What in the world is going on with the Astros’ Jake Marisnick?
After the trade last year that brought him over from the Marlins, many fans, including myself, were impressed with the speedy outfielder. He was touted as a defensive guy and he was fun to watch as he glided around the outfield, snagging every ball that came within 100 yards of him, or so it seemed.
Then there was his bat. Jake wasn’t stellar, but he was serviceable putting up a .272/.299/.370 with 47 hits, eight doubles, three homeruns and six stolen bases over 51 games. The new guy in the Astros outfield was making fans swoon.
Expecting an encore in 2015
Coming in to Spring Training, Jake Marisnick appeared to be the incumbent to win the centerfield position, even with George Springer and Colby Rasmus on the roster. Many of us here at Climbing Tal’s Hill were rooting for him, though a few had their doubts. I was in Jake’s corner and was pleased to see him earn his spot.
It was the dawn of a new era in Houston. The outfield in Minute Maid Park was manned by guys who could swing the lumber, make flashy plays with their gloves, and look cool with their hair blowing in the breeze as they cruised I-45 in a top-down convertible. What was not to be excited about?
During April, Jake Marisnick was a major contributor to the Astros’ hot start, and we were cheering about his emergence at the plate. He started to cool after the first week in May, and it’s progressively gotten worse. Over his past 30 games, he’s batted a measly .159/.184/.232. In June alone, Marisnick has been so bad that he can’t even get a free pass, and his seasonal batting average dropped -.032 over the past 12 games. Here’s a month-by-month comparison (from Baseball Reference):
Now, to be fair, Jake Marisnick was not looked at as an offensive powerhouse, but the guy has taken a nosedive since those glorious first few weeks. He was so bad last week that we deemed him the “goat” in our weekly awards. Despite his plummeting offensive value, he must still be a wizard with the leather, right?
Looking at 2014, FanGraphs assigned Jake Marisnick a Revised Zone Rating (RZR) of .927, Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) of 8.4, and a UZR/150 (projection over 150 games) of 22.1. Last year that put Jake in elite company among all outfielders, as he would’ve ranked 13th in RZR, 10th in UZR, and 4th in UZR/150. That’s the guy the Astros were hoping for in 2015.
However, if you thought Jake wasn’t passing the eye-test this season, the FanGraphs ratings back that up. This season he’s got a .919 RZR (26th overall), -0.9 UZR (41st), and a -1.8 UZR/150 (39th). FanGraphs would rate his RZR as great (0.940 Excellent, 0.900 is Great, 0.700 is Awful) and his UZR is a tad below average (+15 Gold Glove, 0 is Average, -15 is Awful). Jake hasn’t been atrocious, but has certainly not lived up to the expectations. Marisnick’s glove work has been merely average.
So this leaves me to wonder about Jake’s overall value to the team. Average defense is acceptable, but his batting must improve. Maybe he’s just in a prolonged slump, but his value on the basepaths is negated because he’s not getting on base. He hasn’t had a walk in 15 games, dating back to May 30, which just happens to be the last time he stole a base (prior to yesterday’s game). His speed is a great tool, when he can utilize it.
Whatever is affecting Jake Marisnick, he needs to shake it off soon. With Domingo Santana and his hot triple-A bat up and filling in for Colby Rasmus, Marisnick needs to be looking over his shoulder. No one is swooning anymore.
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