Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Season Preview: Jose Bautista


Despite the fuss around the will-they-won’t-they regarding contract extensions, Jose Bautista is still set to be an integral part of the Blue Jays offence this upcoming season.

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As the Blue Jays march towards opening day, we will be going through the projected roster (and slightly beyond) to project what could go wrong, what could go right, and how the coming year might play out. Next is the franchise slugger Jose Bautista.

2015 Performance Recap

Bautista was up to his usual tricks in 2015. Hitting third in the lineup allowed him to mash the way he has for half a decade. While his batting average was down from previous years (.250), his 40 homers, 108 runs, and 114 RBI’s are numbers the Jays haven’t seen since 2011.

The fact that he led the American League with walks helped to make up for the dip in average. While reigning MVP Josh Donaldson arguably stole the show, the epic bat flip and fall outfrom it in the American League Division Series is the lasting memory of Bautista’s 2015 season.

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2016 Role and STEAMER Projections

This season figures to be more of the same for Bautista. He’s still expected to man the third spot in the order and provide offensively. His STEAMER projections have him slashing and Average of .257 and an OBP of .370 which are around his 2015 stats.

That said, the rest of his numbers 31 home runs, 84 runs, and 90 RBI’s are quite a bit lower than the last few seasons. While regression is no doubt being factored into these numbers, two things stand out. Bautista has defied odds regarding regression and it’s a walk year. If talk with the Jays stall, you can bet Bautista will be mashing like no one’s business to ensure he gets the biggest paycheque he can come Fall.

What Could Go Wrong?

Old man regression appears to be one of the biggest concerns. Many point to his drop in average in ’15 as the early signs.  2015 also saw Bautista avoid long periods of time on the Disabled List. An extended stay, whether it be the re-injury of his shoulder or something else, could have significant negative repercussions on the Blue Jays all season long.

While managing the loss of his bat would be one thing, the depth in the outfield is uncertain at best, and playing around an injured Bautista could prove difficult if Michael Saunders or Dalton Pompey aren’t working out.

What Could Go Right?

Bautista could continue to rake the way he did last year. With the dynamic lineup around him, an electric Bautista helps make everyone else that much better. Even while slumping, he represents a feared power hitter capable of changing the game in one mighty swing. Given that it is his walk year, and that he’s a professional, I expect more will go right for him this year than will go wrong. We’ve already seen what happens when Yoenis Cespedes and Chris Davis are fishing off big contracts, si who knows what Joey Bats will be capable of.

Next: 5 Blue Jays stories worth a bigger conversation this spring

The Bottom Line

Regardless of where Bautista ends up spending the twilight years of his career, he is set to be one of the lineup’s work horses in 2016. While projections are conservative, it is likely that Bautista will once again defy all odds and be the Joey Bats we all know. Combined with his elite plate discipline that was on display again last season, Bautista will continue to be a man that no pitcher wants to face next.