The Houston Astros have the best record in baseball, and a small but important part of that is outfielder Jake Marisnick.
Jake Marisnick has been the fourth outfielder in Houston since 2015. Jake was a part of the haul brought back from the trade that sent Jarred Cosart, Enrique Hernandez, and Austin Wates to the Miami Marlins. He, Colin Moran, and Francis Martes were all brought to Houston in what looks now to be a very positive trade for the Astros. While the other two players from that trade may be more highly touted throughout baseball. Marisnick has been the first to help at the Major League level, and I think it is time he got some recognition for his effort.
Marisnick is the type of player you love to have on your team.
He looks the part of a surfer, and he plays with a swagger that is fun to watch. His speed makes him exciting both on the basepaths and in the outfield. Marisnick’s knack for making insane catches reminds me of defensive studs like Kevin Pillar or Kevin Kiermaier. His willingness to run through a wall to make a catch for his team endears him to us even more. We saw this on display just yesterday against the Rays, when he ran full speed into the center field wall making a spectacular catch. He paid the price, being taken out for precautionary measures in fear of a concussion. But it isn’t just his glove that keeps him on the team.
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Many people criticize Jake for his offensive struggles. We tend to forget that in his first full season in the Majors, in 2015 at the age of 24, Jake hit .236 with nine home runs and 24 stolen bases and in 133 games. Beginning that season, Jake hit in the 9th spot and was a perfect line-up flip guy for a month of the season. He showed that he could be a productive bat in the big leagues that season, all he needs to do is put it all together.
Unfortunately, 2016 was a rough year for him though, as he struggled to even stay over the Mendoza line, and bounced between Fresno and Houston a couple times before finishing the year hitting .209 with only 10 stolen bases. Strikeouts have been his enemy so far into his career. In order to keep his job in Houston, Marisnick needs to cut down on strikeouts and improve his ability to put the ball in play.
Marisnick came into the 2017 season with a retooled swing and a new approach.
He hit well in spring and fended off fellow outfielders Teoscar Hernandez, Derek Fisher, and Preston Tucker for the 5th outfield spot in Houston going into the season. So far, his hot bat has continued, as he has hit .286 in 21 at bats with 2 home runs, one of which helped win a big game against the Kansas City Royals.
Facing Royals ace reliever Kelvin Herrera, Jake lined a slider from Herrera into the Crawford Boxes, and the home run was the first one anyone had hit off of Kelvin Herrera‘s slider. The bomb came in the bottom of the ninth and it tied the game at 4. The Astros went on to win on a walk-off bomb by George Springer. Marisnick showed some real grit I had not seen from him in 2016.
Marisnick will never be a stud for a team, maybe not even a starter. He is however, an important part of the 2017 Houston Astros. his love for the game, and his presence in the clubhouse alone make him valuable, and if he can hit even .250, he has value offensively. Look for him to have a break-out year in 2017.
***Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference***