Brett Lawrie. The next A-rod, or the next Hinske

Ok, well, maybe A-rod is a little extreme.  No one deserves that pressure no matter how big their “phenom” tag is.   Rodriguez may very well be the last player in a long, long time, to make a run at the homerun record (and don’t start with the steroids either, it’s an era people). Conversely, Erik Hinske may not be completely deserving of the other end of the spectrum.  Yes he went from rookie of the year to 8 year journeyman, but he also holds the distinct title of the only man to appear in three consecutive World Series’.  Winning two.  Not a bad career by any stretch of the imagination. 

So, 30 games into his career, it’s time to have a look at Brett Lawrie.  I’m not going to talk about his year in the minors, because, well, it was in Vegas, and in the Pacific Coast League, where even I could hit .330 with 25 jacks.  We will just look at his numbers from “call up” time.  After 107 at-bats, “Kid Canada’s” stat line is as follows, .318 BA/.381 SLG/1.064 OPS.  8 homers, 21 RBI’s, 7 doubles, 4 triples, and hell, let’s throw in 5 steals for fun.   Take a second and read that again.        Let’s assume 535 at bats is a regular season, it’s probably close anyway, but for the ease of math we will use that number.  So pro-rated, his line would read (slash stats stay the same), 40 HRs, 105 RBI’s, 35 doubles, 20 triples, and 20 stolen bases.  That’s ridiculous, and if pro-rated numbers were honest, hell, punch his ticket to Cooperstown now, retire his number and raise it to the rafters, because every jays record is about to crumble.  This is where everyone needs to calm down, because anyone who knows baseball, knows those numbers won’t hold up.  They can’t hold up.  If they do, then all of a sudden I don’t miss Shaun Marcum half as much as I do.  In reality though, if number 13 can even produce at a 75% clip of his current torrid pace, then I’d be emphatically impressed.  But Lawries talents reach further then his stick.  It’s been well documented that his forte is that of an offensive force, and his defense is supposed to be secondary.  Secondary to the point it may even be thirdly.  But from the sample size portion I’ve seen thus far, that could be the worst scouting report ever had.  Just this weekend, I saw him involved in 2 separate double plays, one starting, and one finishing, via the run down, that could easily make sports centers  DP’s of the year (hee hee).  I’ve also seen him bound to the left and the right to rob base hits with diving stops, and when fielding, he takes his time and fires strikes to first base with an arm that more resembles a canon, then an appendage.    

But what I saw on Sunday may be the best measure of his hopefully soon to be grown into talent.  Two separate plays showed what this kid is made off.  First, in the middle innings of a no run ball game, a line drive one hopper was rocketed at our hero.  And as sometimes is done, especially by rookies, it was slightly misplayed.  Not booted by any means, but mishopped, and flipped in the air in front of him.  But Lawrie didn’t kick dirt, grimace, or slap his glove.  In what seemed like a single motion, he snagged the flipped ball out of the air, as if it was by design, and launched a rocket to Eddie at first to still get the runner by a step.   Composer.  Pride.  Most importantly, respect for the game.  The seemingly unheard of hybrid of extreme talent, and the ability to play the game the right way.  Sort of like a John Macdonald, with all the tools Johnny Mac didn’t get blessed with.  This kid has heart.   This brings us to the second play I witnessed.  In the ninth, Lawrie came up to the plate, and Allan Ashby commented that just about the only thing he hasn’t don’t yet, is get a walk off.  Well, maybe ol’ Ash jinxed it that at bat, because Lawrie struck out.  But don’t fret.  Our protagonist had his chance to add to the resume in the 11th.  And with two outs, and Dan Wheeler looking to extend the game, Lawrie hit a Delgado, rookie season era, type blast off the formerly known as Windows Restaurant windows.  It was hit so hard, that the Red Sox infielders were in the dugout before the ball even landed.  First walk off homer in the books.  Heart. Respect for the game.  And viscous, viscous numbers thus far.  The next year or 5 will certainly be something to see, especially if he keeps this up.  It will be exciting, it will be action packed, and most importantly, it will be winning baseball.  Yes one player can make that much of a difference, if used properly, and built around the way he should be.  I highly doubt Brett will be the next A-rod.  I’m almost certain he won’t be the next Hinkse.  But if, like I said, stats at 75% and playing the game the right way, like he has shown as the only way he knows how, the question in a few years may very well be, “who will be the next Brett Lawrie???