A.J. Hinch Let the Astros be Themselves, it Helped Colby Rasmus Get his Career Back on Track
The Houston Astros lineup tends to be streaky at times and tends to flourish when the top three hitters in the lineup are hot, but struggle with other hitters not able to pick up the slack. One hitter who seems to have rediscovered himself when given a second chance in the majors with the Astros; given a second chance by the guy who had a hand in drafting him in the first round with the Cardinals. This player is obviously Colby Rasmus, who became a fan favorite following his epic playoff celebration pictures last year.
Last year, Rasmus’ under the radar signing by Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow proved to be a bigger than expected following the signing. Rasmus was coming off a less than spectacular tenure with the Toronto Blue Jays. Adam Lind said, via Yahoo Sports, at the beginning of the 2015 season on the subtractions of the offseason that, “There might be a few more smiles with Colby gone.” The position players tend to follow the way of Jose Bautista, but Rasmus tended to stick to himself and did not accept advice. Rasmus might have lost the love of the game with his time with the Jays as he looked burnt out in the second half on the 2014 season.
Before that, Rasmus played for the team that drafted him, the Cardinals, but never fit in the veteran clubhouse and dealt with the pressure of being a first-round pick who wasn’t performing. According to a report from Bluebird Banter, Rasmus was told that by Tony La Russa that smiling and having fun was not the Cardinal way of playing baseball. Apparently, Rasmus got in trouble for seeking hitting advice from his father and not hitting coach Mark McGwire.
Rasmus was told early in his career that it’s not right to have fun while playing baseball and people were turned off by his personality. Coming off a poor 2014 where he lost the everyday starting job, Rasmus was not remaining with the Blue Jays. Rasmus has always kept in touch with Luhnow, so he visited with the Astros, and they offered him a one-year $8 million dollar offer for 2015. It was a win-win offer, and the Astros got a potential impact bat for cheap, and Rasmus gets a chance to rebuild his stock.
While we remember what Rasmus did in 2015 in then playoffs, many of us forget that he was an average player for most of the season. Rasmus’ career with the Astros started similar to his time with other teams, and he probably felt like he had to be a serious baseball player and not have fun. Then something happened, the Astros started winning, and George Springer created the ‘Club Astros’ atmosphere that allowed Rasmus to be Rasmus. Rasmus started having fun playing baseball, and his production increased exponentially in September and October.
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For most of his career, he didn’t fit in. Rasmus found himself in a playoff race in September and his game blossomed. In September, he had a slash line of .289/ .385/ .614/ .1000 with eight homers and 15 RBI with 13 walks. Rasmus became the first player to accept the team’s qualifying offer, in which he will receive a $15.8 million one-year deal for the 2016 season. You might wonder why he didn’t sign a longer contract? There were times the past few years that he considered retiring to become a rancher.
This all changed in the playoff push, and Rasmus finally found his true potential at the biggest time for the Astros. Rasmus stayed hot in the playoffs hitting four homers and driving in six runs. However, most baseball experts thought that his performance was a fluke. Fantasy Baseball owners ignored Rasmus this season. Thankfully, I was aware of the situation and saw more value in Rasmus than others did.
Rasmus has rewarded the Astros and fantasy owners with his production so far in 2016, through 18 games, the happy Rasmus has a slash line of .302/ .449/ .698/ 1.147 with six homers and 16 RBIs. He reported early to spring camp this year, has grown his weird but awesome beard like thing, and is batting cleanup for the Astros. A player who almost considered retiring early has a new-found love for baseball with his time with the Astros.
Astros’ fans have grown to love Rasmus, with his epic celebration pictures and his laid back personality, Houston fans love those Colby Jacks. The more success I think he has in 2016 makes me believe that he will stick around past 2016, the grass may be greener on the other side, but why not stay where you are wanted?
**Stats from Baseball-Reference**