Feast or famine; the story of Cody Asche's 2014 season.
Like a late afternoon summer squall that seemingly comes out of nowhere on an otherwise sunny day, the "good" Cody Asche emerges from his periodic funks with ferocious production.
Happily, Asche's offensive explosions are a little more pleasant than a torrential downpour.
He had another terrific game at the plate in Sunday's 8-3 pasting of the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run scored. In the three-game series, Asche went 7-for-12 with a homer, two doubles, six RBIs and three runs scored. And after these last three games against the Reds, his numbers for the month of May are looking very good.
Cody Asche doing a great job for the Phils in May: .333 BA, .418 OPB, 5 2B, 3 HR. Rewarding Sandberg's patience re: Asche's slow start.— Ian Riccaboni (@IanRiccaboni) May 19, 2014
But three days ago, 'twas not so much. Coming into this weekend series against Cincinnati, Asche was hitting .219/.312/.375 with an OPS of .687 for the season. He's now at .259/.344/.444 with an OPS of .789, with four HRs, 18 RBIs, and 12 runs scored. He's walked in 11.5% of his plate appearances this season, which is the 5th-best rate on the team, behind John Mayberry (!!!), Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and Tony Gwynn Jr. And his four home runs are tied for third most on the Phils, one more than Chase Utley has hit this year.
His .789 OPS is 13th best in the Majors among third basemen, and 6th best in the National League, better than David Wright, Aramis Ramirez, Anthony Rendon, Pedro Alvarez, Chase Headley, and Pablo Sandoval.
And, he's currently engaged in a pretty terrific Twitter war with Jake Diekman, which is always a good thing.
.@JakeDiekman he's lying that's not true— Cody Asche (@cody_smasche) May 18, 2014
N'sync? Really, Cody?
Of course, as noted above, Asche's numbers weren't looking so hot three games ago. This early in the season, a blisteringly hot three-game series can catapult a player up the leader boards pretty quickly. And fair warning, many of these Asche uprisings have been followed by extended periods of struggles as well.
Asche started the season with a 3-for-4 Opening Day performance against the Rangers. He then went the rest of April without a multi-hit game, going 9-for-56, putting his batting average at .200 with an OPS of .584 by the end of the opening month.
Just after that, he put together a four-game stretch where he went 7-for-14 with 2 HRs and 5 RBIs, including his four-hit, grand-slam game against Toronto, which pushed his average up to .257 and his OPS up to .767.
Following that was an 0-for-12 streak (with five walks), which dropped his average back down to .221 and his OPS to .700. A 2-for-4 game followed, with an 0-for-6 streak after that.
Then, his monster three-game series against the Reds this weekend. Talk about whiplash.
Of course, such is the case with young players. As he accumulates more plate appearances, he's likely to become more comfortable at the plate. As he sees more of the National League's pitchers, he'll become more familiar with them. And moving him out of the 8-hole in the lineup, a very difficult spot for a rookie to be productive in the National League, to the 6-hole, has likely allowed him to see a better selection of pitches.
There is still a lot of work to be done defensively for Asche, and maintaining consistency at the plate has been hard to achieve thus far. However, this three-game stretch is the best of his young career, and hopefully will help him build some momentum as the season moves forward.
It would be very nice for one of the Phils' under-30 crowd to emerge as a productive piece to the puzzle. Hopefully, Asche is starting to do just that.