Asche Showing Signs for Promising Career – Phillies Nation

Asche Showing Signs for Promising Career

Cody Asche came out of the gates on fire on Opening Day, smashing a home run, driving in two and scoring four times in the Phillies’ 14-10 win over Texas.

Asche has now been in the league for 52 games—a little less than a third of a full season. It is time to start looking at his numbers and thinking about him less as a serviceable player, and more as a future All-Star.

It’s a bold statement, of course, but it is steeped in reason. Based on what we have seen from the 23-year old Asche, there is no reason he should not be able to put up a consistent 25/90/.285 line as his career progresses into its prime.

Cody Asche has recorded six homers and 29 RBI in his first 52 big league games (AP Photo)

Cody Asche has recorded six homers and 29 RBI in his first 52 big league games (AP Photo)

Think about what Cody Asche is. He is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and is lean with good speed. He bats left handed, has a short swing, hits line drives, plays hard, and has broken into the big leagues at 23 years of age as a third basemen.

Where have we seen this before?

Before you go up in arms, I am not comparing Asche to Chase Utley. Well, in a way I am, but I’m definitely not saying Asche is going to be Chase Utley. Utley is an All-Star, World Series winner and has a list of other various accolades that prove how good of a hitter he was and still is.

What I am doing is looking at a player, who in almost every way plays a similar style of game to Utley, who is a teammate of Utley, and who more than likely gets advice from Utley, and recognizing that, based on his early ML performance, absolutely has the potential to follow in his footsteps.

Through Wednesday, Asche has recorded 170 big league at bats in his 52 games. In those at bats, he has six home runs, 24 RBI, nine doubles, a triple and has hit .247. Not terribly impressive numbers at first glance, but let’s break it down a little.

Triple those numbers as if he played 156 games in a season. Now you are looking at 18 homers and 72 RBI, prorated. In fact, if you look at his 2013 season as a whole, with half the season in Triple-A and half with the Phillies, Asche actually had a line of 20/90/.277 with 32 doubles and 12 stolen bases. Granted, Triple-A is not the majors, but it is still fairly impressive.

For comparison, Utley had a .234 average, three home runs, 30 RBI, 10 doubles and a triple through the first 166 at bats of his career. The numbers are nearly identical, and Asche is a year younger than Utley was at the time. Utley’s breakout season came in 2005 at age 26—his first full season in the big leagues. Asche will likely have three full seasons of playing every day before he reaches that age, and more than twice as many at bats.

There are other statistical factors that lead one to believe Asche could be a real offensive threat. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .297 as a Major League player. To show comparison, Jimmy Rollins’ career BABIP is .295, and it was .303 in 2007 when he won the MVP Award. That shows Asche is not getting cheap hits, he is lining the ball hard.

Some people worry about Asche’s fielding (16 total errors last year, and a .959 fielding percentage both at Triple-A and with the Phillies), but if you can hit, there will be a spot in the lineup. Remember, Utley was once a third base prospect who moved to second, only to make 15 errors in his first full season.

Statistics are statistics. They tell you what has happened, not what is going to happen. But in baseball, a lot of times patterns hold fairly true. What is there not to like about the start Asche has had to his career? What is there to make one think he cannot be an All-Star caliber player? In addition, he is learning from the very player who he is modeled after. How often does a player get that chance? We’ve seen how veteran stars can transform young players (i.e. Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick).

The signs are there for a solid career, now we just have to wait and see.



  1. Hogey's Role

    April 3, 2014 at 9:45 am

    There are times certainly that asche does somewhat resemble chase utley, it’s really intriguing… So far I have been very impressed so far with what asche has done, hopefully he will be able to keep improving over time…

    And to your last point I was very impressed with Kendrick’s outing last night, he pitched extremely well

  2. Mark

    April 3, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I’m sure hoping for the best out of Asche, but even thinking about a future All-Star appearance is pure fantasy. Utley was drafted in the 1st round and considered one of the best pure hitters out of college that year. Asche was a fourth round pick. The talent level between the two is way off. And picking random stats that are similar between these players doesn’t make them comparable at all. The comparison to Rollins is even more off-base. Rollins was a shortstop drafted in the 2nd round straight from high school. We are talking about much different tools between these players. As a Phillie fan I hope Asche exceeds expectations, which I think most scouts had as a fringe starter. But any talk of All-Star appearances is unrealistic and setting people up for disappointment.

  3. Keith L

    April 3, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I hope the Phillies figure out a way to keep both Asche and Franco. One of them has to change positions most likely.

  4. lantern face

    April 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    I don’t see that as a proper application of BAbip. BAbip does not distinguish between well-hit balls and dribblers, it just shows how often balls put into play turn into hits. for example, Ben Revere and Carlos Gomez had identical .344 BAbips in 2013 despite Gomez having a slugging percentage .150 higher and an ISO almost .200 higher than Revere’s. he also hit 24 more homeruns, which aren’t factored into BAbip at all.

    another thing you want to be careful about, especially with players as new to the scene as Asche, is small sample sizes. a third of a season is not nearly enough basis to write the story of a player’s career or future, and multiplying a small sample size times 3 is not the same as a full season.

    to answer a few of your closing questions: the reason to assume Asche will fall short of a perennial all-star is that he’s never projected to be one. projections even from his time in the minors suggested he’ll be around a league average third baseman, possibly a little higher, and a third of a year in the majors isn’t enough to overcome years of scouting, especially if he hit .235 and struck out 24% of the time in that year.

    which brings me to another answer: there are a few things not to like about Asche’s debut, but don’t mistake my saying so for being down on him altogether. I like Asche and think there’s nothing wrong with a league average third baseman, but I won’t pretend he has no weaknesses just because we want him to be better than he is. it doesn’t matter what player he reminds anyone of until his performance matches the comp.

    1. a 24% K-rate matched him with Delmon Young and John Mayberry last year, higher than Kratz, Quintero, and Galvis.

    2. his average and OBP need to be a lot higher than they were last year.

    3. his fielding is pretty poor, as it was through all stages of the minors. while I think it could improve, it hasn’t yet and it remains a valid answer to the question of what not to like about his debut.

    and don’t get me started on RBI as a measure of performance.

    • wbramh

      April 3, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Asche doesn’t generate the power generally expected from a corner infielder. If he had a higher OBP I could see him surviving in some capacity on the team despite some deficiencies on defense but not at 3rd unless Franco goes to 1st – and that would be a waste of Franco’s superior fielding and cannon of an arm. Really, the most logical position for him is at second and while that experiment didn’t work so well in the minors it might be worth revisiting if there’s no one else available to take over from Utley in the next few years. But Franco may be breathing down Asche’s neck this year.

  5. Philz

    April 3, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    What is with all the haters? Including those in the organization? I agree your stats are a stretch but I love everything about this kid. I see him making a big impact in the league. I hope RAJ and the rest if the haters don’t get him trades before it comes to fruition!

  6. Lefty

    April 3, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Obviously it’s way too early to project Asche, but it sure is nice to have something positive to talk about. I am hopeful that this kid can become a very solid player too. Thanks Kenny, good piece.

  7. Tony P

    April 3, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    The time has come to trade and rebuild.

  8. bacardipr

    April 3, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    My fear is that they trade him in favor of Franco. Theres have to be some way we can keep both of these guys. Perhaps shifting one of them to 1st. I disagree on his OBP capability comment made by wb. Other than his rookie year in which he was bad overall his OBP has been pretty good. He managed 20 HR’s last year between AAA and the majors. Each year he has been getting progressively better in this department as well. If anything that concerns me a bit is his glove. Looking Feliz like in one play and Bungling the next. As a hitter i believe he can do .290/340 OBP 15 HR’s a year. If he can get the glove work to about average he can be very valuable.

    • wbramh

      April 4, 2014 at 4:01 am

      I would agree that it would be foolish to trade Asche unless the trade landed a sure star like (a healthy) Kemp or a Bogaerts level prospect at SS since Franco appears to be good insurance to cover 3rd. Also, the team is very thin in competent bench backups at 3rd if you remove either Asche or Franco from the mix. Of course, the problem is that you have 2 strong candidates for the starter position at 3rd while viable replacements at 1st, 2nd & SS are going to have to be addressed, and very soon. Since Franco is the better 3rd baseman do you relegate him to 1st base where his cannon arm will be largely wasted while diminishing the team defensively by leaving Asche at 3rd? Asche would make more sense at 1st (actually the same stretch as Franco) except for the fact that he’s another lefty like Howard and wouldn’t see the playing time as long as Howard justifies being in the lineup. I wish Asche could play 2nd but that early career experiment seemed to fizzle, quickly.

      I would agree that Asche could continue to grow and that Kenny’s projection of his small sample from last year would suggests potential in the batter’s box. If, like a Brooks Robinson, Asche hits 20+ HRs and 90 RBIs per year in his prime with a .340 OPB, that would be just fine, especially if his glove work and arm prove to be at least average. Nobody expects Brooks or Schmitty, just a player who can contribute.

      But again, with the shadow of Franco looming, I sure wish Asche could play 2nd base but that isn’t going to happen. In fact, with those plate numbers he might be the better choice in left over Dom Brown whose small sample of success at bat has yet to offer more promise than Asche. And while Asche may not be a natural in left, neither is Dom.

  9. Scotty Ingerton

    April 4, 2014 at 8:10 am

    It’s a little too early for this. We’re still talking about a guy who batted .211 last September and looked over-matched at the plate. Why not have this discussion in October when he has a more substantial body of work to look at?

  10. Jeff

    April 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Simply overrated. Fine, he’s only 23 but I’m not buying into any Utley comparisons until he can prove it. We’re so desperate as fans of a subpar franchise, that we have to hinge hopes and dreams on what is bound to be a mediocre and probably short ML career. That is the definition of pathetic.

  11. Rick

    April 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Asche is a breath of fresh air and YOUTH on the team. I am very happy he “won” the position this Spring and look forward to him have a great season.

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