Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Exit Music (For A Player): Jake Marisnick

This is the Exit Music (For A Player) series, reviewing the major components of the 2015 season. Check out other Exit Music (For A Player) posts here

Acquired: Acquired via trade with Miami along with Colin Moran, Francis Martes, and the comp pick that resulted in Daz Cameron for Austin Wates, Enrique Hernandez, and Jarred Cosart - July 31, 2014.

Age: 24 - will be 25 in March

Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible following 2017 season; won't be a free agent until after 2020 season.

Career: After his selection by the Blue Jays in the 3rd Round of the 2009 draft out of Riverside Poly (CA) HS as the compensation pick from the Yankees for signing A.J. Burnett, Marisnick has spent the last few years as a highly-touted outfield prospect. He broke out for the Midwest League's Lansing in 2011 - his second professional season - by hitting .320/.392/.496 in 118 games with 27 doubles, 14 homers, 91K:43BB. This got him on all three prospect sites' Top Prospect boards, with BP ranking him #28, MLB.com ranking him #58, and BA slotting him in at #67.

His stock took a little bit of a tumble at Double-A New Hampshire in 2012, when he hit .233/.286/.336 in 55 games - but at Age 21, where he was almost three and a half years younger than his Eastern League competition.

Following the 2012 season, Marisnick was part of the blockbuster 12-player trade that send a bunch of prospects to the Marlins in return for Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Josh Johnson. Remember the Marlins are a fraudulent organization and nobody should ever forget that.

Marisnick recaptured his swing for Jacksonville, hitting .294/.358/.502 and earning a call-up straight from Double-A along with outfielder Christian Yelich. It, uh, it didn't go well. Marisnick got 118 PAs, hitting .183/.231/.248 and opened the 2014 season at Triple-A New Orleans.

He hit .277/.326/.434 in the Pacific Coast League, and had played 14 games for the Marlins in 2014 before getting traded to the Astros along with Francis Martes, Colin Moran, and the compensation pick that turned into Daz Cameron in exchange for Jarred Cosart, Austin Wates, and Enrique Hernandez.

Now a part of the Astros' everyday lineup - something he didn't really get in Miami - Marisnick...did alright. He hit .272/.299/.370 on a highly-inflated .352 BABIP. He couldn't buy a walk - striking out 48 times to five walks in 186 Plate Appearances, but he ended the season on something that resembled a tear: .280/.300/.427 on a .396 BABIP, but with 27K:3BB in 82 PAs.

2015:

Even with the addition of Colby Rasmus last off-season, Marisnick saw regular playing time in center field to open the season, and man, was he killing the ball. He ended April hitting .379/.422/.621 on a very unsustainable .426 BABIP, peaking on May 3 at a 1.016 OPS. Nine of his 26 hits went for extra bases, and he even limited the strikeouts (some) to 10K in his first 65 PAs. For Marisnick, though, regression would be a stone-cold bitch.

From May 4 to August 12 (194 very arbitrary PAs), Marisnick hit .165/.194/.247 on a .241 BABIP, with 66K:6BB. His drop-off was so severe that we wrote when the Astros traded for Carlos Gomez that Gomez was an average center fielder, and that very fact meant that he would be an upgrade over Marisnick.

Marisnick finished strong to end the season - an .801 OPS on a .348 BABIP from August 25 to the end of the season, but that long string of inconsistency is one of the reasons the Astros just may be looking for another outfielder.

What keeps getting Marisnick out? It's pretty simple - he has trouble with a four-seam fastball. In 2015 he was thrown 555 four-seam fastballs, and had a .177 batting average off of those pitches. FanGraphs pegs his value against a fastball at -11.5. To put that in context, 95 outfielders racked up at least 350 PAs in 2015, and Marisnick's -11.5 is ranked 91st, ahead of Angel Pagan, Ichiro, and Billy Hamilton.

So he's an offensive liability - or at least falls under the umbrella of "When he's bad, he's rreeeealllll bad." That's not all there is to it, of course. Defensive ratings are what they are, but Marisnick had the 11th highest defensive rating of the same 95 outfielders from the previous paragraph. And he did steal 24 bases...though he was thrown out nine times - 3rd-highest in the AL.

I (and, maybe, the Astros) put up with this, or at least aren't screaming ourselves hoarse, because Marisnick will be entering his Age 25 season with 727 career plate appearances in the Majors. Last year was really only his first actual shot at a full season of playing time.

Challengers:

With the 2016 outfield set at Rasmus, Gomez, Springer (LF to RF), any challenger to Marisnick will be challenging for a 4th OF spot. Let's also keep in mind that Rasmus and Gomez are under contract for 2016 only - Rasmus because of accepting the qualifying offer, Gomez because of his contract with the Brewers. And it's not as though Gomez and Springer have shown to be bastions of health. The Astros could go in a few directions here:

*Marisnick has been made available in "the right deal" this offseason. So the Astros can see if he gets off to a hot start and trade him for the pitching that has been depleted through trades in the last year.
*Let Marisnick be the 4th OF/defensive replacement until he may be needed in 2017...when he will be in his Age 26 season.
*Absolutely nothing. See what happens.

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