Jun 2, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) is congratulated by first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (10) in the fifth inning after hitting a solo home run against the Boston Red Sox at the Rogers Centre. The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY SportsWhen following any sports team there’s always a theme or 2 that also follows the team. For the Toronto Blue Jays right now it’s their busy offseason and their high expectations for this season. But before the Blue Jays franchise changing mega blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins the themes for the Jays were all the injuries in 2012 and their desperation for pitching.
The Blue Jays desperately need starting pitching is all you heard about the team for many many months.
There’s a reason why the entire focus for the Blue Jays was the starting pitching. The offense needed no help at all.
I didn’t even want to write about the Jays offense until now because talking about it too early would make me too excited and impatient for the season to start. I also can’t afford a lifetime supply of Ritalin.
To understand how great the Blue Jays offense is in 2013 we must first understand how great the Blue Jays offense was in 2012, which is actually a pretty hard thing to do.
Before all the Jays position players got injured last season the team stayed in the top 1-4 in runs scored in the all of baseball. Alex Anthopoulos usually tries to keep expectations as low as possible and he even said the Jays have a “championship caliber offense”. Even if you watched every game it was a bit of a head scratcher how they were doing it.
Edwin Encarnacion was the only hitter that was consistent. Jose Bautista started off slowly and wasn’t typical Bautista for the first 2 months of the season and literally everyone else had bad or down years with the bat. Then again if you have 2 players on pace to hit 40 homeruns with on base percentages in the high 300’s you’re going to score runs so it kind of makes sense.
The Blue Jays had one of the best offenses pre-injuries last year and they added the last 2 NL batting champions this offseason, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera.
Encarnacion and Melky Cabrera were 2 of the best hitters in baseball in 2012. Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Melky were 3 of the best hitters in baseball in 2011. Reyes can also steal 30 – 50 bases, maybe even 50 -78 if you want to dream about him repeating his stolen base numbers at the start of his career. If all these guys were to somehow repeat those seasons which isn’t that crazy to ask for considering they just had these seasons and our still in their prime the rest of the lineup could hit 180 and the Jays will still score a ton of runs. If they all do half of what they did those seasons the Jays offense will still be a force to be reckoned with.
Then there’s the rest of the lineup.
It feels like an eternity ago now but the expectations for Brett Lawrie’s bat going into 2012 were so huge. He was going to be the next Ryan Braun, hit 30 home runs, make the all-star team, be an MVP candidate, he was going to be hitting 4th behind Bautista before the end of April. Blue Jays fans were mad that he played in to many games in 2011 to qualify for Rookie of the Year in 2012. Baseball writers were calling him a Hall of Famer.
It’s safe to say Lawrie didn’t live up to that hype in any way. There’s a reason that hype was there though because Lawrie looks like he has the talent to do all those things. He’ll just be 23 this season so at the very least should be able to repeat 2012. If he ends up being the player we expected before 2012 or even half the player we expected to see in 2012 then we won’t have to worry about pitchers pitching around Encarnacion at all and it would make the Jays lineup even that more scary.
Then there’s Colby Rasmus, J.P. Arencibia and Adam Lind. Rasmus hasn’t been great since 2010, Lind hasn’t been great since 2009 and Arencibia’s never been great. Rasmus and Lind might not hit against lefties which should at least make them seem like their more productive. All 3 of them might continue having trouble getting on base but they can hit homeruns which is useful coming from the middle or bottom part of the order. If any or all of Rasmus, Arencibia and Lind were to magically get their acts together this season any starting pitcher that lasts more than 5 innings against the Jays deserves an automatic CY Young nomination.
Maicer Izturis had a 320 on base percentage last season which was better than Rasmus, Arencibia and Lind last year and he’s going to be hitting lower than them because of his lack of power.
Emilio Bonifacio has a career 330 on base percentage. In the last 2 seasons he has 70 stolen bases in 84 attempts and he’s also going to be hitting lower in the lineup because of his lack of power.
Even Rajai Davis’s 309 on base percentage last year is decent enough for a guy who will probably get to hit in the bottom of the lineup against lefties. He can also steal 30 – 50 bases.
With players that can get on base, hit for power and steal bases up and down the lineup the Blue Jays offense is going to be very dangerous and put a lot of runs on the board.
Then again its baseball! Where the opposite of what you expect will happen so there’s a good chance they get shut out opening day and don’t score until the 6th inning of the second game.