4:00 PM ET – Boston (1) vs. Detroit (1) – John Lackey (2.8 rWAR) vs. Justin Verlander (4.6 rWAR)
8:00 PM ET – St. Louis (2) vs. Los Angeles (1) – Lance Lynn (1.8 rWAR) vs. Ricky Nolasco (0.4 rWAR)
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To say that Brett Lawrie’s 2013 was a tale of two halves somehow doesn’t even do it justice. There was certainly a point where it looked like that was going to be the case– much to our delight. Back in late August, we passed along a comment from a scout who had spoken to Baseball Prospectus and said, unequivocally, “I am comfortable saying that he is going to be a superstar third baseman, and it’s more likely to happen sooner than later.”
At that moment Lawrie was healthy for the first time in basically a calendar year. His swing was quieter, and he was finishing up his best month at the plate since he burst onto the scene in August of 2011.
Taken as a whole, the difference between his first- and second-half splits is encouraging, with the second-half ones being pretty close to what you’d expect of a player who missed Spring Training, rushed himself back into the lineup, went down with an ankle injury, and then came back as healthy as he’d been since the first half of 2012. In the second half of this season his walk rate ticked up by two percent over the first half, and his strikeout rate dropped by 12%, thanks largely to a month of August in which he made crazy contact, combining to walk and strikeout in just 12% of his plate appearances.
His second half slash line of .283/.346/.417 looks very nice for a third baseman who plays outstanding defence (despite not being nearly as well liked by the advanced metrics– perhaps because of the lack of shifting– in 2013 as compared to 2012), and still might have some additional home run power in his bat, considering that he’s still going to be just 23 years old for another three months.
But, while we really don’t want to put too much stock into a single month of data, his September wasn’t so hot, and it would be much easier to salivate over the possibilities of a Jays lineup fully healthy and running on all cylinders, with Lawrie fulfilling his supposed superstar potential, if not for it.