Houston Astros 30 Players in 30 Days: Colby Rasmus
Colby Rasmus was a late first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2005. By the time he debuted with the team in 2009, he was regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball. In his 22-year-old rookie season, Rasmus slashed .251/.307/.407 with 16 home runs. He followed up in 2010 with an impressive .276/.361/.498 line and 23 home runs, but disputes between himself and the organization led to an eventual move at the 2011 trade deadline sending him to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Rasmus played in Toronto for the rest of the 2011 season through 2014, and in his 3.5-year stint with the team he hit .234/.295/.433 with 66 home runs and 194 RBIs. Again, there were more rumblings about his clubhouse presence in 2014, and Adam Lind told the media in February of 2015, “There might be a few more smiles with Colby gone.” On January 20, 2015, the Houston Astros signed Rasmus to a one-year, $8 million deal as he reunited with Jeff Luhnow, who was the scouting director in St. Louis when the Cardinals drafted him.
Rasmus joined George Springer and Jake Marisnick in 2015 to form one of the better defensive outfields in all of baseball. The left-handed Rasmus slotted into left field and made his Astros debut there on Opening Day, going 1-for-2 with a walk. In his fourth game of the season, he came on in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement and hit a two-run home run in his only at-bat in the eighth inning. Rasmus would finish April hitting four home runs with a .329 OBP and .524 SLG and 27 strikeouts in only 70 plate appearances.
In May, he hit .227/.280/.480 with another four home runs, but continued to rack up a high number of strikeouts and had five games with three K’s in the month alone. Rasmus made an adjustment in June and hit more consistently as he totaled a .364 OBP and only 17 strikeouts while cutting down on his power with only six extra-base hits.
In 48 games between July and August, Rasmus would only slash .200/.265/.387 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs. Through five months with the team, he was average to below average offensively minus a few, short offensive outputs. Things would change for Rasmus, though, and he would be on the team’s best hitters from September on. Rasmus would hit .289/.385/.614 from the start of September with eight home runs and 15 RBIs, including a two home run game on Sept. 20 against Oakland.
On the 2015 season, Rasmus would play in his most games (137) since 2011, set a career-high in home runs (25) and strikeouts (154), and slashed .238/.314/.475.
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Rasmus kicked off his 2015 postseason play with a bang. In the Wild Card Game against the New York Yankees, Rasmus homered on the first pitch he saw from Masahiro Tanaka in the second inning to give the Astros enough offense to secure the win.
In Game 1 of the ALDS against the Kansas City Royals, Rasmus hit an RBI groundout in the first inning to get the Astros on the board. In the top of the 8th inning, Rasmus put the first pitch he saw from Ryan Madson over the right-center field wall.
In Game 2, Springer walked in the first inning and, with two outs, Rasmus faced Johnny Cueto and again jumped on the first pitch saw for a double off of the bottom of the right field wall to score Springer. In the top of the sixth inning, Rasmus faced Cueto again and homered again to give the Astros a 3-1 lead in a game they would eventually lose. The Royals changed their approach to Game 3 and walked Rasmus in three of his four plate appearances. He would record a bloop single in his other at-bat.
Carlos Correa‘s monster Game 4 in the third slot in the lineup forced the Royals to pitch to Rasmus in the clean-up spot. In his first at-bat, Rasmus singled to right field and struck out swinging following a Correa home run in his next at-bat. After Correa doubled in his fifth inning at-bat, the Royals intentionally walked Rasmus. In the seventh, Correa hit his second home run of the game, this one a two-run shot. Rasmus would work a six-pitch at-bat to follow before hitting a deep fly ball that cleared the right field wall and sent the fans at Minute Maid Park into a frenzy.
The magic would end for Rasmus in Game 5 as he struck out three times, but he had done enough to win over even casual fans of baseball in Houston.
More Houston Astros Season Recaps:
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- Jonathan Villar
- Preston Tucker
- Mike Fiers
- Hank Conger
- Chad Qualls
- Jon Singleton
- Joe Thatcher
- Marwin Gonzalez
- Josh Fields
- Jake Marisnick
- Pat Neshek
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- Luis Valbuena
- Scott Feldman
- Evan Gattis
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- Luke Gregerson
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- Jason Castro
- Scott Kazmir
- Carlos Gomez
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What to expect in 2016
Rasmus made history on November 13 when he became the first player ever to accept a team’s qualifying offer. The lofty $15,800,000 price tag will be hard for him to live up to considering that he’s all but peaked as a major-league player.
If Rasmus can build off of the late-season success of 2015, then the Astros will undoubtedly have one of the strongest outfields in all of baseball. The decision to bring him back does not give him the outright job for the season, though, as young outfielders Preston Tucker and Jake Marisnick will fight for playing time in left field as well.