It’s not fair to judge a person by his appearance, but Brett Lawrie, to me, has always looked like the stereotypical jock – the sort who likes to poke fun at nerdy people. He might very well be a thoroughly decent human being – I’ve never met him – but my inner geek is grateful that I am not his age and did not attend junior high school with him.
Watching Lawrie play, I sometimes get the impression that his temperament isn’t a perfect match for many aspects of the game of professional baseball. To play baseball well, you need a certain amount of patience, and you need to remain aware that it is a long season, so you have to dial it back a little bit. Lawrie’s tendency to go all-out at all times has almost certainly led to injury, and may have caused him to have difficulty adjusting at the plate. Certainly, his offensive numbers appear to be in a bit of a holding pattern over the past three years.
However, an aggressive approach is ideal for playing third base, where quick reflexes and a willingness to attack the ball, along with exceptional athletic ability, are prerequisites for the job. Lawrie clearly has these attributes, as he is the best defensive third baseman I have ever seen. If he can stay healthy for a full season and he doesn’t win the Gold Glove, it’s only because the voters weren’t paying attention. I’ll miss watching him in the field.
As to whether he will do well in Oakland – I don’t know one way or another. He’s still young – he’s only seven months older than Anthony Gose – so he could improve. Certainly, the A’s hope so.
An odd thing about Lawrie’s 2014 numbers: he had no triples and no stolen base attempts last year, which suggests that his legs were bothering him more than he let on. However, he also grounded into no double plays in 282 plate appearances. It’s an odd combination – I wonder how often you see that.