Jayson Stark of ESPN grabbed my attention this morning when he posted this chart showing how Toronto Blue Jays’ phenom Brett Lawrie, stacked up against some of the all time greats with his .953 OPS last season.
That’s some pretty amazing company and at 22 years old, Brett Lawrie is ready to explode onto the scene as one of the game’s brightest stars and best offensive players.
Since 1900, only a dozen other players have had an OPS that high at age 21 or younger according to Stark.
Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez, a man who has seen many a ballyhooed young player hit the radar screen in his 45 years in professional baseball, had this to say:
“He’s got more ability than George Brett, and I was George’s roommate in Kansas City,” Martinez said. “Now obviously, he doesn’t have 3,000 hits or [three] batting titles or an MVP award, so he’s got a long ways to go. But he runs and he plays with the same kind of intensity as George did. And that’s as high a compliment as I could pay any player.”
Lawrie is a classic five-tool phenom that was originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 16th overall pick in the 2008 Amateur Draft, two spots before the Mets selected Ike Davis. He didn’t stick around too long though, and the Brew Crew ended up trading him to the Blue Jays for starting pitcher Shaun Marcum.
Last season, Lawrie was a beast at Triple-A Las Vegas where in 69 games he batted .353/.415/.661 with 24 doubles, 6 triples, 18 home runs and 61 RBIs in 292 at-bats. (Put your tongues back in your mouths.)
When he finally got the call to the majors, Lawrie just kept on hitting and posted a .293/.373/.580 slash with nine homers and 25 RBI in 150 at-bats.
This kid has plenty of speed too and including his seven steals in the majors last season, he swiped 20 bases in 23 attempts overall.
He plays a solid third base, but can handle himself just as well at second which was his primary position in the minors. Said one scout about Lawrie,
“He’s going to be a great offensive force, and defensively, I don’t know what quality you’d want in a third baseman that he doesn’t have.”
In this video, watch Lawrie blast a towering shot against the Red Sox last September. As you could see from his reaction at the plate, he knew it was gone, but his bat flip was classic Ken Griffey Jr.. This kid’s got all the moves.