Back in the cold days of the winter, Andy LaRoche was described at Piratesfest by Bob Walk as someone you could get really cheap for your fantasy team that will put up some big numbers for you. Nice.
If your a fantasy baseball fan, the Yahoo sports experts, hmm…that sounds like an oxymoron. Well only one of their ”experts” has Andy ranked in the top 30 in MLB. Apparently snubbing Bob Walk as a fantasy draft expert.
Most of the speculation comes from last year. For most of September, LaRoche was soundly booed at PNC Park.
Welcome to Pittsburgh kid. We really wanted to cheer for you.
It was a rough start for the ‘other’ LaRoche. As a Pirate fan we were disgusted with another trade. But after we accepted some of the reasoning behind the trade, many started to have hope once again. Oh, how that failed again.
We expected to see, oh I don’t know, perhaps Bill Madlock at the hot corner. The Pirate PR machine was grinding, but most fans still had their doubts. He walks, he hits for power, difficult to stikeout…
Supposedly, LaRoche kept trying to hit for power. It didn’t work. LaRoche hit just .152 in 49 games. If the struggles at the plate weren’t enough, he also committed nine errors, the boos continued to cascade. He was given the starting role he had long coveted with Los Angeles, played across from his big brother, and just couldn’t get it together.
Did we miss something? He hit well in the minors. He made all the prospect hot lists, it seemed most everyone thought he should be the Dodgers answer at the hot corner, EXCEPT the Dodgers. He didn’t seem able to ever crack the LA lineup. He was having a good Spring and then hurt his thumb (and perhaps that injury didn’t go away?) and Blake DeWitt stole the job. LaRoche hit in AA and AAA. The AAA Las Vegas park was a feast for him–a true hitters park. But when he got back to LA, he didn’t appear ready and/or was bothered by the injury. When LA signed veteran Casey Blake, the chalk was on the board.
I rule it playing hurt.
Just like so many other Pirates, LaRoche is attempting to put it behind him this spring. “I have something to prove after that fiasco last year,” LaRoche said on Pirates.com. “The results are starting to come a little bit. Hopefully, it will carry over to the regular season.” He certainly hasn’t had an easy road as back spasms kept him out early in camp. I am certain that made him a little nervous after last season. He sure did show his was serious when he returned…
LaRoche has torn the cover off the ball. He looks very different. He has worked with hitting coach Don Long this year.
His numbers also are proving the work is paying off. .389 AVG in his 36 AB, .556 Slugging, also he has collected nine walks. Dejan Kovacevic PG Pirates beat writer said on KDKA Subway Sports Call, “even his foul balls have been crushed…”
“I worked out with Andy a few times in the offseason and you can tell that he’s ready to get back up here and prove that he is a Major League Baseball player,” shortstop Jack Wilson said to Pirates.com. “And everyone in this locker room will tell you that they believe Andy LaRoche is going to do just fine.”
Laroche has the potential to put up a .275 average, hit 25 – 30 homeruns, draw a lot of walks, and give the Pirates above average defense at third base. Ahh, that hated word, potential.
Make us forget how cold it is in April Andy. Make that word potential go away.