Monday, January 30, 2012

How Many Home Runs Will Jose Bautista Hit in 2012?


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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
How does somebody go from being on five major league rosters one year, to being baseball's home run king in back-to-back seasons? How does a player go from a complete enigma to one of the most feared hitters in the game?

How does somebody go from being a scrap heap pick-up to a perennial MVP candidate? If somebody knew the answer to these questions, I'm sure there would be a lot more players like Jose Bautista out there.

There truly is no career arc that is quite as unique as Jose Bautista's. And it all culminated with his unprecedencted 2010 season, one which virtually came out of nowhere. Then something very interesting happened the following season.

After he set the bar so incredibly high in 2010, Jose Bautista actually became a better player in 2011.

The home run total dropped off expectedly, but I don't think anyone could have foreseen that Bautista would actually increase his on base percentage by 69 points year over year.

When I step back and really think about it, it still astounds me how incredible the past two years have been for Jose Bautista.

After two consecutive MVP calibre seasons, what's next for Jose Bautista? More interestingly, how many home runs might he hit in 2012?

Last year, I foolishly underestimated Jose's power and predicted he would hit somewhere in the neighbourhood of 27 home runs. As it turns out, even Zips and Bill James missed the mark, but that's a prediction I'm very glad to be wrong about.

Here is a look at what Zips, Bill James, RotoChamp and FanGraphs Fans are forecasting this season in regards to home runs for Jose Bautista:

Projection Home Runs
ZiPS 36
Bill James 38
RotoChamp 41
FanGraphs Fans 41

RotoChamp and FanGraphs Fans are a little more generous with the tater tots, but ultimately most of the predictions are in the same general neighbourhood. After two straight seasons as the home run king, folks are finally becoming hip to the ways of the great JoBau.

Barring an injury or some sort of freak slump, I think it's safe to say we can count on Jose Bautista to hit at least 37 home runs this season. I would even venture to say that's a very modest projection, considering what Bautista has done versus the competition.

I've always pined for Jose Bautista to move down into the cleanup spot, but he would need some protection in the three spot. It might be too much too soon, but Brett Lawrie seems like the ideal candidate to bat third. Alternatively, it's also a spot Edwin Encarnacion could find some success in.

In the grand scheme of things, I guess it doesn't even really matter how many home runs Jose Bautista hits, it's when and where he hits them. The onus will fall on John Farrell to find the ideal place for Bautista in the lineup as to maximize his potency.

It's a little ambitious to expect Jose Bautista to hit 54 home runs ever again. Even though the home run totals are now fewer and farther between, becoming less of a one trick pony and more of a complete player is an excellent trade-off.

All I'm asking is that Jose keeps the tradition alive and delivers at least one Jose Bautista-patented staredown this season. Bonus points if it comes against the Yankees or Red Sox.

Personally, I'm throwing my hat in the ring for 37 home runs by Jose Bautista in 2012. But if you had to venture a guess, how many times do you think Bautista will round the bases this year?

13 comments:

  1. Given the ankle injury and Jose admitting he was chasing pitches in the second half of last year, I think he'll go over 40 again, with an OBP over .400.

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  2. I'm hoping that Jose's second half last year was a product of the ankle injury and Jose's admitted pitch chasing (As Chill pointed out). So I will also put him at between 35 and 40. 38 if I have to pick a hard number. However, if somebody in this lineup (Lind? EE? Johnson? Rasmus? Anybody?) catches on, and can be a scary bat behind Bautista, forcing pitchers to pitch to him again, I don't think 45 or more is unreasonable.

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  3. I think somebody else does something this season, giving him some protection. 46 home runs for Bau. It's a lock.

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  4. Chill, I want to say the ankle injury was on his plant foot, so that may have had something to do with his "regression". Also, there was a stretch during early June where he slumped a bit (if you even want to call it a "slump").

    Ball Fan, I'm betting they stick with Lind to start off, but I'd love to see Farrell give Lawrie the reins and bat him in the three hole. Put Edwin in at 5th, and that looks pretty solid to me.

    Jeremy, I'm hoping so - it seems like Jose is out there on an island all by himself sometimes.

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  5. Sporkless, I'm down with 41. That's a good over/under.

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  6. I conservatively said 28 last year so this year I'll conservatively say 38.

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  7. I will go with 33. Same number that Ryan Braun hit last year. Still think teams are going to pitch around Jose so he won't get a lot to hit. Would have been nice to see Fielder hitting fourth though.

    What he really needs is someone (with speed) on base when he comes up so that they can't do the 'shift' and flood the left side of the field. If the Jays can keep other teams honest by getting men on and having someone provide protection behind then 33 is going to be low.

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  8. Over 9000!!!!!

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    I'm going to go with "At least as many as any other AL hitter."

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  9. Drew, that's the thing - 2010 was such an outlier year that I think a lot of us expected Jose to come back down to earth the following season. I was pleasantly surprised that he far surpassed any expectations I ever had for him in 2011.

    Kevin, 33 is a pretty good guess. At the State of the Franchise, Farrell reiterated Escobar would remain in the leadoff spot, and I'm curious as to who will slot in ahead of Jose. Maybe Rasmus perhaps?

    Coolhead, the sky's the limit, right?

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  10. Barring injury, I'd say 44 home runs in 2012

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  11. Robbie, sounds like a safe bet to me! Anything in the 35-45 range is pretty reasonable to expect ... which is crazy in itself.

    When was the last time the Blue Jays had a player who would almost certainly hit 30+ home runs in a season?

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  12. Recently watched the movie 61* and it puts me in the mood to say JB will hit 62 in 2012.

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