Colby Ryan Rasmus
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 175 lb.
- High School Russell County High School
- Debut April 7, 2009
Outfielder Colby Rasmus is a power-hitting outfielder who is strikeout prone, recording well over 100 in each of his full major league seasons. He was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft.
Rasmus was signed by scout Scott Nichols and made his pro debut that year with the Johnson City Cardinals, hitting .296 with 7 home runs, 27 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 62 games. He began the 2006 campaign with the Swing of the Quad Cities, where he hit .310 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs and swiped 17 bases. He was then promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals, with whom he hit .254 with 5 home runs, 35 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases. Rasmus went 0 for 2 as the backup CF to Justin Upton for the USA in the 2007 Futures Game.
Rasmus was with Team USA for the 2007 Baseball World Cup. He hit .382/.500/.706 to lead the team in OPS, beating out tourney MVP Jayson Nix. Rasmus made the tourney All-Star outfield alongside Frederich Cepeda and Trent Oeltjen; he was one of two players from the US to make the All-Star cut. He hit a leadoff homer against David Bergman in the US's 5-0 semifinal win over the Dutch national team and hit a 3-run inside-the-park homer against Spain. The US won the Gold Medal, the first time it had done so in a Baseball World Cup in over 30 years.
Colby Rasmus made the Cardinals' roster in spring training 2009. In his major league debut on April 7th, he went 2 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played 147 games as a rookie, with a batting line of .251/.307/.407, with 22 doubles and 16 homers. He went 4 for 9 with three doubles in the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He followed up his solid rookie year by taking another step forward in 2010, when he hit .276/.361/.498 in 144 games. He hit 28 doubles, 23 homers and drove in 66 runs as the Cards' center fielder. However, he failed to build on this early success in 2011, as he fell back to .246 in 94 games and had some run-ins with manager Tony LaRussa. On July 27th, the Cardinals traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays as the key player in an 8-player deal that brought P Edwin Jackson to St. Louis. He had a rough start to his Blue Jay carrer, starting off 0 for 13, before banging out a pair of doubles off the Texas Rangers' C.J. Wilson on July 31st. He played 35 games in Toronto but hit only .173, finishing the season with a combined batting average of .225.
Given a chance to be the Blue Jays' everyday centerfielder in 2012, Rasmus struggled again, ending up with a batting average of .223 in 151 games. He did provide good defense, however, as well as decent power: 21 doubles and 23 homers, in addition to 75 runs scored and as many RBIs. He bounced back with a solid season in 2013 however, but it came when the Blue Jays had expected to compete but instead crashed into the basement of the AL East. Colby hit .276/.338/.501, for an OPS+ of 127, and banged 26 doubles and 22 homers. The lack of production from others in the team's line-up meant that his runs scored and RBIs both fell significantly, to 57 and 66. The Jays bounced back in 2014, holding first place for a good chunk of the first half before being distanced by the Baltimore Orioles, but Rasmus saw his production fall back to that of a good but not outstanding player. His OPS+ was 104, as his batting average plunged back to .225, tied for lowest in a season for him. He continued to produce some extra-base power, though, with 21 doubles and 18 homers. Offensive production was down throughout the major leagues that season, so his numbers were actually better than they looked, as attested by his OPS+. However, the Blue Jays were clearly disappointed with his level of production over three plus seasons with the team, and his failure to develop into an All-Star type player, and they did not pursue him vigorously when he became a free agent after the season.
On January 20, 2015, he signed a one-year deal with the Houston Astros for $8 million. He had a typical season by his standards, hitting .238 with 23 doubles and 25 homers, driving in 61 runs wehile scoring 67 and striking out 154 times, a career high. The Astros had a remarkable turnaround that season, leading the AL West division for most of the year before settling for a wild card slot. He hit a home run in the Wild Card Games as the Astros shut out the New York Yankees in the Big Apple, then hit three more while driving in five runs as Houston lost to the Kansas City Royals in the Division Series. He became a free agent again after the season, but became the first player to accept a qualifying offer from his team, three years after the system was first implemented. No other player had accepted such a one-year deal before, and many had been burned as a result. The risk was that by turning down such an offer, any team signing the player would lose a top draft pick, making such players much less attractive, and forcing a number of them to sit around unsigned until after the amateur draft. In 2016, he played 106 games for Houston, hitting just .206 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs.
The Astros did not make any particular effort to retain Rasmus after his disappointing 2016 season and he signed a one-year free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Rays for 2017. With the Rays playing better than expected, Rasmus ended not getting much playing time, with only 37 games during the first half, during which he hit quite well, however: .281 with 9 homers and 23 RBIs. He had undergone surgery on his hip before the season and had to miss time when he experienced discomfort stemming from the procedure. On July 13th, however, he made a surprise announcement, indicating he was "stepping away" from baseball for the time being to address unspecified issues. The Rays made it clear that they did not expect him back this year and would give the time he needed to deal with these issues, thanking him for his contribution to the team's early success. They placed him on the restricted list and no further explanation was offered for his decision.
On February 21, 2018, Rasmus signed a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles, having apparently overcome whatever problems had cut his previous season short. He started the year with the O's and hit just .095 over his first 8 games. He was then waylaid by a hip flexor strain, was placed on the 60-day DL and did not return until June 21st. On July 3rd, he informed the team that he was taking another leave of absence and was placed again on the restricted list. While the hip problem was still an issue, there were also private matters in play, which explain why he did not simply return to the DL.
Rasmus is the brother of pitchers Cory Rasmus and Casey Rasmus, and the son of minor leaguer Tony Rasmus. Cory and Colby had played together for years while growing up, but had never faced each other as professionals until shortly after Cory's major league debut with the Atlanta Braves. On May 27, 2013, the Braves visited Toronto for a series of interleague games and Colby got the best of their first match-up, doubling off his brother in the 7th inning of a 9-3 Blue Jays win.
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2010, 2012, 2013 & 2015)