The Toronto Blue Jays were the league leaders in home runs in 2010, and it looks like they are starting to re-establish that trend in Spring Training. Jose Bautista and Adam Lind hit their first home runs of spring against the New York Yankees on Friday, which helped power them to a 10-3 victory.
They joined Edwin Encarnacion and Eric Thames as Jays that have already hit one home run each, while Brett Lawrie and Rajai Davis have both hit two so far.
It is interesting to see that Davis has already hit two, as his game is much more small ball oriented. His specialty is to create havoc on the base paths by hitting singles and doubles, then making the pitcher nervous with his constant potential to steal a base. Davis has had a very good spring so far; he is hitting .292 with three double, two home runs, and four RBI, though he is yet to steal a base.
John Farrell, the new manager of the Blue Jays, is looking to diversify the offense this year and Davis is one of the players who is quite capable of doing that. While they aren't giving up on the home run, the team is going to attempt to improve both their on-base percentage and their steals, as they were near the bottom of the league in both of those last year.
The new offense seemed to struggle a little in the first few games of spring, but has been picking up lately. For though they have six home runs, they have sixteen stolen bases so far. Of course, seven of those bags have come from Anthony Gose, the centre field prospect that they acquired from Houston in the Brett Wallace trade last year.
Gose has incredible speed, but has to be more careful about how and when he chooses to use it, as he also has a tendency to get thrown out or picked off. Nonetheless, he has still been impressing the coaches. With his potential, he could also be an all-star centre fielder in the future for the Jays.
In thirteen at-bats he has drawn four walks, has a .380 OBP and has made the seven steals as mentioned earlier.
Another prospect that continues to impress is Lawrie; the word coming from Dunedin is that he could be much closer to the majors then initially thought. He has a .381 AVG and .409 OBP in 20 at-bats, including eight hits and five RBI.
He still has an outside chance of making the team out of spring, but the fans at Rogers Centre should see him at some point this year.
Lawrie is one of the Blue Jays having a good spring so far, but it is encouraging to see who else is thriving at the plate right now. Yunel Escobar, Travis Snider and Bautista are all hitting over .400, with Snider topping out at an impressive .538 OBP, though in only 12 at-bats.
The three together in 55 at-bats have combined for 24 hits, five doubles, five walks, eight runs and an impressive 32 total bases, though they have only six RBI.
On the other hand, J.P Arencibia, Corey Patterson and Encarnacion are all struggling with batting averages under .200. One of the Jays top prospects, Adeiny Hechavarria, has yet to record a hit in 10 at-bats, but has drawn three walks.
Arencibia is said to be so focused on working on his defensive responsibilities and game calling that perhaps it is distracting him from his normally strong batting abilities. Look for him to rebound in that area as the spring goes on, and for his power start to emerge again after he gets some more time at the plate.
Scott Podsednik made his spring debut in that same game on Friday against the Yankees, recording two walks, a stolen base and a run.
The battle among starters for the fourth and fifth spots in rotation likely just got reduced by one, as veteran Scott Richmond was shut down due to shoulder soreness for the next five or six days. This doesn't completely eliminate his chances, but he was a bit of a long shot to make the cut as Kyle Drabek, Jesse Litsch and Marc Rzepczynski were the front runners.
If the Jays were to start the season right now, Drabek and Litsch would be slotted into those final spots in the rotation, and Rzepczynski could pitch in a long-relief role out of the bullpen.
The Jays don't have a lot of left-handed options in the bullpen, so another pitcher who could come in for a couple of innings could be very useful.