Brett Lawrie has 225 games of experience in Major League Baseball. He has 939 plate appearances over those 225 games and has managed to put up a wRC+ of 108, which combined with his plus fielding has led to him posting an fWAR of 5.9 thus far in his career. Brett Lawrie is still 23 years old.
Brett Lawrie has struggled to stay healthy early in his career, which can be attributed to either bad luck or his all-out way of doing everything depending on with whom you speak. These injuries have led him to struggle at times (well this is an assumption, but he has struggled as he’s come back from injuries).
Lawrie struggled so badly earlier this season that some of the more inane among us have called for his ouster from Toronto:
@Mop3ys cuz now we won’t get anything back for him if let him go. I think jays should trade arenc, lawrie, and romero for young arms.
— Sharon Stoops (@SharonRStoops) August 3, 2013
— unclebizzy4 (@unclebizzy4) July 31, 2013
Yes AA please get Kendrick. Trade Lawrie and maybe throw in some cheap prospects.
— Jason (@bluejays2012) July 31, 2013
I think the Jays should trade Brett Lawrie
— Ruffolo’Ántonio (@aRuffolo91) August 3, 2013
The ridiculousness of trading a young, talented, controllable asset at the bottom of his value aside, these Tweets illustrate just how far Lawrie had fallen in the eyes of the Blue Jays masses. From hero that was going to lead the franchise back to glory, to some bum that should be thrown to the scrap heap…But then something magical happened! Can you spot the difference below?
As @chrisjlund pointed out on Twitter, Lawrie made an adjustment in his batting stance. Whether through advice of his hitting coach or noticing something on video remains unclear, but Lawrie began to stand more upright in the batter’s box.
This new stance from Lawrie looked an awful lot like the stance he was using during his first call up with the Blue Jays. The degradation in Lawrie’s stance could have been due to injuries, or perhaps he instinctively began to lean over more as he was consistently beaten with pitches low and outside, regardless the change was identified and fixed.
Since the change in his stance, Lawrie has batted .302/.366/.587, for a 158 wRC+ (with a BABIP of .294 so it’s not all luck). While the improved line is over just an 18 game span, so we must attach a SSS disclaimer, the improved results are nonetheless encouraging. For the past 3 weeks at least, Lawrie has finally looked like the impact player that Blue Jays fans were expecting this season.
While it is probably foolish for Blue Jays fans to expect Lawrie to put up these kind of numbers over a full season (just like it was foolish to expect him to repeat his unbelievably 43 game run in 2011), some sort of happy medium between god awful Brett Lawrie and MVP caliber Brett Lawrie is a reasonable expectation.
Oh, and don’t forget that Brett Lawrie is still only 23 years old, as in 1 year younger than when J.P. Arencibia made his début, a year younger than when Colby Rasmus had his breakout year for the Cardinals, and 3 years younger than 2012 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Todd Frazier. He’s going to mature, grow, and get better. Just you wait.