What a difference a year makes.
As July, 2008 opened, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus was toiling for the Memphis Redbirds, looking forward to playing both in the Futures Game and the Summer Olympics.
Then in the first game of the month, on July 1, Rasmus was sidelined by a groin strain. After missing the Futures Game, he returned for just five contests later in the month before suffering another injury, a sprain of the MCL in his left knee. That nixed his Olympic plans and ended his Triple-A season.
On this July 1, Rasmus celebrated his ascension to the Cardinals starting lineup by slamming a walk-off home run to defeat the San Francisco Giants Wednesday evening. He collected three more hits on Thursday and Friday before going deep again on Saturday, a blast estimated to have traveled over 450 feet.
On Sunday, batting second, Rasmus was on base three times with a walk and two more hits, including another home run, a two-run shot. The first inning homer was his third long ball in the club’s five July games. During this time, the 22-year-old is 8-for-17, .471.
The man considered the first-half leader for the National League Rookie of the Year Award now has ten home runs in 2009. That already places him in the top ten in club history for a Cardinals player in his first season.
With just under half the season remaining, Rasmus is on a pace to hit 20 home runs. That would put him second among all Cardinals ever for home runs by a first-year player.
Of course, Albert Pujols is first with 27 in his rookie 2001 season, a campaign during which he earned the ROY Award, but consider the lofty company Rasmus is joining…
Cardinals home runs by first-year players
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Thanks to Tom Orf for the player list.