Rasmus a sleeper in 2010

Colby Rasmus came up to the big club last season with a lot of fanfare.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Second-year St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus could be in for a breakout year in 2010 and after a disappointing rookie year should be a bargain on Draft Day.

Rasmus was a No.1 selection (28th overall) of the Cardinals back in 2005 and came up to the big club last season with a lot of fanfare. He along with Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel were supposed to give two-time NL MVP Albert Pujols the support he needed to make the Cardinals offense a powerhouse.

It didn't turn out that way as the St. Louis offense was pretty much "all Albert all the time" and the team won more because of great starting pitching, than a great offensive lineup.

That doesn't mean it has to be the same in 2010.

First off, the team added Matt Holliday at the trade deadline and he was solid over the second half of the season. They also brought in third baseman Mark DeRosa who didn't perform up to his normal standards.

But mostly it's because the young guys like Rasmus and Ludwick will be a year older and wiser. That's important when dealing with Manager Tony LaRussa's "unusual" managerial style (a.k.a. changing the lineup on an almost daily basis).

Rasmus played in 147 games, but started only 114. Part of the problem was his own making, however, because he had trouble hitting lefties. He batted just .160 against southpaws with three homers and 10 RBI in 106 at-bats. He will have to improve those numbers if he is to become a valuable and reliable fantasy player.

Rasmus was a highly regarded rookie out of the Cardinals farm system and was just finding his way when he was slowed in the second half of the season by a heel injury, so his numbers look pedestrian (474 AB, 72 runs, 16 HR, 52 RBI, AVE .251, OPS .714).

There is good news. Rasmus has the enviable position of batting in front of Pujols and he produced very well there last year. Batting with Pujols in the on deck circle, Rasmus hit .284 with eight homers and 28 RBIs while scoring 54 of his 72 runs.

With an expected lineup of Skip Schumaker, Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday and Ludwick as the top six, the Cardinals should be able to generate more runs than in 2009 when they finished 18th overall (seventh in the NL) with 730 runs.

I expect a much better performance in Rasmus' second season - 550 AB, 90 runs, 25 HR, 70 RBI, AVE .265, OPS .760. That would be very good production from a player with a current ADP (Average Draft Position) of 191, meaning he is being selected in the 16th round.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.