It's that time of year, again.
No, I'm not talking about exciting fall baseball (although it will be great to see some dramatic meaningful games get started), but rather the time of year when we start hearing about the Toronto Blue Jays embracing their role as "spoilers."
It's a role they've embraced fully since winning consecutive World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. The Jays haven't seen the postseason since then, so when September rolls around, it's spoiler-time in Toronto.
And while it may be increasingly frustrating for Jays fans to listen to their players talk about how they're "playing for next season"—with the odd homophobic slur thrown in—things have gone so wrong this season that it would have been a miracle if the Jays were in playoff contention.
The poster boy for the Jays failure in 2012 is Jose Bautista.
Some may argue that Ricky Romero best embodies the 2012 edition of the Blue Jays, but Bautista's season fits much better.
He showed flashes of brilliance early, but struggled to perform to expectations and was hampered by injuries. Sound like a baseball team you know?
Despite the fact that Bautista had one of his most forgettable seasons since joining the Jays, there's no reason for fans to worry about him for next season.
First, let's assume he stayed healthy in 2012 and look at his stats, extrapolating them across 5650 plate appearances.
Bautista would have posted a season of 104 runs, 130 hits, 22 doubles, 43 home runs, 105 RBI, 96 walks with a .243 average. In comparison, Bautista would have had a slightly less-productive season than Edwin Encarnacion. While it would have been a bit of a step back considering how strong Bautista's 2011 was, it's still an impressive stat line.
It's also worth noting that Bautista's .215 batting average on balls in play was 55 points lower than his career average of .270. That could be chalked up to his problems at the plate, but statistics tell us that the .215 number is an outlier. Quite simply, Bautista will be less unlucky in 2013.
Also, his ratio batting numbers were practically identical to his previous numbers in 2010 and 2011. Bautista had a 6.8% home-run percentage on all plate appearances with a slightly lower strikeout rate. His walk rate was lower due to a decrease in intentional walks, but his extra-base-hits ratio was a strong 10.3%.
All things considered, Bautista was hitting at the same clip as his 2010 self.
So, fundamentally, Bautista is still a talented player but will he be the same player physically in 2013?
According to Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, there's no reason he should have nagging wrist problems next season.
In an article appearing in the National Post, Fuld explained that he had the exact same wrist injury Bautista suffered and had no problems returning to 100 percent three months after his surgery. Yes, everybody's different, but considering Bautista relies so much on his swing speed to generate power, it's relieving to know that the procedure does not leave any lingering pain or discomfort.
So, according to Fuld, Bautista shouldn't have any physical problems once spring training starts next March.
No physical problems, no talent problems, no worries.
If the Jays All-Star right fielder can keep the rest of his body healthy and match his production rates from 2012, there's no reason for Jays fans to fret.
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