With Toronto's flurry of offseason activity, Toronto is poised to compete in what is, arguably, baseball's toughest division.
After the blockbuster deal that saw the Toronto Blue Jays bring in pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, as well as speedsters Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio, and veteran catcher John Buck, Toronto's team dynamic went through a major makeover.
Couple that with the Blue Jays' recent signing of left fielder Melky Cabrera, and you have a few new faces that will slot into Toronto's starting lineup come opening day.
Here's the lineup Toronto should field in April.
1. Jose Reyes, SS
In what should be a no-brainer for whomever the Jays new manager is, Jose Reyes will slot into the leadoff hole. Reyes knows how to hit and get on base via a walk. Once aboard, Reyes is also capable of turning on the burners and nabbing steals at an alarming rate. In fact, the last two seasons have seen Reyes steal 39 and 40 bases, respectively.
Reyes is the ideal leadoff hitter for the Jays.
2. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
The two-hole will be one of the spots in the Jays lineup that will spark some debate. Some will be of the belief that Brett Lawrie should be penciled in there, while others would like to see Melky Cabrera assume that role.
I, however, think that Emilio Bonifacio is best suited to hit second.
Why? Because other than this season, Melky Cabrera's OBP hasn't been much better than Bonifacio's. Yet Bonifacio has much more speed than Cabrera. Last season, Bonifacio stole 40 bases; this season, he swiped an unfathomable 30 bags in just 64 games (h/t baseball-reference.com) while being caught just three times.
That is some major speed.
While his OBP isn't ideal, Bonifacio would be like a second leadoff hitter for Toronto ahead of the power bats.
3. Jose Bautista, RF
Another no-brainer here.
Have to let baseball's most dominant power hitter of the past few years stay in his spot in the order. Once April rolls around and Bautista is 100 percent healthy, he'll undoubtedly be hitting in the three spot.
This time though, he'll have two great table-setters in front of him.
4. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/DH
Since coming to Toronto, Edwin Encarnacion has found his numbers improve steadily. His batting average has gone up every season he's been in Toronto, and he finally reached his power potential this season, when he powered his way to 42 home runs and 110 RBI.
Encarnacion seems to be fairly comfortable batting cleanup, and with more talent at the top of the order, the Jays have no reason to mess with his spot in the lineup.
5. Brett Lawrie, 3B
Now that Toronto has finally acquired the true top-of-the-order bat(s) they have so desperately coveted, they can now use Brett Lawrie where he is most effective.
Lawrie has long been viewed as a combo threat, who can hurt you with his speed and his power.
Moving to the five spot in the lineup allows Lawrie's power to be put to better use.
Sure, last season he hit a lot of singles, but he is still a young player, and his power should come around sooner rather than later. If that time happens to be this year, it would be wise to have him in a spot where long balls could mean multiple runs.
Not to mention, having speed in your five-hole, along with power, gives you another threat on the base paths in a less traditional spot in the lineup, which can really throw off a team's game plan.
6. Melky Cabrera, LF
While Melky Cabrera may be a popular pick to hit out of the two-hole, I'm not quite sold.
First, he doesn't possess half the speed of either Jose Reyes or Emilio Bonifacio.
Yes, he gets on base more frequently than Bonifacio, but many have questioned whether he earned last year's elevated OBP or whether the drugs he was busted for using assisted him in that department.
If Melky continues to hit and Bonifacio struggles early on (or injures himself again), then making a switch wouldn't be a big issue.
To start the season, however, starting your fastest players in your leadoff and second spots is the way to go.
That puts Melky in the six spot in the order.
7. Adam Lind, 1B/DH
Perhaps moving down to the seventh spot in the lineup will alleviate some pressure from Adam Lind and help him re-gain his 2009 form.
With the pressure to hit, run and score all being on the guys ahead of him in the lineup, Lind will have the opportunity to build on last year, where he was able to come back and bring his batting average up to .255 after being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.
In fact, that .255 mark is better than both of the guys that should be hitting behind him in the batting order.
8. Colby Rasmus, CF
Colby Rasmus has done a more-than-adequate job for the Toronto Blue Jays.
He's played a solid center field and has been rather productive, belting 23 home runs and knocking in 75 RBI in his first full season with the Blue Jays.
Unfortunately, his .223 batting average is going to get him buried toward the bottom of the lineup.
This, however, is not a bad thing for the team.
Consider this: The 7-8-9 hitters will all have the ability to hit at least 20 homes runs, each.
If I'm an opposing pitcher, I'm not looking forward to facing this lineup.
9. J.P. Arencibia, C
One of the Blue Jays resident Twitter rock stars, Arencibia is in the same boat as Rasmus.
He is more than serviceable in terms of fielding his position (a rather important one at that) and can still be a very productive hitter—he has averaged 20.5 home runs and 67 RBI in his two full seasons.
Unfortunately, his average over those seasons? .225.
Yes, I know he's a catcher, but that changes nothing. Arencibia should still be hitting ninth come opening day in 2013.
Be sure to comment below with your feelings on what the Jays lineup should look like on opening day.