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Has Colby Rasmus turned the corner?

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

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Blue Jay Way (USP)

We've seen so many twists and turns in the Colby Rasmus career, it almost feels like a Behind the Music episode. It's also a little hard to believe he's still just 25.

Close your eyes and you can imagine the watchwords and key phrases, filling the screen and sending us to break: Hot prospect . . . LaRussa . . . Jewelry . . . First Round . . . Overbearing dad . . . Five tools . . . Deadline Trade . . . YYZ.

Let's try to get both feet on the ground as we check in on Rasmus today. He's currently in the midst of a strong June, hitting .313 with 11 runs, four homers and 12 RBIs (and that came on the heels of a hot finish in May). His numbers have taken off since being switched to the No. 2 slot in the order (1.096 OPS, seven homers in 16 games). He's been added about 5,000 times in Yahoo! leagues over the past day and a half, chasing his ownership tag up to 47 percent.

While Rasmus certainly has time to grow into a star, or at least a solid fantasy commodity, I'm not fully buying in yet. If I owned him in a mono league or a deeper mixed group, I'd be looking to sell the hot stretch. There are stats under the hood that concern me. We might look back on his season and identify mid-June as the high-water mark.

The lefty swinger has just one walk over his last 19 games, and he's on a pace to strike out 125 times. Colby's .373 OBP in the No. 2 slot is almost entirely built on his batting average (.356). While a zippy line-drive rate for June (22.6 percent) and an increase in contact go a long way towards validating Rasmus's recent burst, red flags go up when you see that K/BB ratio.

Rasmus is still trying to figure out lefties as well. He carries an anemic .200/.264/.572 slash against them this year, and for his career it's much of the same: .214/.291/.353. If he's going to develop into a star, he has to improve this part of the game or at least obliterate righties to the point that no one cares about the platoon gap. An .853 OPS against RHPs this year is good, but it's not star level.

Rasmus really hasn't figured out the base paths, either: he's a modest 3-for-4 on steals this year, 23-for-35 for his career. You'd like to think the raw athleticism would turn him into a 20-25 steal man, but it's not an active part of his game right now. While a lot of AL East teams don't bother running much (looking at you, New York, Baltimore and Boston), the Blue Jays are a fairly aggressive club (47 steals in 65 attempts). Tampa Bay's in a similar vein (49-for-69).

If you want to add Rasmus for depth in a shallow mixer, I'll sign off. If you want to enjoy this hot stretch for a little while before you think about your next move, that's fine too. But I bet in some leagues you might be able to find someone to slightly overplay the post-hype sleeper card, perhaps start thinking Rasmus's 2012 campaign is basically Alex Gordon 2011. One size never fits all with fantasy advice, but here's the bottom line: you might be able to sell high. Or perhaps you can trade Rasmus for a juicy price in a keeper league, getting someone to overreact to where this story seems to be headed.

Just for fun on the way out, let's have a look at the Baseball-Reference stat comparisons for Rasmus, judging him entering 2012. It's a motley crew. This sure looks like a career that could go either way. Here's the group: Oddibe McDowell, Jimmy Wynn, Roger Maris, Bobby Murcer, Willie Montanez, Chris Young, Corey Patterson, Ruppert (Ruppert) Jones, Jeremy Hermida and Chili Davis. Which comp makes the most sense to you?

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