Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
For a 25-year-old former first-round pick, Toronto's Colby Rasmus sure has accumulated a lot of strikes against him with the fantasy baseball community.
The 2010 second half: strike one. The 2011 first half: strike two. And he may have even picked up a third strike from owners who bet that a change of scenery would do him well last August and September.
And yet, as fantasy baseball has taught us many times, all it takes is one hot streak for a player to get back in our favor, regardless of how deep of a hole that player has dug for himself.
Consider Rasmus reborn, even if it will take awhile for him to be redeemed.
The Blue Jays outfielder is batting .330 with eight homers, 23 RBI and a .638 slugging percentage in June. In this case, the reason why Rasmus is succeeding isn't difficult to explain. Hitting in front of Jose Bautista equates to more fat pitches over the plate.
Rasmus moved to the second spot in the batting order on June 5 and has hit there in each of the 18 games since. Nineteen straight games of batting second has provided us with a .357 average, eight homers and 23 RBI.
Of course, the young outfielder has tempted us before with his sweet lefty stroke.
Many owners likely fell into Rasmus' web after his binge in June 2010 with St. Louis, when he hit .286 with nine homers, 19 RBI, three steals and a .984 OPS to back up a strong April during which he slugged six bombs and hit .323.
Rasmus had a .284/.369/.545 slash with 16 homers pre-All-Star break in 2010, but he posted a .265/.351/.435 line with just seven home runs in the second half.
I drafted Rasmus to be a starting outfielder in a 12-team league last season, hoping the youngster would break out after discovering what went wrong at the end of the previous season. Things didn't exactly go as planned, for me or the Cardinals.
Rasmus started out well, batting .290 with three homers, 10 RBI and three steals in 100 at-bats in April, but he hit .253 in May, .213 in June and a paltry .169 in July. He clashed with the Cardinals coaching staff, which thought Rasmus was listening too closely to the advice of his father instead of the baseball minds in the St. Louis clubhouse. As a result, St. Louis jettisoned him north of the border at the trade deadline and went on to win the World Series.
Things didn't get better for Rasmus in Toronto, though fortunately I didn't buy into the hypothesis that Rasmus would suddenly improve once he pulled on a new uniform. He actually did worse in the Toronto duds, picking up just 23 hits in 133 at-bats and putting up a .173/.201/.316 slash.
The shaggy-haired Georgian looked to be on his way out of the league after he hit under .240 in each of the first two months of the 2012 season, but his June surge has given him as many home runs as he had all of last season in 200 less at-bats.
Despite falling into the Rasmus trap several times before, I added him last week in hopes that I can capture his immense potential in a bottle and release it on my league-mates.
Perhaps I'm just masochistic, but I think Rasmus has found his groove in the No. 2 spot in Toronto's order. According to FanGraphs, Rasmus is seeing a fastball 57.5 percent of the time this season as opposed to 52.6 percent last year and 54 percent over the course of his career.
The outfielder is putting good wood on the ball much more often this season, as his 20.7 percent line drive percentage indicates (he was at 16.5 percent last year, according to FanGraphs).
He also has decreased his infield fly ball percentage from 15.5 to 8, and he's hitting less fly balls, which tells me that he's getting under the ball much less this season. Despite the decrease in fly balls, Rasmus is hitting more homers, as evidenced by his 16.1 percent HR/FB ratio, so he's clearly maximizing his opportunities while minimizing weak contact.
Even if history suggests this won't last, we only have to look one spot down in Toronto's order to the man watching Rasmus' back for proof that history isn't always right.