Colby Rasmus vs Dalton Pompey: Are Blue Jays Better Off?
If you’ve been paying attention over the last few months, you are probably leaning toward CF being Pompey’s job to lose. On the one hand, John Gibbons says that he is ready to hand over the starting job to the 22yr old Canadian. Then, Gibby tells us not to count out Kevin Pillar. Recently, a reader posted a comment that is worth exploring. This particular reader was not so confident that Dalton Pompey is an adequate replacement for Colby Rasmus. Let’s find out.
Here are Colby Rasmus’ numbers in his 3 full seasons with the Blue Jays.
As you can see, the power numbers are nice. If he were allowed to play the final month of the season, it is not unreasonable to think Rasmus could have hit 20-23 HR. His 2013 average is more of an outlier than his norm. His career average sits at .246. Fans grew frustrated by the ‘all or nothing’ type of game that Rasmus brought to the plate. If he wasn’t basting moon shots, he was heading back to the dugout after yet another strikeout. Well, it was really 33% of the time that he struck out, but you get the point. Overall, Rasmus was worth 0.9 WAR.
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In CF, it was not much better. Like me, fans may have been under the impression that Rasmus was a good defender. Others, not so much. Turns out, those negative Nelly’s are more correct. In 2014, Rasmus put up a UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating runs above average per 150 games) value of -15.3. His DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) was at -7 last season too. Now, in fairness, in 2013 his DRS was 11.
So, what about the heir to CF? What does Dalton Pompey bring to the table? Firstly, we have only seen him at the big league level for 17 games. This in and of itself is enough to make many nervous to hand him the starting job. There is too much room for the unknown. As well, given that he rose through the system at a meteoric rate last year, jumping from A+ to AA to AAA to MLB, many question if he is even ready for that step.
Here’s a look at his 2014 season in the minors:
It is very easy to see why the Blue Jays kept promoting him with these successful numbers. Now, it might also be easy to say that those numbers are against watered down pitching found in the minors and are not an accurate reflection of his abilities. But, we also must keep in mind that he did this at 21 years old (he’s now 22) and by the time he got to Buffalo, he was playing at nearly 6yrs younger than the competition. Yes, the competition is not as stiff as it would be in the majors, but he kept excelling every step of the way as he faced more and more challenging levels.
Just in the interest of full disclosure, here is his sample from his September call up:
It would be very easy to look at his 17 games in the big leagues and say that he is not ready. After all, the very same complaint about Rasmus (the strike outs) can be said about Pompey’s MLB stint. He struck out 12 times in 17 games. Some would call that an indication of being overmatched. His .231 average is certainly very similar to the one we complain about Rasmus having.
But, that is not the whole story. That is why I included the 162 game average with his big league numbers. If we take the mathematically flawed method of taking his 17 game production and spreading it out to 162 games, we’d get a better view of what to expect. But, even that is not accurate. Instead, we can look to his minors numbers for some more insight. There he showed more patience and control. His strikeouts were under control. He struck out just under 17% of the time. He walked just over 10% of the time. Both of these numbers represent an improvement over Rasmus.
It is worth noting (and take it for what you will) that the Steamer projection for Pompey is pretty solid. They have him hitting 6HR, 42 RBI, 46 runs, 5 triples and slashing .238/.297/.353 and a wRC+ of 104.
Pompey also brings an aspect of the game that Rasmus does not. In 2014, Pompey stole a total of 43 bases. With the departure of Anthony Gose, Pompey may be called upon to use that speed to be driven in by this potentially potent offense. Let’s assume for a second that Rasmus were in this lineup instead of Pompey. The Blue Jays would have yet another guy who would hit 20+ HR. The bombs would be dropping like crazy. But, the other additions of Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and Michael Saunders have ensured that this club does not NEED the power of Rasmus. In fact, they need a guy who can provide a more all around game. Pompey may provide that.
Defensively, Pompey had a UZR/150 value of 15.2 in CF and and overall outfield UZR/150 value of 21.3. Again, it was a very small sample size, but in the minors he put up a RF/G (Range Factor per Game- putouts & assists/ games played) of 2.22. For comparison, Colby Rasmus’ value last season was 2.72. Dalton Pompey may not be a Gold Glove CF next season, but he would certainly be a reasonable replacement for Rasmus.
Dalton Pompey brings less power, which means fewer home runs. But, he brings more patience, more speed and a potentially higher average than Colby Rasmus. The Blue Jays have positioned themselves to be able to take the loss of Rasmus’ power in favour of all the other skills Pompey brings. Any power lost will be made up in other areas. But, the one area that will probably mean the most to the Blue Jays is the area of cost.
Last season, Colby Rasmus made $7M. While he’d love to secure a long term, high paying contract, it looks more and more like he’ll have to settle for a one year ‘value rebuild’ type deal. That could cost a team more than the Blue Jays are comfortable paying. This is especially true when you consider that Dalton Pompey will make minimal money.
So, given the different offensive contributions that Dalton Pompey can potentially bring and the cost associated with that, it would appear that the Blue Jays are indeed better off without Colby Rasmus.