Brett Lawrie: Can Toronto Blue Jays Stud Knock in 100 Runs This Season?
Let's start with Brett Lawrie's spring stat line: 36 AB, 20 Hits, .556 BA, 1.429 OPS.
Do I have your attention yet?
After his emergence at the end of 2011, Lawrie has done nothing but hit in 2012.
For whatever reason—perhaps his electric personality, comparisons to George Brett, or that he's on every list of breakout candidates on Bleacher Report—Lawrie has Toronto Blue Jays fans asking themselves, "How good can this kid really be?"
While many Jays fans want to project Lawrie as the perfect compliment to Jose Bautista, hitting .330 with 25 HR and 110 RBI, he's still only 22 years old. He has just 150 major league at-bats under his belt.
But can he drive in 100 runs in 2012?
In a word, yes.
Expanding his stats from 2011 to 500 at-bats, Lawrie projected to hit 30 HR, but only 83 RBI. However, his lopsided HR/RBI ratio could be chalked up to the fact that the majority of his at-bats came hitting in the seventh spot in the Blue Jays lineup.
While Lawrie will likely hit from the sixth or seventh spot coming out of spring training, if he continues to hit like he has, John Farrell will move him up. That would give him more opportunities to drive in runs.
Hitting 100 RBI from the bottom third of the lineup is unheard of, so if Lawrie has any chance of hitting that number, Farrell will have to move him up.
How Many RBI Will Brett Lawrie Have in 2012?
That's really the only thing that might keep Lawrie from reaching the century mark.
In a piece on ESPN.com, Jayson Stark aptly pointed out that Lawrie's .953 OPS from 2011 puts him in Hall of Fame category. Only 14 players have ever had an OPS higher than .953 as a 21 year-old. Here are just a few of the names alongside Lawrie's: Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.
If that doesn't get Jays fans excited, nothing will.
The question isn't can Lawrie drive in 100 runs. It's when. His .413 wOBA and 8.6 runs created per game show that he's an undeniably valuable offensive producer. Considering Lawrie's clutch stats are excellent—he posted a .483 average with the game tied in 2011—it's just a matter of being placed in the right situation.
By all means, believe the hype, but Blue Jays fans shouldn't get too wrapped up in the statistics in 2012. It's only a matter of time before Brett Lawrie cements himself near the top of baseball's major offensive categories.
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