should be seeing plenty of George Springer, Jake Marisnick and (fill in your favorite outfield prospect) roaming in the outfield, and even Climbing Tal’s Hill on occasion.