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Meet: Josh Rabe

He doesn't want to go back to Rochester.

A couple of days ago I was talking about over-achievers, and Rabe's name was one of the number mentioned.  In his first stint at the Major League level (thanks, Bert), Rabe has had his off moments, but for the large part he's been more than just a stop-gap and more than we realistically could have hoped for.

In 2000, the Minnesota Twins drafted him 312nd overall in the 11th round of the amateur entry draft.  His promising numbers in college didn't translate to professional ball, but because of perhaps a lack of outfield talent and age as opposed to consistent performance, he was continually promoted.

On October 15, Josh Rabe will turn 28.  In the same vein as Mike Smith, who was mentioned twice here yesterday, Rabe is a guy who was always good enough to earn his spot in the minor leagues, but never earned the opportunity to rise to that final elusive echelon.  While Smith's performances faultered after his one callup with the Blue Jays, however, Josh Rabe is just another name on a long list of players who have been more or less blocked to The Show by the guys currently in The Show.  Then again, he never showed an abundance of promise at any level with any sort of consistency; certainly nothing that would lead you to believe he could be as successful as he's been.

On rare occasions, things are unexplainable.  There are some people who have the most frustrating difficulties overcoming the palest of challenges, yet once faced with the ultimate test find a new level and a new strength.  While the sample size isn't large enough to say that Rabe currently is and will remain a successful Major League ballplayer, he's certainly doing his best to make any personnel decisions regarding his flight back to Rochester as difficult as possible.

Josh Rabe likes being in the majors.  He doesn't want to go back.  Duh.

Of course the biggest issue facing Rabe currently is his defense.  Twice in one game last week, his relay throws from the outfield sailed, giving the appearance of a man whose head just wasn't in the right place.  No matter what the score or what the situation, these lapses are inexcuseable.  It's true; they happen.  But they shouldn't.

In last night's game against the Royals, Rabe lifted his third homer of the season.  Again...SAMPLE SIZE!...but...he's currently showing better power than he's shown in all but a couple of stints in the minors.  While his two homers in the Metrodome have both been pulled to left field (there's been some surprising power, sure), he's also getting his hits to go opposite field.  For being a rookie, even a 27-year old rookie, he's showing good plate control.

Josh Rabe Before THE CALL
Year Level Age   AB  Avg  Obp  Slg   Ops

1999  NCAA  20  203 .389 .464 .650 1.114
2000  NCAA  21  215 .363 .475 .660 1.135
2000  Rook  21  154 .221 .344 .312  .656
2001    A   22  397 .282 .340 .406  .746
2002    A+  23  297 .340 .427 .481  .908
2002   AA   23  183 .235 .282 .306  .588
2003   AA   24  366 .303 .361 .445  .806
2003  AAA   24  131 .237 .301 .397  .698
2004  AAA   25  425 .264 .333 .376  .709
2005  AAA   26  285 .239 .313 .414  .727
2006  AAA   27  316 .297 .364 .399  .763

I'd draw your attention to the fact that he's succeeded when he's a bit old for a certain level, and I'd draw your attention to the fact that he doesn't hit for power in the minor leagues AND doesn't have a great history for reaching base at a decent rate AND how that doesn't bode well for the majors...but you're smart people.  You'd pick up on that on your own.

As you can see, while Rabe has certainly been a serviceable offensive presence, there isn't much to lean on when hoping for a plateau anywhere near his current level of play.  He hits stretches where not only does he strike out a lot, but he finds it hard to earn a free pass.  He has decent arm strength, but his range (which is mediocre at best) does him no favors, and he's shown himself to be lackadaisical at times in the field.

In 11 games and 29 at-bats, Rabe is hitting .414/.433/.724, with 3 homers, 7 strikeouts and just 1 walk.  He's racked up a 7.2 VORP, which is exactly the same as Luis Castillo's VORP.  Out of his 12 hits, the only extra-base hits were the home runs.  I don't want to take anything away from what Josh Rabe has done since his callup, and I'm not trying to diminish what it's meant to a Twins club desperate for someone to step in and hit, but it can't really continue...can it?  There's just no precendent for it.

Still, the future is never written in stone.  Rabe, more than any of us whining and analyzing and micro-managing fans, wants to keep his spot on the 25-man roster.  Perhaps he'll still find a way to do it; he put another exclaimation point next to his name last night.