Colby Rasmus has decided to simply let his bat do the talking while Cardinals Nation divides itself into “Team Colby” and “Team TLR” over his well-publicized beef with manager Tony La Russa.
Rasmus went 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and four RBIs in a blowout win over the Braves last night and is now 11-for-24 (.458) with five extra-base hits in eight games this month.
It’s tough to imagine even La Russa benching someone playing that well while the Cardinals cling to their playoff lives, but then again it’s tough to imagine anyone benching a 23-year-old center fielder hitting .276/.360/.514 on the season and TLR has managed to do that plenty.
La Russa has been managing in the majors since 1979. During that time, here’s a list of the best adjusted OPS+ totals posted by 23-year-old center fielders:
Ken Griffey Jr. 1993 171
Lloyd Moseby 1983 134
COLBY RASMUS 2010 133
Grady Sizemore 2006 133
Ellis Burks 1988 131
Andruw Jones 2000 125
Andrew McCutchen 2009 112
In other words, during La Russa’s three-plus decades as a manager the only center fielder to clearly out-hit Rasmus at age 23 is Ken Griffey Jr.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.