Colby Rasmus got off to a flying start this season – literally – with a home run-saving catch on Opening Day that invoked memories of a similar over-the-wall grab by Jim Edmonds in July 2004 vs the Cincinnati Reds.
It is one of many highlights that Cardinal Nation is hoping for from Rasmus in his sophomore season. While he had a productive rookie year in 2009, leading all first-year players in games played and tied for second in home runs with 16, there were definitely some holes in his game.
Rasmus finished 2009 with a woeful .307 on-base percentage, which ranked 89th out of 103 NL players with at least 400 PA. While his batting average of .251 was not stellar, his lack of walks really hurt him.
Rasmus took a walk in only 6.9% of his plate appearances last year, which ranked 80th out of 103 NL players with at least 400 PA. Amazingly, he went 116 PA without a walk from May 25 to July 5, and didn't walk the entire month of June!
He struggled to lay off pitches outside of the zone, with an overall chase percentage of 25.7% that was ranked 200th out of 288 qualified hitters, according to Inside Edge. Looking deeper into the numbers, we can see where Rasmus was doing most of his fishing.
In a nutshell, Ramsus was trying to be Tiger Woods at the plate. He couldn’t resist the low pitches out of the zone. He chased 53% of those pitches below his knees and over the plate, compared to the league average of 33.1% there.
Here’s a look at Rasmus’ chase percentages, from the perspective of the pitcher vs the left-handed Rasmus:
COLBY RASMUS' CHASE PERCENTAGE IN 2009
Percentages of pitches outside of the strike zone that Rasmus swung at last season
>>league average: 33.1%
Has Rasmus learned his lesson this season? It’s early, and obviously a small sample size, but Cardinals fans should be encouraged by the fact that he already has 9 walks in 27 PA – that’s 33% of his plate appearances – and his overall chase percentage is a miniscule 7.7%!
You can watch Rasmus and the Cardinals at 8 ET against the Houston Astros on ESPN2.