Last year we waited in breathless anticipation for Keith Law to release a project that had first been pitched to him during a September appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast, bringing to us in early December the top 50 players in the game who had exhausted their rookie eligibility, but had yet to complete their age 25 season. And it was worth the wait, with a top ten ranking for Brett Lawrie, a nice write-up on Colby Rasmus (43), and an admission in the chat that followed that he still wasn’t ready to give up on Travis Snider, and had briefly considered putting him at the bottom of the list as well.
Yeah… about all that…
This year’s version of KLaw’s list hit ESPN.com (Insider Only) today, and it’s been stripped of most of its Jays content, partly by the fact that it’s now been shortened to a top 25, but mostly because, apart from Brett Lawrie, all of the best talent on the club’s big league roster has plenty of experience.
It still feels weird to consider that, huh?
Anyway, Lawrie remains on this year’s list, moving down a peg to number eleven, after having been passed by Mike Trout (who he was somehow one spot ahead of a year ago), Jason Heyward, Manny Machado, and Elvis Andrus.
In the piece Law calls Lawrie’s improved defence a “bright spot” in an otherwise down year, but points to the injuries he suffered in 2012, saying that “when healthy, Lawrie has one of the best right-handed swings in the game along with very good hand speed, and as long as he gets full extension he should have 20-25 homer power, if not more.”
“I’d like to see what Lawrie can do in a full season without injuries,” he says, “but guys who play all-out, all the time, as Lawrie does, often find themselves in the trainer’s room more than you’d like.”
As much as everything this year will be magnified and important, clawing out some of that mentality from inside Lawrie’s head may be John Gibbons’ most crucial task. Certainly Lawrie is young enough to still have time to find precisely where the edge is and to learn to control himself well enough to play right up against it, but he’s too important to the franchise not to have that drilled into him constantly. Last season’s “that’s the way I’ve always played the game” bullshit can’t be allowed to fly again.
But hey, at least– at age 23– he’s no longer a close second behind Jose Bautista as the most visible, marketable player on the team. Maybe he won’t be itching to get back into the dugout so badly without so much of the constant burn of smoke being blown up his ass.
Now, on to today’s accompanying KLawchat! Except… since the Jays are pretty much all veterans (and it was mostly about the Hall of Fame anyway), we’ve only got one Jays-related tidbit:
Rich (New Hampshire)
As a NH Fishercat fan, wondering if you think Marcus Stroman will play here in AA when he gets back from suspension
I do. I’d start him there if they want him to relieve.