Blue Jays 2017 Predictions: Figuring out the Batting Order

Feb 18, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) gets ready to bat during spring training at Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 18, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) gets ready to bat during spring training at Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

Spring Training is in full swing for the Toronto Blue Jays. Many questions will be answered as we march closer to opening day. I will theorize what the batting order could look like.

While there has a been a lot of focus on who will be leading off, this conversation has largely ignored the men who will be batting after this. I’ll break down how I expect the batting order to play out on opening day.

The leadoff man will not be Dalton Pompey. Even with a stellar performance in Spring Training, the odds are stacked against him. It’s a safe bet the Jays will prioritize keeping Ryan Goins and Ezequiel Carrera, both of whom are out of options. Instead, assuming he’s healthy, I think Devon Travis represents the best option atop the order. In his playing time over the last two seasons, Travis has not hit below .300 and has posted an average On Base Percentage of .342. While not the speediest guy in the lineup, he has demonstrated the ability to hit at an elite level, and a full season from him should be a tremendous boon.

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Donaldson has hit from the two hole during most of his tenure in Toronto. However, I believe that Jose Bautista is the better bat for this position. Bautista not only offers the fearsome offensive potential he’s known for, but an uncanny ability to draw a walk and lengthen an at bat. Even during a down year, he posted an OBP of .366. Combine this with his power ability and he looks like a complete package in the two hole. Batting former MVP Donaldson behind him is an excellent way to drive in runs. Josh is the complete package, and his power, efficiency at the plate, and speed make him an excellent third man.

Batting clean up will be newcomer Kendrys Morales. This is the obvious spot on the order for the slugger. He’s not going to contribute much aside from power, but he’s sure to make more than one pitcher break a sweat. Transitioning from a pitcher-friendly park to the spacious Rogers Centre is sure to be a boon as well. The 5th slot is where things will start rotating based on performance and match up. Having a man like Troy Tulowitzki as the 5th hitter is something that dreams are made of. Sure he’ll never have the power he had at Coors Field, but Tulo is still an elite hitter for his position. He will provide excellent protection for Morales.

Depending on the production, the Sixth slot could be occupied by Steve Pearce. With solid career averages in both BA and OBP Pearce could be a great boon towards the bottom of the lineup. Where he fits in on the field with the team remains to be seen, but he represents an excellent bat in the 6th or 7th slot. Reliable Russell Martin figures to share most of the work at the 6/7 spot as well. A productive Pearce could help protect Martin and lessen his role in the order.

If Pearce isn’t in the lineup, then it’s a who’s who for the 7, 8, and 9 spots. A productive Melvin Upton or Carrera could see time at 7, with defensive whiz Kevin Pillar batting 8th. He’s proven to be a clutch hitter, despite not having the strongest bat. With his speed and athleticism, he turns into an absolute threat if the roster turns over. The 9th spot figures to see Justin Smoak as a near permanent fixture. He’s been tabbed by John Gibbons as the everyday First Baseman, to many’s dismay. He possesses a boom or bust bat but can contribute well defensively.

Next: OF Defense: Pearce vs Saunders

Of course much will change between now and opening day. We’ll find out where Pearce figures into the field and who will come away the victor of the logjam at left. Health issues for Pearce and Travis too could delay their ability to start on opening day. That said, the Jays have an excellent offensive core. The Jays will continue to be a force to be reckoned with if everyone can stay healthy.