The Astros Postseason Hero is Struggling in May and June
The Houston Astros took a risk and offered Colby Rasmus a qualifying offer, hoping that his performance in September and October would carry over into 2016. As April arrived, the Astros looked like geniuses because Rasmus was the offensive leader for the team to start the season. Rasmus batted .263 with seven homers and 19 runs batted in. He walked an astounding 18 times while striking out only 22 times in 95 plate appearances.
I know it sounds weird for me to say only 22 strikeouts, but it has gotten much worse since then. In May, he struck out 33 times and is on pace for 30 in June with 13 so far. The $15.8 million dollar outfielder has been the Astros cleanup hitter for most of the year, moving down the order versus left-handed pitchers. But he hasn’t done much recently versus any pitcher recently.
Versus lefties, he profiles as a platoon player hitting only .140 with four RBI’s with no home runs. Versus right-handers, he hits .243 with 31 runs batted in with eight homers. Why was he so hot to start the season, because they didn’t face too many left-handed starters to start the season. Rasmus was confident coming off the strong showing in the playoffs last season. He had finally found his place with a team as the cleanup hitter for the Astros.
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After the hot start, Rasmus is batting a Carlos Gomez Esque .199 in May and June, hitting one homer and eight RBI’s. The one thing that Rasmus has done well this year is hit well with runners in scoring position on the year batting .328 with four homers and 28 RBI’s. With his recent performance, it’s hard to view him really as an everyday player with his performance, much less the cleanup hitter.
His BABIP has gone down from his 2015 batting average, dropped from .305 to .281. In other words, his batting average when he puts the ball in play has gone down. A possible reason could be that his fly ball percentages have gone down this year while his line drive and ground ball rates have increased.
Rasmus has joined the hitting into bad luck category that many Astros hitters have fallen into recently, as he is lining out right to the fielder or hitting groundballs that he doesn’t have the speed to beat out. His strikeout rate has also declined from last year, but despite putting more balls into play, he’s not performing well in the cleanup hole.
We need Rasmus to pick things up with his bat soon, but going against a few left-handers this week will not help his cause. One good thing about the recently promoted Danny Worth is that he is hitting .396 versus lefties in Triple-A this year via Jake Kaplan. Expect Rasmus to play well in this two-game set as this is the first time he has played in St. Louis since he left.
Rasmus will continue to get playing time versus right-handers in the cleanup hole because he is one of the few hitters that has a RISP over .300 in this Astros lineup. However, the numbers show he needs to be sitting against left-handers. I hope Rasmus has a successful homecoming, and we sure need his bat to win.
***Stats from Fangraphs***