As I am sure you are well aware, Colby Rasmus is swinging the bat rather well these days. He owns a .393 wOBA over the last two weeks (.363 over the last 30), raising his season slash line to a borderline respectable .248/.310/.454. He is now an above-average hitter playing a premium defensive position (and playing it well.)

While we all lamented Rasmus’ tough luck in the early parts of the season, his recent hot stretch has less to do with regression and BABIP than it does with good, old-fashioned mechanical adjustments.

This is a screen grab of Colby at his lowest point of the year. This AB against Hiroki Kuroda was his first of the night on May 16th. After taking an 0-4 in a win over the hated Yankees, Colby’s season OPS dropped to its lowest point thus far: a mere .610. He didn’t look very good and it was hardly a secret that something was amiss.

Fast forward to last night against the Nationals. Below is a screen cap of Rasmus standing in against Edwin Jackson here in mid-June. Am I crazy or does it look like two different players in the batters box?

Not only is Colby much more straight-up with his hands held higher, he is standing much closer to the plate. Whether this is just a feel thing or about seeing the ball or reaching outside pitches, I can’t say for sure (yet). But the results are difficult to argue.

Looking over some of Rasmus’ at bats, the first time it appears Colby implemented this changes was the game in Tampa on May 21st. Since making this change, Rasmus has a .990 OPS with thirteen extra base hits (five home runs, seven doubles and a triple.) While he has drawn an un-Colby like 3 walks in 83 plate appearances, his strikeouts are also down compared to his normal levels. Also: who needs walks when you are raking everything in sight, amirite?

Via the magic of the animated gif, it is more than just Colby’s positioning the batters box and posture that have changed. Take a look at Rasmus as he prepares to take on Kuroda’s offerings.

Now compare to his at bat against Jackson last night.

The extra bat waggles seem much more rhythmic and comfortable, in my obviously-skewed-by-the-results opinion. We could have added dozens of extra frames in the Jackson gif of Rasmus waggling, waiting until Jackson began his windup. This contrasts with the Kuroda at bat, where Colby cuts off his little routine earlier, bringing his bat behind his head before Big Hirok even comes set.

Whatever the reasons behind the change, it is certainly working for the red-hot Colby Rasmus. He probably won’t keep clipping along with an OPS just under 1.000 but if moving up in the box helps him stave off another prolonged slump, good on him and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy for finding a solution that seems to have unlocked the dormant power in Rasmus’ bat.

Update: thanks to twitter bro Paul for pointing out this is uncharted territory for Rasmus. Take a look at this clip from the height of his powers in 2010. Extremely wide-open stance but sitting in a much deeper crouch. Whatever works, you know?

Comments (88)

  1. Wow great post.

    I haven’t read anything anywhere else about Rasmus making a mechanical adjustment. Nice job.

  2. Nice article. But what a wasted opportunity to link to the video…

  3. I love it when you’re on the DJF beat, Fairservice.

  4. I’m terrifically unobservant when it comes to stance, swing etc. usually, but even I was flabbergasted how different he looked in the box last night. He’s standing so much taller, holds his bat higher, and appears far more concentrated (the latter is almost certainly me projecting).

    He’s always had a sweet swing, but the changes in stance lately are clearly helping it out.

  5. Great work, I had noticed the different stance at the plate but now that I see these two GIFs, it’s much more pronounced than I thought. Should the 3 walks part not be concerning? is this a case of opposing pitchers just not realising how hot he’s been of late and choosing to not pitch around him?

  6. On top of the mechanics, Rasmus seemed to be playing with a higher level of confidence.I know that doesn’t play well here but it should be noted.

  7. Wow. This might actually be visual evidence of the value of a hitting coach. And an answer to the people calling for Murph’s head.

  8. fuck

  9. Who else needs un-fucked? Next!

  10. But i thought Murphy was the worst hitting coach ever? Like for all time even.

  11. Cleatus….best

  12. That’s a pretty drastic difference in he stance, hands and position in the batters box. To do that and succeed is impressive. Damn, baseball players are athletic. Great post Drew.

  13. I remember Mike Wilner talking about how the hitting coaches were sitting him down to make adjustments on his swing just before that Rays series. It’s definitely paid off

  14. drew is the only good member of DJF

  15. So does this maybe settle some of the “un-coachable” BS that followed him from St. Louis.
    In other words… Fuck you TLR

    • You could see it about a month ago in his fielding.You can also see it in his actions.
      In his interview, he mentioned the difference in communication with the coaches of the Jays.He claimed not to talk to much about TLR cause it gets into his head.

  16. On the subject of Murphy and coaching, I’ve always kind of been of the opinion that there are “horses four courses”… one guy’s teachings might not always get through to every player. I don’t think having 2 hitting coaches is necessarily a bad thing, so long as they’re “on message” regarding the team philosophy.

    I think some other teams have gone this way, have they not?

    • “horses for courses”… gah.

    • It’s a good point and people have to remember that no matter how good the hitting coach is if the player himself isn’t making the adjustments then it’s a waste of time.

      I think Murphy has a pretty good record overall when you look at a lot of the guys that have come through here the last few years and end up having career years or just magically flourish into great hitters.

      As for Rasmus AA’s faith in him is easily paying off now. He’s obviously a lot happier (at least from what I’ve seen) and he doesn’t have his dad whispering in his ear or have to worry about the coaching staff dogging him.

      His numbers are on track to equal or better his 2010 season and for a guy that’s just 26, he’s got his prime years ahead of him and more upside.

  17. Big Cheese!

    Wow wow wow

  18. He’s been hitting better ever since he was struck on his #wowwow sleeve.
    Those things need resets, you know.

  19. Trade Rasmus, Aaron Cibia, Yescobar and a young high ceiling pitcher Justin Morneau and Felix Hernandez

  20. [spit-take] All you shitbirds best be tellin’ the truth bout what’s goin on here with my boy. I helped his swing get right not some hittin’ coach who don’t know nothin’ bout my boy. All them videos you got on here keep replaying on their own too.

  21. S’MOOOOOOOOSE!!

  22. Some players tweak stances to help in timing.

    But in terms of actual mechanics one thing he’s definitely changed is his stride foot. Last year his stride foot would plant and lock in place. His mechanical problem was the direction his toe was pointed would prevent his hips from fully rotating through the swing.

    From what I saw starting in his spring training videos, it looks like he freed it up and got his toe pointed further out on the stride, almost to 3rd base which allows his hips to get involved in the swing.

    Whether his results are good or bad right now, the mechanics are improved.

  23. Count me as one who never even noticed the different stance outside of hugging the plate.

    The difference in his body language during the recent streak has been 100% different. Now he’s loose with everyone. They constantly show him talking with Aaron Cibia and Yeaaaa Budddddy! Its good to see – because clearly Cletus is a lot better than we’ve seen from him.

    The defense was always there, but playing the way he can, Rasmus is a HUGE addition to the team.

  24. Wonder if they try and get Lawrie to stand up taller in the box. He really seems to squat down pretty low compared to last year at least as far as I remember.

  25. Is hockey fuckin finished yet?

  26. I’ve noticed that he”s hitting the breaking ball pretty well. He can get thet bat down and whack it, without going over the top of the ball for a weak grounder. Escobar should watch more closely.

  27. I noticed he now has a goatee. Maybe that is allowing him to stay balanced, keep his hands back, and really drive the ball.

  28. Fav post in a loong time.

  29. I’m still concerned about all the sunflower seeds he eats. He could choke. And what happens with all those shells? They are a hazzard.

  30. I was in my seat long before game time at the series finale against Boston, and couldn’t help but notice that Rasmus was one of four Jays (Davis, Johnson and Cooper appeared to be the others) who took batting practice until they took down the cage. Like this post mentions, my perception is skewed by the results, but it seems like the extra work Colby is (might be?) putting in is paying off. Either way, it’s a welcome change from the kind of things we were hearing at the end of last season.

    • I was there too and noticed the same. They were really giving ‘er. I like seeing that kind of dedication – and they were all goofing around outside the cage, which I’m glad to see too (Colby & Rajai are hilarious to watch together).

  31. What interests me is just how quickly he made the adjustment. I remember hearing in the context of Sniders swing adjustments that it takes a while(many in-game repetitions?) for a player to be consistent on every swing. Did this adjustment just happen almost instantly after that May 21st game? If it took minimal in-game repetition for Colby to master the change, that’s pretty amazing.

  32. .248/.310/.454 is hardly above-average even for a CF.

    • Dude, that slash line is above average FOR ANY HITTER, not to mention a CF…

    • MLB average slash line right now = .253/.319/.403/.722

      Colby Rasmus slash line right now = .248/.310/.454/.764

      Colby is (at this point) an above average major league hitter playing a premium defensive position very well. But haters gonna hate I guess.

    • 105 wRC+. 100 is average.

      • Rasmus currently ranks 20th out of 30 CF’s with atleast 150 plate appearances with a .324 wOBA. If you want to claim he’s average that’s fair but there’s no way you can say he’s been an above average hitter at to this point.

        • Fine. Whatever. His wRC+ is 105. 100 is average. He trails hitters like Gerardo Perra, Shane Victorino in wOBA but leads in weighted runs created plus because of ballpark/base running/awesomeness.

  33. MY BOY RASMUSSSS I’VE BEEN PREACHING TO MY BROTHERS HE”D COME AROUND.

  34. Great post Drew. Keep em coming!

  35. [...] a great in depth look at Rasmus’ batting stance rebirth check out Fairservice’s article here. Now I’m going to completely steal his images because I couldn’t find any [...]

  36. [...] On the baseball side, Colby changed his mechanics at the plate, which has been effective.  Drew at Drunk Jays Fans… sorry, DJF… showed us all about this. [...]

  37. He is turning into a great hitter- hitting home runs alot he has like 15 by late june and he judst hit a grand slam last Saturday

  38. [...] – his slugging percentage is just .367 against lefties – he’s improving. Another big change is the adjustment in his batting stance: he stands higher at the plate and is more [...]

  39. [...] show a player who has gone through appreciable growth and development as a player (for example, see this swing analysis from earlier in the [...]

  40. [...] a player who has gone through appreciable growth and development as a player (for example, see this swing analysis from earlier in the [...]

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