Welcome to the first part in a series breaking down the Toronto Blue Jays roster as the countdown to Spring Training begins.
I outlined the basics of the Jays situation here but I will now get deeper into the positional battles and outline what to expect from each player as the season progresses.
The outfield has experienced the least amount of change from last season, and will see only Rajai Davis not return after he signed with the Detroit Tigers.
That leaves a four-man group left over, and the Blue Jays will head into the season hoping for big production from their outfielders.
I will start with the best of the bunch.
Jose Bautista – RF
Age: 32 Years in MLB: 10 Years with Toronto Blue Jays: 6
Career Stats: BA .254 OBP .361 SLG .487 H 918 HR 201 RBI 576
2013 Stats: BA .259 OBP .358 SLG .498 H 117 HR 28 RBI 73
Jose has had a couple down years, if you can call them that. After his breakout year in 2010 when he hit 54 homeruns, and followed that up with 43 in 2011, people were about ready to call him the next Hank Aaron. (I hope no one actually did)
So the drop off was a little unexpected, although his 28 homers last season still saw him 7th in the AL.
An All-Star for four years in a row, there is nothing to stop me from thinking that he’ll bring that total five this year. Even if it is on sheer brand power.
Defensively Bautista is starting to pick it up. The coaches on the Toronto Blue Jays staff have always raved about his intelligence, and his last two seasons saw him climb into the top-10 in Total Zone Runs.
Baseball-reference is a great tool if you are new to advanced sabermetrics. In the link you will see where Bautista stacked up against other RF’s in arguably the most important defensive stat.
His bat is still his biggest weapon, but since that huge year in 2011, when he posted an insane 8.1 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) he hasn’t been able to match it in the two years since.
A lot of that has to do with how he is being pitched, and another is that pitchers are no longer scared of him. In that 2011 campaign he was walked a league high 123 times, including a league high 23 intentional walks.
In the two years since, he drew 59 and 69 walks, with 2 intentional walks in each season. That is a huge drop, and might confirm what I have thought, and that is Bautista is no longer a universally feared batter.
Durability is also a concern, as he has combined to miss 114 games in his last two seasons, after missing just 14 total in his 2010 and 2011 seasons.
If he can manage to stay healthy, and reassert himself as a dominant batter, we may well see his best season to date. However, the likelihood of that is small, and 162 game seasons will take their toll on anybody. Look for Jose Bautista to just inch over the 30 homer mark, while his defense might suffer this year in comparison to last.
Up Next: Colby Rasmus