Late in July 2011, prior to that season’s trade deadline, there were cheers across Cardinal Nation when General Manager John Mozeliak traded beleaguered CF Colby Rasmus, the franchise’s 2005 first round draft pick (#28 overall), to the Blue Jays in a three-team swap also involving the White Sox that netted Octavio Dotel, Mark Rzepczynski, Edwin Jackson, and Corey Patterson for St. Louis. Patterson was a dud as a fill-in for Rasmus, who never lived up to the high expectations of a former #1 prospect, but all three pitchers played important roles in the Cardinals’ run to World Series glory. I remember joking at the time that I hoped other players would vote Rasmus a full playoff share of the champions’ earnings for his “addition by subtraction” contribution to the 2011 team. Incidentally, while he never has managed to figure out how to hit consistently in the regular season–he’s a career .245 hitter with fairly high strikeout numbers and around twenty home runs each year–he just might be in the process of making a postseason name for himself.
The Cardinals’ 2009 run ranks pretty low on fans’ lists of recent memories from October–notably, trade deadline-acquisition Matt Holliday’s fumble in left field that put a Dodger in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the ninth, rather than an out away from a 2-1 victory. Lost in that painfully short run, which had followed two disappointing campaigns in 2007 and 2008, was Colby Rasmus’ performance in the three-game series. He had three doubles in nine at-bats, and had driven in what would have been the game-winning RBI in that ill-fated Game 2. Overall, he hit .444 while his teammates combined to hit .245. Two years later, he was ushered unceremoniously out of St. Louis, having failed time and again to live up to the team’s lofty expectations.
By 2015, Rasmus landed in Houston. The Astros, expected by many experts to succeed a few years down the road, exceeded expectations from April through August and recovered from a mostly-horrific September over the final week to sneak into the playoffs as the American League’s second Wild Card. They traveled to Yankee Stadium for the winner-takes-all Wild Card game and shut down the Yankees, 3-0. Now three games in to their ALDS series with the Kansas City Royals, which Houston currently leads 2-1, Rasmus is playing exceptionally well once more. His home run to lead off the 2nd in New York proved to be the game-winner, and he is presently 4/7 with one double, two home runs, four RBI, and an astoundingly-patient five walks. Added together, in the seven games of his postseason career, he is 9/19 with seven extra-base hits (four doubles and three home runs), 6 RBI, and eight walks against only three strikeouts. That’s pretty damn solid.
As an extra jab for my fellow Cardinals fans out there: since 2012, his first full season away from St. Louis, Rasmus has played in four postseason games (and counting), and is 5/10 with three home runs and five RBI. Albert Pujols, who famously decreed as far back as 2009 he only cared about winning, over the same time frame, has only played in the 2014 ALDS, a three game sweep for the Angels at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, going 2/12 with one home run and two RBI against the eventual AL Champions. And, more importantly, Colby is closer to moving on toward the LCS and, ultimately, the World Series than Albert has been since leaving St. Louis.
Update, 10/15/2015: Soooo… Rasmus went 0/3 with 3 strikeouts; the Royals won 7-2, but with Johnny Cueto pitching the way he was, it’s not as though he alone prevented the ‘Stros from winning. True, striking out is about the worst way to go down, but it’s not as though he had runners on in front of him (led off the 2nd, came up with 0 on and 1 out in the 4th and 7th) all day long. Combined with a 2/4 performance with 1 HR in Game 4, Rasmus is still 11/26 in his postseason career with 5 HRs.