Toronto Blue Jays: Kelly Johnson, Adam Lind & Colby Rasmus Are Keys to Season

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Toronto Blue Jays: Kelly Johnson, Adam Lind & Colby Rasmus Are Keys to Season
Brad White/Getty Images

AVG/OBP/SLG—.232/.299/.414 

That is the combined line of Kelly Johnson, Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus from 2011. 

Pretty ugly.

The Blue Jays should be better in 2012 than they were in 2011, thanks to the continued development of young players Brett Lawrie, JP Arencibia and Henderson Alvarez, as well as a complete overhaul to the bullpen that blew a major league-worst 25 saves last summer.

But if the Jays hope to do more than get better—if they intend to make a serious run at a playoff spot this season—they will need better performances from veterans Johnson, Lind and Rasmus.

 

Kelly Johnson 2011 Statistics: .222/.304/.413, 21 HR, 58 RBI, 16 SB

Kelly Johnson will be entering his seventh season as a pro this summer. He sports a solid career line of .260/.343/.441. 

Though 2011 was an overwhelming disappointment for Johnson, the Texas native enjoyed a measure of rejuvenation when he left the Arizona Diamondbacks to join the Blue Jays in a midseason swap. With the Jays last season, Johnson hit .270/.364/.417, with 3 HR, 9 RBI and 3 SB in 33 games.

Though his power dropped off a bit in TO, this is the type of production that Jays fans will be hoping carries over to the 2012 campaign.

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

There is reason for optimism in regards to Johnson, grounded in the assumption that such a line can be maintained, as it looks quite similar to his career numbers. Furthermore, Johnson's last four seasons have been alternating successes and struggles, indicating he could perform well in 2012.

Ultimately, if Johnson turns in a 20-plus home-run season and maintains a .260-plus average, the Jays will be thrilled. Second base is not a spot that offense usually comes from, but Johnson has the ability to be an exception to the rule.

Johnson must be better in 2012 than he was in 2011, and all indications are that he will be.

 

Adam Lind 2011 Statistics: .251/.295/.439, 26 HR, 87 RBI, 1 SB

Though Lind's power numbers from 2011 are nothing to scoff at, a sub-.295 OBP is an unacceptable number for both a first baseman and a cleanup hitter.

Lind signed a multi-year deal with the Jays after a career year in 2009 but struggled to replicate that performance in 2010 and 2011. While his home-run totals remain respectable, he has seen his AVG and OBP plummet since 2009, and has failed to reach 90 RBI, even with the luxury of hitting behind Jose Bautista (who gets on base more than anyone else in baseball) since that year.

Abelimages/Getty Images

Given that Lind has five seasons under his belt, and only one of them can be classified as a success, it is beginning to look a lot like 2009 was a flash in the pan. Jays fans will hope for a rebound season from Lind, but a performance similar to that of two years ago is far less likely than a repeat of last season's.

Lind must be better in 2012 than he was in 2011, but forecasting a marked improvement would be grounded in optimism rather than logic.

 

Colby Rasmus 2011 Statistics: .225/.298/.391, 14 HR, 53 RBI, 5 SB

Perhaps the most enigmatic member of the bunch, Rasmus will enter his fourth pro season with mediocre career stats that fall far short of what has been expected of him.

In 2010, Rasmus seemed to be on his way to obtaining the stardom many had decreed him to be destined for, but this ascendance was blocked spectacularly in 2011 by a train wreck of a season. 

Between 2010 and 2011, Rasmus saw his average drop by 51 points, his OBP by 63, and his SLG by 107. He also hit nine fewer home runs, cashed in 13 less baserunners and swiped seven fewer bags.

It is difficult to predict exactly how Rasmus will rebound in 2012 and beyond, given that he is still young and relatively inexperienced. It is not inconceivable that last year's dubious effort will look like a hiccup in an otherwise shining career, but it is similarly realistic to anticipate that Rasmus never lives up to the lofty expectations thrust upon him as a prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Rasmus should be better for Toronto in 2012, but to what degree will define how he is valued for the rest of his career. He has shown the ability to succeed at the major league level but has also shown the capacity to fall flat on his face. 

2012 will be Rasmus' final chance to live up to the hype, something Jays fans know is far from guaranteed after watching Travis Snider the past three years.

Rasmus must be better in 2012 than he was in 2011, and though he almost certainly will be, the degree by which he improves will be strongly reflected in the Jays' win total.

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