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.
The Blue Jays have gotten good at one thing, and that’s avoiding the arbitration table. Shawn Camp signed over the weekend and that marks twelve straight years where the team has avoided arbitration. Camp will make $750k in 2009.
Pitchers and catchers report in just one week. It’ll be an interesting season for Jays fans because it looks like they’re stuck once again in the toughest division. A.J. Burnett is gone and the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays could be the best three teams in the American League, much less the division.
My son is going to play little league this year and he got some catcher’s equipment and a top of the line baseball bag for Christmas. It’ll be nice when the snow melts and we can go out and break it in.
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