By most definitions, Jabari Blash is a forgettable player.
Drafted in 2010 by the Mariners, Blash has toiled in the minor leagues for nearly a decade. Now 28 years of age, the prospect shine has worn off of an outfielder who has consistently put up gaudy power numbers and strong patience, though unable to maintain any inkling of consistent contact. The scouting report has stayed the same over the years, but Blash has laid a goose egg in his numerous big-league stints (a .200/.323/.336 career slash line, an 84 wRC+, and 0 fWAR).
Here is what John Sickels of Minor League Ball had to say at the beginning of 2016, before Blash had made his major-league debut. The below is still true, give or take:
He has very impressive power and is willing to work a count, but he takes a big hack, swings and misses a lot, and is not going to hit for much of an average at the big league level. Although not much of a stolen base threat, he is a good athlete with solid-average running speed and an above-average arm. While he is a bit error-prone, his tools work very well in right field.
Blash is a little different than who he used to be, not by statistics but in the way of his stance.
And that little tidbit brings us to what he did yesterday afternoon against fellow journeyman Casey Lawrence. Blash has always had the power, but this, this is something else.
Lawrence makes a really poor mistake here, hanging an 81 mph slider in the wheelhouse of a right-handed power hitter. A slider with swifter movement or harder velocity and the batter would not hit it with the oomph he does here. But, of course, that’s not what happened and Jabari Blash does exactly what one would expect Jabari Blash to do, sending the ball a long, long way.
How far, exactly?
Statcast estimates the ball was hit 440 feet, and with a launch angle of 31 degrees and an exit velocity of 115.1 mph (!!), there was a 99% probability that Blash would have gotten a hit —most likely a home run, given the aforementioned factors. But that’s not what actually happened.
Blash hits the ball out of the park! It’s not often you see a ball get out of a stadium as big as Safeco, and quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a ball hit out of the park at Safeco.
This isn’t to conclude anything remarkable about Blash, in particular.
We are still discussing a 28-year old who has not figured out how to make consistent contact at the big-league level. Perhaps Blash’s new swing will assist with that. Perhaps it will not.
For now, Jabari Blash does an incredible baseball thing. Sometimes, that’s enough.