Friday, November 29, 2013

Exit Music (For A Player): Robbie Grossman

We're taking a look at the Astros who are still on the 40-Man Roster as part of our off-season Exit Music (For A Player) recap of 2013. Read the archive here. Today we take on Robbie Grossman.

Acquired: Acquired from Pittsburgh on July 24, 2012 with Colton Cain for Wandy Rodriguez

63 games played, 288 PAs, .268/.332/.370, 95 OPS+
Baseball-Reference WAR: 0.3
FanGraphs WAR: -0.1
Walk Percentage: 8.0%
Strikeout Percentage: 24.3%
2013 Salary: $minimum

Cy-Fair native Bob Robbie Grossman was a tale of two stints with the Astros in 2013. The worst of times was his April/May stint, when he got called up after Justin Maxwell went on the DL. He went 2x5 with two doubles in his ML debut on April 24, and then it took him six games at 28 PAs to get his next two hits. By the time he got sent down at the end of May, he was hitting .198/.310/.243, having recorded three extra-base hits in 126 PAs. 

The best of times was when he came back, on July 28, after J.D. Martinez went on the DL. From July 28 to the end of his season on September 3 when he suffered an oblique injury, Grossman hit .322/.351/.466 with 13 extra-base hits (nine doubles / four homers) with a ridiculous .413 BABIP. 

High-Water Mark:
April 24 vs. Seattle. After grounding out to short in his first Major-League AB, Grossman hit two consecutive doubles in a 10-3 win over Seattle. 

What Went Well:
*Obviously his second stint with Houston. For a team that, collectively, hit .253/.313/.402 from July 28-September 3, Grossman (again) hit .322/.351/.466. Houston needs to maybe take a look at what they're doing in OKC to help players make adjustments. Is his 2nd Half OPS helped by the fact that he had six hits in his first 12 PAs back? Sure. But we're looking for positives here.
*When Grossman was ahead in the count, he hit .278/.437/.443, for an .880 OPS.
*Grossman had a .672 OPS with 0 outs and a .647 OPS with 1 out. But in 78 PAs with two outs, Grossman hit .275/.359/.449. And since Grossman is - for now - a walking small sample size, we might as well point out that with RISP, he hit .320/.375/.560; and with 2 outs and RISP (20 PAs), he hit .353/.450/.706.

What Didn't:
*Obviously that first stint with Houston. Not only did he have a .553 OPS when he was sent back to OKC, but he had 31 strikeouts in 131 PAs with a Run Expectancy of -6.33.
*Hitting with the pitcher ahead in the count, Grossman had a brutal .169/.178/.213. He hit four homers in 2013, but the only one he hit when the pitcher was ahead in the count was on August 7, when he knocked a 1-2 Dempster pitch to right-center to tie the game at 2-2 (the only homer he hit with Houston behind in the game, too).
*The strikeouts. Grossman struck out in 24.3% of his PAs for the season. Now, he's always done this. He struck out 26.9% of the time in 36 games in Corpus in 2012; 21.3% of his PAs in 70 games in OKC in 2013. With the PIrates, he hovered in the 14-18% range, with a career low 14.3% K-rate in the 2011 Arizona Fall League. He struck out in 28.8% of his PAs vs. righties, and 11.8% of his PAs vs. lefties.

Did You Know?
*Playing for Bradenton, the Pirates' High-A affiliate in the Florida State League, Grossman became the first minor-league player to walk 100+ times and score 100+ runs since Nick Swisher did it in 2004.
*A 3-year old Robbie Grossman told his parents that all he wanted was to be a Houston Astro.

2014 contract: Pre-Arbitration, will be Arbitration-eligible in 2017.
2014 outlook: The first-half/second-half splits are so disparate that it's hard to project which is the real Robbie Grossman. Likely he's somewhere in between. His 1st-half BABIP was .275, considerably lower than any BABIP he had posted at any point in his minor-league career. His 2nd-half BABIP was .413 - 4th-highest among any player who had more than 100 PAs in the second half of the season (2nd was Jason Castro's .420 2nd-half BABIP). So, given his platoon splits, is he 4th OF-type? Does he spend more time in OKC given the Astros' interest in an outfield bat and the impending promotion of George Springer? It's hard to say, but he did leave a nice impression before the oblique injury ended his season.