For a .500 team, the Jays had an above average offense. They finished fifth overall in runs scored and then they were sixth in OPS. Of course it’s a lot easier when you have the best hitter in baseball in Jose Bautista. The slugging outfielder led the league in home runs with 43 and walks with 132 and his 1.056 OPS was also tops. Brett Lawrie played in just 43 games but his impact was heard late in the season with a .953 OPS and those two guys should be mashing for the Jays for some time.
After that, it thins out a little. Adam Lind had 26 home runs but he had an OBP below .300. J.P. Arencibia was about the same with 23 home runs and a .282 OBP. Yunel Escobar was a nice surprise with eleven home runs, 61 walks and just 70 strikeouts.
On the bad side, Aaron Hill was awful during his time with the Jays. The former slugger finished with an OPS+ of just 57. Not much better was Rajai Davis, who played in 95 games and had an OPS+ of 67.
The one wild card is Travis Snider. The former blue chip prospect is still only 23 but it was another year where he spent a lot of time in the minors. Hopefully soon he’ll be able to put it together.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since the Blue Jays won back to back World Series titles. 1993 was a fun season that saw Jays make it to the show again and that series against the Phillies had plenty of drama. That’s why A&E choose Game Six of the 1993 World Series as one of their “Baseball’s Greatest Games.”
The Jays stormed out to an early lead only to see the Phillies come back with five runs in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. This stuck until the ninth inning when the magic happened and for only the second time ever, the World Series ended on a walk off home run.
Be sure to check out some of the other cool titles in the series. The oldest game is the other walk off home run back in 1960 when Bill Mazerowski got it done. Game six of the 1975 World Series is another one to check out.
The Jays are going to miss the postseason and whenever I hear about MVP candidates, more times then not, Jose Bautista isn’t in the discussion. It’s a shame because the season Bautista is having is truly a great one. One of the big reasons Bautista doesn’t have 50 home runs already is because pitchers stopped throwing to him. He leads the league with 108 walks and the next closest is Miguel Cabrera with 88. His OPS is over 100 points better then the next closest, David Ortiz. Yes, Curtis Granderson has as many home runs and he plays for the Yankees but if Bautista had the lineup protection that Granderson had, his numbers would be even better.
If there’s one knock on Bautista, it’s his second half. His first half was a monster one but in the second half, he’s hitting just .256. Still, his OPS is .925 which would still be one of the best in the league. Still, 50 home runs isn’t out of the question for Bautista.
Jose Bautista is the best hitter in baseball right now. What many people thought was a one year fluke, Bautista bounced back in July to have one of his best months of the season. His off July had him with a .835 OPS. In July, it was 1.068. It’s still trending down after the first couple of months, but those were just unreal.
In July, he belted seven home runs but he drove in 19 runs, which is his second best month. That puts him at 31 on the season. 60 is going be stretch, but he’s on pace to hit around 45. Still, it’s his rate numbers that are awesome. He sits with a .324/.459/.655 line and that’s just crazy, Barry Bonds early 2000s numbers.
I know his OBP is down from the .500 mark he had earlier in the season but it’s hard to expect him to keep up that kind of pace. Still, to put it in perspective, if he finished with a .650 or higher slugging, it would be some pretty select company. Albert Pujols did it in 2009 and he’d be the 24th player to do it since 2000. If he finishes with a .675 mark, he’d be the first person to do it since Barry Bonds in 2004 when he had an awesome .812 mark.
So much for Jose Bautista being a one year wonder. He’s following up his 54 home run campaign last year with an MVP run away type of season this year. Through two months, he leads the league in home runs (20), runs (45), OBP (.505) and slugging (.786). His 20 home runs in 47 games puts him on pace for 60 on the season so it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep it up.
Just to have some fun with splits, Bautista has a 1.310 OPS against right handed pitching so the whole platoon split thing hasn’t had an effect on him. At home, he’s hitting .407 with a 1.427 OPS. When he leads off the inning, he has a .556 OBP and a .429 batting average. After a 2-0 count he has a .761 OBP and when he makes contact with the first pitch of an at bat, he has a 1.462 OPS.
Oddly, with runners in scoring positions, he’s hitting just .250 although he’s gotten his share of walks. With nobody out in the inning, he has a 1.749 OPS. And the first time he faces a starter in the game, he has a 1.446 OPS.
The other good news is the Jays are in the mix. Even if they fall out of it though, we have something to pay attention too.
The Jays are rocking this week. They won three out of four against a tough Rangers team then took the first game in their series against the first place Yankees to get back to the .500 mark. 13-13 isn’t great, but all of baseball is down this year and that’s good for third place, just 2 1/2 games back of first place. A couple more wins against the Yankees and Jays are knocking on the door.
For those people who thought Jose Bautista was a one year wonder, think again. I know it’s just one month but he’s hitting .372 with nine home runs, and fifteen RBIs. Adam Lind is also having a nice year and he has four home runs with 20 RBIs.
So far, so good for rookie Kyle Drabak. He only has two wins but and while he needs to get those walks down (17 versus 21 strikeouts), they haven’t come back to haunt him yet. He’s 2-0 with a 3.30 ERA. Ricky Romero is 2-3 but his numbers are sweet. 41 strikeouts with 13 walks in 39 innings with a 3.00 ERA.
Two more against the Yankees and with a couple of more wins, the Jays could be a half game out. Even a split of these last two would be nice. Drabak throws this afternoon against A.J. Burnett.
You know what really used to agitate me? Back before the internets, computers used to rely heavily upon the CD-ROM. One of the most popular CD’s was Encyclopedia Britannica. I think it came free with every computer from 1990-95 sorta how those hats in Caddyshack came with a free bowl of soup. Anyway, when you typed “baseball” into the search engine for Britannica, a clip of Joe Carter’s walk-off is the ONLY video that pops up. It’s a great moment in baseball history but isn’t this supposedly America’s game? Alright, truly I don’t really care and I’m not a xenophobe or anything like that, I just thought it was ironic in a little way. Now that we got that business out of the way, lets take a look at your 2011 Toronto Blue Jays starting lineup.
Left field: Travis Snyder. 2010 splits: .255 average, 14 home runs, 32 RBI, .767 OPS. Brief: Pedestrian numbers in ’10 for the 2006 first round pick. Still, Snyder just turned 23. I’m 23 and I consider purchasing groceries an accomplishment so I can’t judge too harshly. Nonetheless, a kid with first round pick potential needs to live up to it. Maybe Snyder can flourish in the Great White North when the eyes of the baseball world are fixated elsewhere this season.
Center field: Rajai Davis. 2010 splits: .284 average, 5 home runs, 52 RBI, .697 OPS. Brief: Big shoes to fill for Davis with the departure of superstar Vernon Wells. However, Davis is no slouch himself. My man can absolutely scoot, 50 STOLEN BASES last year…HOLY CATFISH! If he gets on base he’s going to run, plain and simple. The Jays are going to need as many runners in scoring position as humanly possible. That speed also helps him cover gap-to-gap in center field as well.
Right field: Juan Rivera. 2010 splits: .252 average, 15 home runs, 52 RBI, .721 OPS. Brief: The former Angel should enjoy hitting in Rogers Centre, a friendly ballpark for right-handers. Nonetheless, Rivera, age 32, seems to be the starting right fielder until a young up-and-comer can take his spot.
Third base: Jose Bautista. 2010 splits: .260 average, 52 home runs, 124 RBI, .995 OPS. Brief: THE CHAMP IS HERE! Bautista came out of seemingly no where to win the home run title in ’10. This dude hits some awe-inspiring deep balls. The kind that make baseball fans a little weak in the knees as they watch them soar into the upper deck where Blue Jays fans often like to dress up like empty seats. Just a fun player to watch.
Short stop: Yunel Escobar. 2010 splits: .256 average, 4 home runs, 35 RBI, .655 OPS. Brief: Escobar finally got away from Bobby Cox’s clutches in Hot-lanta. He needs to get on base more, plain and simple. He’s not going to hit for power but only a .337 on-base percentage? –not going to cut the mustard..if they even use mustard in Canada…crazy Canucks…
Second base: Aaron Hill. 2010 splits: .205 average, 26 home runs, 68 RBI, .665 OPS. Brief: Crazy stat for Hill in 2010: .196 batting average for balls hit in the play…I don’t know what he did to agitate the baseball gods, but it had to be something extremely heinous. Hill diligently obeyed Murphy’s Law last season. Maybe he bounces back in’11 with a few more friendly hops to get his mojo going.
First base: Adam Lind. 2010 splits: .237 average, 23 home runs, 72 RBI, .712 OPS. Brief: Not terrible numbers for Lind, especially in the second half when he batted .267.
Designated hitter: Edwin Encarnacion: .244 average, 21 home runs, 51 RBI, .787 OPS. Brief: The direct translation for Encarnacion is “in the flesh”. That has absolutely no impact on his projections this season, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. What does project is 21 home runs in less than 350 at-bats. Depending on the transition by Lind to first base and thus, Bautista’s status at third base, we’ll have to wait and see if DH is Encarnacion’s position to lose.
Catcher: J.P. Arencibia. 2010 splits: .143 average, 2 home runs, 4 RBI, .532 OPS. Brief: If those numbers don’t make Jays fans salivate then…well frankly I don’t blame them. However, Arencibia hit .301 with 32 home runs in triple-a last season. The numbers are there for the first round pick, if only he can get them to translate to the big leagues.
Alright, see you next week for a starting rotation and reliever preview. One.
Vernon Wells has been one of the Jays best players for most of the past decade and while he was always one of my favorites, I like this deal. Wells was set to make $86 million over the next four years and while I’m sure the Angels got some money from the Jays, this is a huge cost burden that’s lifted off the team’s shoulders.
In return, the Jays get Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. Rivera is a serviceable outfielder with some pop and he belted a career best 25 home runs in 2009. Napoli is a little younger but he can also rake and he’s hit as many as 20 home runs the past three seasons. Even better, he’s done while playing in no more then 140 games in a season. Last year was the closest he came to a full season when he played in 140 games and he hit 26 home runs. He’s a nice hitting catcher and it’ll be interesting to see how the home run hitting Jays do in 2011.
The Blue Jays inked relief pitcher Carlos Villaneuva to a one year, $1.415 million deal and in the process, they avoided arbitration with the right hander. Villaneuva came over from the Brewers for the infamous player to be named later after he had one of his best season as a Brewer. After being shuffled between the pen and the rotation, the team finally made a commitment to him as a reliever and he posted 67 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings.
That still leaves eight players the Jays have to contend with that are arbitration eligible. They include Rajai Davis, Yunei Escobar, Jason Frasor, Brandon Morrow, Casey Jannsen, Jesse Litsch and Shawn Camp.
In 2010, the Toronto Blue Jays became the first team to hit more then 250 home runs yet score less then 800 runs. While the good mashers draw walks, not all of them do and the Jays combined an odd mix of a low OBP with a high slugging percentage to put together an 85 win team. The question now is, will they be able to keep it up.
At Fangraphs, they examine three teams that closely resembled the Jays offense and took a look at what they did the year after. One of those teams ironically is the 2009 Rangers, who a year later landed in the World Series. The 2006 Cubs and 2001 Brewers were also used and in all but the Brewers case, the teams made some changes to cut back on the power and increase their on-base percentage. Of course the Jays are staying the course so they speculate (using their projection system) that the Jays will fall under .500 in 2011. They do part by saying the Jays offense will be one of the most intriguing.
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