On Brett Lawrie’s Slow Start, Comparables & Potential

With Brett Lawrie currently in the news for all the wrong reasons I thought it would be a good time to check in on his progress thus far as a major league ballplayer.  Expectations were massive coming into his first full season with the Blue Jays with some people projecting a .300 hitter with 30+ homeruns. 

Well we are not even 40 games into the major league season but needless to say Lawrie has been a bit of a disappointment with the stick so far.  In 38 games and 157 PAs Lawrie has slashed 281/325/384 with 3 homeruns and 6 stolen bases.

Not awful by any means but raise your hand if you expected better than a .313 wOBA and a .103 ISO.

 That has been the missing ingredient thus far for Brett, power.  Nobody realistically thought he could match his 2011 AAA/MLB (.308/.287 ISO) power output for an entire major league season but his mediocre .384 slugging percentage is a bit surprising.

Never known as a patient hitter hLawrie has seen his walk rate plummet from 9.4% in 2011 to only 4.5% in 2012 – a number that concerns me greatly.  There are a handful of batters who are super productive with that type of patience and Josh Hamilton’s don’t grow on trees.

Lawrie is also hitting a shit ton more worm burners this season (58% GB rate in 2012, only 38% in 2011) and his fly ball rate has expectedly dropped as well (24% FB rate in 2012, 44% in 2011).  His HR/FB is down also (10% in 2012, 17% in 2011).

He is chasing more balls thrown outside the strike zone (28% O-Swing in 2012, 22% in 2011) though he is making more contact overall this season.

Looking at his career stats he is officially at 81 games, a halfway point for a major league season.  Let’s have a look at his career numbers thus far to get a bigger sample size. 

B.Lawrie 328 287 350 483 12 7.0 18.0 .365 .196

 Double his counting stats and Brett Lawrie would finish 162 games with 656 PAs, 170 hits, 24 doubles, 10 triples, 24 home runs, 84 RBIs, 46 BB – 118 Ks and 26 stolen bases – and 8.4 WAR.

Obviously his stats are still weighted towards one of the hottest starts in major league history from 2011 and his current 2012 paces are much worse but projecting anyone as an 8+ win player is ridiculously impressive nonetheless.

UZR absolutely loves Brett Lawrie at third base, a sentence many people would have had a hard time believing given the lacklustre defensive scouting reports he received as a prospect.  For his career Lawrie’s UZR/150 is an out of this world 21.2!  UZR feels he is the best third basemen in the game defensively this season, by a wide margin.

The David Wright comparison gets thrown around a lot and I think they possess similar game changing skills and energy but Wright has also shown he is one of the most patient batters (11.3 BB%) in baseball even early in his career.

After searching around for similar statistics and overall profiles a hitter that closely resembled Brett Lawrie was Aramis Ramirez.  Ramirez is a 283/341/497 career hitter with a .357 wOBA, .214 ISO, 7.2 BB% and 13.8 K%.

Another fairly close resemblance would belong to Hanley Ramirez who has a career 303/377/503 slash line with a .382 wOBA, .200 ISO, 9.8 BB% and 16.3 K%.  Hanley was (and is) also very lively, athletic and can kill you with his speed like Lawrie can. 

If I was going to give my best comp for Brett Lawrie it would probably be between Aramis and Hanley Ramirez.  Now neither of those players can hold a candle to Lawrie defensively and we still don’t have enough data to know where Lawrie’s walk rate will fall but there are worse guys to be compared to.

You should never get excited for a crazy hot start or get too worried about a slow start.  Brett Lawrie is oozing with major league talent and the Blue Jays will enjoy his production for years to come.  If he continues to impress this much defensively the production required from his bat to remain an elite third basemen will be that much less.

If his bat continues to develop as expected we could be looking at a true superstar.

Are you guys still excited about his potential?


1 Response to “On Brett Lawrie’s Slow Start, Comparables & Potential”

  1. 1 Brett Lawrie – Blue Jays New Second Basemen? | AL Eastbound & Down Trackback on April 14, 2013 at 2:04 pm

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