A look at Colby Rasmus and the ISO power stat

If the Orioles do sign outfielder Colby Rasmus, in one sense, maybe he fits right in. He is a player that can deliver home runs while also striking out a lot.

The O’s have some players that do that.

But one stat I read about Rasmus was rather surprising and it is how he fared last year in Isolated Power.

colby rasmus jays.jpgIn a writeup about Rasmus and his free agent outlook for this winter, MLBTradeRumors.com’s profile included this excerpt:

Despite seeing only 376 plate appearances in 2014, Rasmus managed to swat 18 longballs and post an excellent .223 ISO (slightly better than players like Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Miguel Cabrera).

Wait, better than Upton, Kemp and Cabrera? Yep, but of course he had fewer plate appearances. Still it is one impressive stat for Rasmus, who also hit just .225 last year with a .287 OBP and a staggering 124 strikeouts. His 2014 strikeout rate was 33 percent, identical to Chris Davis’ rate from last season.

By the way, FanGraphs defines Isolated Power this way:

Isolated Power (ISO) is a measure of a hitter’s raw power and tells you how often a player hits for extra bases. We know that not all hits are created equally and ISO provides you with a quick tool for determining the degree to which a given hitter provides extra base hits as opposed to singles. While batting average and slugging percentage each offer part of the answer, they aren’t very good at distinguishing players without being considered together, even if you know a player’s walk rate as well.

Using ISO is very simple. It tells you the number of extra bases the player averages per at bat and signals to you the degree to which a particular hitter is a power hitter. Around .140 is league average and hitters in the .200+ range are typically the premier sluggers.

Were Rasmus an Oriole last year, here is where he would have ranked on the club in ISO:

.263 - Steve Pearce
.254 - Nelson Cruz
.223 - Colby Rasmus
.209 - Chris Davis
.188 - Adam Jones

If the O’s do sign the 28-year-old Rasmus, maybe the 2005 first-round pick would make up half of a right field platoon with Pearce. Rasmus has a career .465 slugging and .788 OPS against right-handed pitching while Pearce has a .515 slugging percentage and .878 OPS against lefties.

It would not be a stretch to think the duo could combine for 30-plus homers from right field.

By the way, that obviously would not limit Pearce to platoon at-bats and he clearly could also start against right-handers, just not in right field under this plan.

This might be one way to offset some of the homers lost when Cruz exited and provide more than the Orioles have been getting from that spot with Nick Markakis.

None of this addresses any clubhouse concerns the Orioles may have with Rasmus and the player will have to convince manager Buck Showalter that he can fit in.

But the power potential is there and if Rasmus were signed to a one-year deal, the Orioles would be adding another homer-capable bat to the flock.

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