About this time last year, we thought it was just about all over for Austin Kearns. How wrong everyone was.
Fresh off of what could have been a 3-homer game this past weekend, Kearns looks rejuvinated. Look at that picture of him above. He’s in shape. While he’s older now and the Indians have carefully limited his playing time to slightly-less then every day; he’s turned into the player that he was always projected to be.
Well, maybe some had him projected as a little bit more. We remember the first half of 2003 when we were telling people he was the next Manny Ramirez type hitter in the game. But now you see what a guy can do who is motivated to prove that he has a place in the annals and history of this great game. Now you see what a first round talent looks like when it’s not about performing for a huge contract and when there are no nagging injuries. We haven’t seen Kearns since that spring and early summer of 2003 when Ray King fell on him at home plate.
He’s hitting .296 with 7 home runs and 31 RBI. Those aren’t eye-popping numbers, but the Indians have now spun a guy who was just a spring training non-roster invite into a guy who might end up a nice player in the middle of their lineup for several years, or a guy who will bring some nice trade offers around the trading deadline.
Those who followed Kearns closely through his youth years will not forget the pedigree that he was said to have. I can guaruntee you that scouts who saw him play about eight years ago (when he hit .315 as a rookie in Cincinnati) have not forgotten that electric bat.
This is not a fluke.
Austin Kearns is a player–and with little pressure and some health–he’s delivering just a little bit on the promise he was supposed to have long ago.
It’s important to keep in mind that this guy has risen above a terrible rash of injuries to get to this point. His body is beaten up. He’s never going to be fully what he was expected to be. That said, 80% of what some scouts said he was capable of and you still have a pretty damn good Major Leaguer when healthy.
One of the few bright spots for the Tribe this season has been fun for us to follow in the box scores each night.