This is a subject that is very close to my heart.
When the Toronto Blue Jays traded Troy Glaus for Scott Rolen, I had to be talked down off the ledge of the .500 level.
Troy Glaus was my favourite player. He was just a guy you would watch step to the plate with a mouthful of Skoal and take hacks that could turn baseballs to dust—and who would give me cause to learn lip reading when he would pop out.
I loved it. Losing Glaus meant losing the best part of the Jays for me, I thought we'd rue the day.
Well, I was wrong.
Scott Rolen is quietly putting together a season worthy of admiration from Toronto fans. Glaus is currently on the DL and my pain is starting to fade.
Rolen has always been a great player. He was Rookie of the Year in 1997, and has seven Gold Gloves.
One of my favourite books is Buzz Bissinger's Three Nights in August, which profiles a three-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs in 2003. Rolen was playing for the Cardinals at the time, and was profiled as a hard-working, tough, blue collar player that produced like a superstar. Upon reading that I thought, "Yeah, this is a guy I'd want on my team." Clearly, Mr. Bissinger could see the future.
Rolen is hitting .327 (good for third in the AL) with four homeruns and 23 RBI's. He is also riding a seven-game hit streak as the Jays have played some tough interleague games.
Although we'd all like to see some more power from Rolen, you can't complain about the consistently great way he's played for Toronto. When Rolen gets a hit the Blue Jays are 24-19. When he hits a home run, they're 4-0.
What's caught my eye is the way Rolen battles at every plate appearance. You rarely see him go down without a fight. He fouls off a ton of pitches and makes pitchers get him out, not the other way around.
According to baseball-reference.com, only eight percent of Rolen's total strikes have been misses, compared to an MLB average of 15 percent. Thirty-one percent of all his strikes have been foul balls, while the rest of the league sits at 27 percent. The man's a grinder.
Rolen has only hit into a single double play and has a solid .394 on-base percentage. He just doesn't do things that hurt a baseball team.
He's also been an integral part of a sterling Blue Jays defense that is among the best in the league.
With play like that, I've decided to forgive him for taking Troy Glaus away from Toronto. I guess it wasn't his fault.
If I can do that, than fans can take notice of a Jay who is quietly becoming the most reliable guy on the field.
Or at least to find the strength to take the Troy Glaus figurine off their mantle and move on.
Maybe that's just me.