In his ninth season, Colby Rasmus is set to join his fourth team, as he heads from one warm climate to another. But despite the fact he’ll be switching home parks, he’s still going to be playing in an orange juice box. On Monday, it was reported that he agreed to a one year contract with the Rays. Coming out of Houston, the knee-jerk reaction is that his fantasy potential, whatever there was left of it, is now kaput. But is that really true? Let’s bring on the park factors to find out what a move from playing half his games in Minute Maid Park (MM, Houston) to Tropicana Field (Tampa, errrr, St. Petersburg) may do to his performance.
|Team||Basic||1B as L||2B as L||3B as L||HR as L||SO||BB||GB||FB||LD||IFFB|
-I highlighted the park that is more hitter friendly in each category
-Yes, I realize these are 2015 factors, as we haven’t yet updated the Guts page for 2016 numbers
So let’s skip over the Basic park factor for now, which is essentially the overall run environment. Tropicana is exactly neutral for singles, while MM suppresses them by 4%. Boosting singles isn’t too exciting, though it does help for BABIP purposes, which directly increases batting average. And heck, Rasmus needs all the help he could get in the batting average department!
Unfortunately, the gains he might see in his singles total from the move will be somewhat wiped out by the difference in doubles and triples factors. Both parks suppress doubles, but Houston was nearly neutral, while Tampa reduces them by a more noteworthy rate. The difference is even starker for triples, as Tal’s Hill helped MM boost triples totals (and I just discovered that the Hill is expected to be no longer in 2017, with the center field fence being moved in…fewer triples and even more homers now?!), while Tropicana is a terrible park for triples.
Alas, we get to the most important category for fantasy owners — home runs. We know that Tropicana is one of the tougher parks to hit the long ball in, but I, and perhaps you too, did not realize that it’s all the right-handed hitters that take the brunt of it. Lefties have it fine, as the park plays neutral for them, whereas it suppresses righty homers by 16%. Of course, that still isn’t great news for Rasmus, because he leaves a park that boosted lefty homers by 10%. But the swing may not be as significant as you assumed.
The strikeout and walk rates, along with the batted ball types, are close enough that it’s unlikely he’ll be majorly affected in those categories by the park switch. However, the IFFB% is not close, as it represents the second largest swing of any category between the two parks. More pop-ups are obviously a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. He recently cured his pop-up issues, but he was in the double digits four years in a row from 2011-2014. And since he’s an extreme flyballer to begin with, a high pop-up rate means tons of easy outs and doom for his BABIP.
So bottom line is this — you probably weren’t expecting much from Rasmus to begin with, considering he’s coming off a sad .282 wOBA and sports a career .241 average, with not enough power to compensate. But he’s still just 30, and though the park switch is a clear negative, I feel like it’s not the ultra negative I expected it to be. Bad, yes, but not bad enough to make him undraftable in any leagues you had planned to draft him in (which was probably none, so hey, no change!).
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