Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays’ Key To 2017 Success

dlynch
Mar 27, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) reacts to striking out in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2017; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) reacts to striking out in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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It’s known that the Blue Jays have a very strong team this year, with a few weaknesses. But there is one player who could switch this team just from competitive to a title threat: Jose Bautista.

Jose Bautista is one of the most polarizing players in the entire MLB. You either love his fire and competitiveness, or hate his showboating and attitude. But one thing is certain: Bautista is key to the success of the Jays. In other words, He’s the most important player on the team.

I didn’t pick a guy like Josh Donaldson, Kendrys Morales, or Aaron Sanchez, because we know what to expect from them. There’s a set of expectations we know they can reach, and it’s very likely they will reach it. They also aren’t very likely to go too far above expectantions. With Donaldson we can expect a .290 average with 35 home runs and 90-100 RBIs. He’s very likely to reach that, maybe a bit more, but not much.

But with Bautista, we don’t quite know what to expect. In previous seasons he had been great, amassing 15.3 WAR between 2013-2015 before falling off a cliff last year and having a WAR of 1.0. With some bad injuries in the last year, we don’t know for sure if Bautista’s 100 percent ready for a corner outfield role again. This is what makes his season so intriguing. We don’t know what to expect.

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And this is why he is the most important player on the Jays, and the key to their success. He is also going to, most nights, hit high in the order. For the season opener, John Gibbons has him as the number three batter. Typically that’s where the strongest hitter resides, although in recent years the second spot could hold the same recognition.

The point of batting a strong hitter in the three-hole is to have them able to drive in the top two hitters, and get on base for hitters 4-6.  Bautista batting three means that Gibbons is confident in his abilities as one of the top hitters on the Jays.

Another reason why Bautista is important is the outfield depth. While the infield is full of game changers at nearly every position, the outfield isn’t as good. Beyond him and Kevin Pillar, there isn’t much, with Ezequiel Carrera slotted in as the starting left fielder. If Bautista doesn’t do well, the Jays don’t have enough depth to mask it. So Bautista has to be strong to lift the Jays outfield into respectability.

If Bautista doesn’t do well, the Jays go from a top contender, to fringe playoff team. If he is in top form, he can lift the Jays deep into the playoffs. No other player has that much weight on the 2017 Blue Jays. One reason many experts don’t have the Jays doing as well this season as in past years is because the impact of Bautista is so up in the air.

In all, Bautista is the key to the success on the Jays because he has a chance to be much better than expected and lift expectations. He is being given a chance to be a top hitter and be the top run-producer on the team, and he needs to be strong to help the outfield not get trampled on. He also would turn the team into instant contenders.

Next: Blue Jays release outfielder, Melvin Upton Jr

You may have a different idea of who the key to success and most important player on the Jays is, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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