Projections are at the root of fantasy draft preparation. As we offer time and time again here at Mastersball, they are the biggest source of our collective pride. We take them extremely seriously.
Yet one must not be lulled into complacency by what the numbers might indicate in a pristine lab environment. One must be continually attuned to the difficult-to-quantify human factor and also take that into account in your preparation.
This point was again driven home to me recently, with Toronto outfielder Colby Rasmus as the illustration.
At Fangraphs, I read a solid analysis piece looking at Rasmus’ BABIP, xBABIP, park factor and strikeout rate. The conclusion is a recommendation to fantasy players to take a shot at Rasmus this season based on his apparent depressed value in early drafts.
While I cannot dispute the data that was presented, I remain uncomfortable.
In full disclosure, I am extremely familiar with this player’s situation from years of personal interaction with him, his father, officials from his former club, the St. Louis Cardinals, and others around the game.
What we have in the case of Rasmus, in my opinion, is an extremely talented baseball player who has struggled to deal with adversity and has yet to take responsibility for his own actions. At just 25 years of age, Rasmus still has time, but I have yet to see the positive signals I would expect.
This spring, former major league catcher Gregg Zaun, a member of the Blue Jays media partner, sportsnet.ca, made comments critical of Rasmus’ play after the outfielder had joined Toronto in trade from St. Louis last July.
Specifically, Zaun called out Rasmus for a perceived lack of hustle. It was a familiar verse to Cardinals fans, some of whom had long compared Rasmus to another ex-St. Louis disappointment from the past, J.D. Drew.
Rasmus, a player who logged one of baseball’s best OPS+ marks in 2010 at 133, batted just .173 with a .517 OPS in his 140 plate appearances after being dealt to Toronto, Worse, Rasmus did not demonstrate the edge in the field that Zaun expected to see.
As one would expect, Rasmus’ manager John Farrell came out in defense of his player. Then, upon reporting to Jays’ spring training camp in Dunedin, Fla., Rasmus addressed the media.
Rather than take the high road, Rasmus returned to familiar ground, dredging up his unpleasant experiences with the Cardinals. We are left to believe lingering concerns over shabby treatment from his former manager Tony La Russa, the St. Louis media and Cardinals fans caused Rasmus’ poor play after joining Toronto.
Rasmus’ father, a key figure in campaigning to get his son traded from St. Louis, suggests the Blue Jays were behind his son’s eagerness to talk about the past. Whether or not that is true doesn’t matter as much as it provides another data point that it is always seems to be someone else’s doing.
What seems to be most under Rasmus’ control, his play on the field, is not going well in 2012. Through Friday, his spring batting average is under the Mendoza Line at .188.
You can decide for yourself, but my conclusion is that unless Rasmus can reach the point where he can look in the mirror and take responsibility, he may be destined for continued underachievement - a career that would be most remembered for what might have been.
What a shame that would be.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.