It was inevitable that the Brett Lawrie Folklore would eclipse his on-field contributions at some point. After the gallons of ink spilled in his name during his spectacular debut season and the off-season which saw him win “the cleanest balls in baseball” after all the sack washings from national media members, the state of Brett Lawrie Nation sort of makes sense here in 2012.
Brett Lawrie is going to be a superb Major League Baseball player. He is only 22-years old. The sky is the limit. He is a star and the consummate showman and all that good stuff.
He’s also off to a downright awful start to the season. Yet not a peep. Not a word of Lawrie’s general offensive struggles or apparent willingness to swing at just about anything thrown in his direction. If we’re being honest, we can admit it: he doesn’t look good out there.
Let’s back up a tick here: saying “he doesn’t look good out there” is not true at all. Brett Lawrie looks fanfuckingtastic doing just about anything. Running into outs, steaming down the first base line on another routine ground out, stopping hot shots down the third base line with his chest; Brett Lawrie looks like freakbeast doing each and every one of them.
The insane energy level at which Brett Lawrie lives life makes it difficult to notice his slash line, which is downright bummerish .279/.318/.377. He plays so hard and so fast it is genuinely shocking to notice he has two extra base hits and three walks on the year.
It is very early, of course. Too early to worry and too early to contemplate the various “adjustments” required of a player getting to know the league. With my eyes, Brett Lawrie looks like a guy who lost some of his vaunted patience.
There seems to be an alarming trend towards swinging at pitches out of the zone, a skill Canadian Jesus acquired via osmosis halfway through last season, one he put to great use during his time in Toronto. Fangraphs shows a marked increase in out-of-the-zone swings and swings in general for the young third baseman. Like everything written here, not cause for concern as much as a factoid worth a mental note.
It is a dangerous game, elevating Lawrie beyond his achievements. If (a big if) he doesn’t figure it out, somebody will notice. At some point the struggles will overshadow the mythology and the inevitable sophomore slumps will become apparent to even the most ardently maple-bonered.
Brett Lawrie will forever get rope from a certain section Blue Jays fandom because who, and how, he is. The inertia from his explosive beginnings will carry him through many a slump, with his high-octane approach to the game buying him more and more good will along the way.
Again: still early. But Brett Lawrie’s lack of contribution at the plate bears monitoring. The curious trend of balls beaten into the ground in front of the plate bears monitoring (already 30 ground balls if you believe stat stringers. Lawrie only managed 45 GBs in nearly triple the plate appearances in 2011.) The scorn heaped on players posting better numbers across the board is sad only in its predictability.
Brett Lawrie will be fine. But right now he isn’t. And that is okay. Let’s just admit it is happening and wait for the day his numbers improve. Wait for patient approach to return and then the walks will return to previous levels (2012 walk rate is almost half 2011) and watch as the doubles and triples roll in. They will. But, for now, they aren’t. Just thought you should now, you know?