Toronto Blue Jays 2012 Expectations Revisited: Jose Bautista

By Thom Tsang
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Before the start of the 2012 MLB season, I put together a series of performance “forecasts” for the projected starters for the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, with the long season well behind the team, here’s a look back at how the players did compared to my projections – which is another way of saying let’s see how much I messed them up. Today, we complete the look at the batters with a review of Jose Bautista‘s 2012.

After two straight seasons of leading the league in home runs, there was very little doubt as to what Jose Bautista was going to do in 2012: he was going to smash the ball, and he was going to do it as well as anyone else in the league.

But, for the first month of the season, what Toronto Blue Jays witnessed was something they hadn’t seen from the slugger in quite some time – an extended slump from the team’s best player. What was wrong? Did pitchers finally make the adjustments to Bautista after two seasons?

As it turns out, it was simply a slow start. Bautista’s 1.33 BB/K suggested that he wasn’t exactly being fooled by very much; he simply couldn’t put the contact on the ball that he wanted. The .181/.320/.313 triple-slash he posted in the first month of the season would turn around, if only because he’s simply been too good for it not to.

Sure enough, it did, and it turned around quickly. Three home runs in April turned into nine in May, before Bautista finally went off in June, clubbing a league-leading 14 homers in just 27 games that month. Sure, maybe his flirtation with a .300 BA was never going to last, but even if he will never be the type of triple-crown threat that every team dreams of having, how could you argue with that type of power?

Despite the slow start, Jose Bautista was doing just fine, if not performing at the otherworldly level fans had expected.

Until he fouled off a pitch after the All-Star break, anyway. When Bautista immediately grabbed his left wrist following the swing, the immediate thought was that he’d perhaps broken it. It was later revealed that he had instead suffered a strain, and would work to be back before the end of the season.

He did just that, but probably shouldn’t have, as he re-aggravated the injury just one day after coming off the disabled list. J-Bau eventually elected to have surgery on the wrist, thus ending his season in a fashion that’s perhaps the most fitting representation of just how the Blue Jays’ season went last year.

How he’ll bounce back is a story for another day, but that his season was cut short by injury means that it could only be categorized – like the seasons of so many on this team in 2012 – a disappointment. The drop in batting average was anticipated, but despite that, I thought Bautista would wind up with his second straight 1.000+ OPS season:

My 2012 forecast: 650 PA, .295/.415/.595, 40 HR, 11 SB
J-Bau in 2012: 399 PA, 241/.358/.527, 27 HR, 5 SB

Pace-wise, I don’t think I was too far off with the home run and stolen base totals, and I’m still convinced that the triple-slash would be closer to the elite level I thought he was in line for if the injury never happened. Whether he can reach those numbers post-surgery will be one of the biggest questions that the team has to answer in 2013.

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