Double Play: Looking at 2011 Jays' hitting projections

Daan De Kerpel,
12/2/2010 12:26:10 PM
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With the baseball Winter Meetings set to take place on Monday, we here at the Double Play Blog decided to take a closer look at the teams' offence heading into what could be a very busy few days for the club.

To that end, we've compiled two different 2011 projection sources – one from the Bill James Handbook, and the other being the ZIPS projections, to see what fans of the Jays might be able to expect from the club going forward.

Because the Jays are currently short one everyday hitter or maybe two if the newly acquired Rajai Davis is a fourth outfielder and not a starter.  For the purposes of this exercise, we assumed that Davis would be a starter and took the starting eight and looked at their numbers. 

The complete projections can be seen here.

The biggest question tends to be what to expect from slugger Jose Bautista, who came out of nowhere to more than triple his previous season-best with 54 home runs last year.

According to the Bill James Handbook, Bautista will notch 34 home runs, but will do so in only 143 games – which is less than the 161 games he played in last year.  Similarly, the ZIPS projections which are strictly computer-based factored Bautista to hit 32 home runs in only 137 games.

Another burning question surrounds the ability of both Adam Lind and Aaron Hill to rebound from off-years in 2010 after each player broke out in 2009.

Lind is projected by both systems to improve on his .237 batting average in 2009, with the James projection having him hitting .281, and ZIPS giving him a .269 average.  They both also project a modest increase in his home run total, but neither system sees him reaching 30.

As for Hill, both systems see his batting average, which was a shockingly low .205 to return to the .255-to-.260 range.  They also project an increase in doubles, but those could come at the cost of his home run totals, which will dip a bit.

The last player of interest is the prediction for J.P. Arencibia.  The Bill James Handbook did not project numbers for the young catcher because he had limited MLB at-bats.  While ZIPS has a full-season projection of him hitting only .230, it did guess that he would hit an astounding 25 home runs. 

That number was likely partially derived from the fact that Arencibia hit 32 home runs last season in Triple-A Las Vegas, but offensive numbers are easier to come by there.

Our projections page has all the numbers you'll need for the players mentioned above, along with Vernon Wells, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar and Rajai Davis.

Projections are far from perfect (nobody in the world had Bautista for 54 home runs last season), but they can serve as a jumping off point as to what fans could reasonably expect. 

Take a look at the full projections and share your thoughts on the Jays starting eight by using the Your! Call feature below.  On Friday, we'll take a closer look at the Jays' starting rotation projections.

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