174 Walks, You Say? Projecting the Blue Jays’ Hitters


Jose Bautista
Jose Bautista


So, this past week wasn’t such an easy one for Blue Jays fans. Winning just two games out of 6 against division rivals is enough to leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth. It got me thinking: Is it too early to think about September and possibly even October? How will the Blue Jays end up? Will they be in the race for a division title? Or, will they be chilling in the basement watching the playoffs on TV?



So, I went over to Fangraphs.com and checked out their predictions for the Toronto Blue Jays. Being that the Blue Jays’ current record is 12-13, FanGraphs projects the Jays to finish this season at 81-81. Now, we all know that a .500 ball team is NOT going to win the American League East. And, anyone watching over the last week had to have their doubts as to the Blue Jays could even come close.


There is a point near the beginning of a season where fans can say, “Man, if so-and-so continues hitting like this, he’ll have a monster year” or “So-and-so is on pace for X number of this or that”. It is fun to watch your favorite player do well and think about what could be. After all, every year starts with ‘what could be’. I thought it would be fun to take a look at what could be for the Toronto Blue Jays.


With all of that said, there were some positives to take away from the last two series’…if you look hard enough…honest. Brett Lawrie was mashing the ball, picking up homeruns and RBI at a nice pace. Jose Bautista is walking a marathon. There are signs that point to an interesting year of production from the Blue Jays. Actually, you may have to twist the truth a little to help. I’ll explain:


To predict a pace for performance, I will use a VERY simple formula to calculate a prediction for players for where they could end up by year’s end. By NO means is it accurate or even logical. It is just meant for fun. So, if you use it to place bets, don’t come crying to me when you lose. Here’s the formula. I’ll look at an individual stat (stats from BaseballReference.com), say homeruns, for a given player. As of Monday, the season is 25 games old, or 15.43% complete. If you take the stat and divide it by 15.43 then multiply by 100, (in theory) you should come up with a number that will give you an idea of the pace a certain player is on. (ex: 10/15.43 X 100= 66.67) As I said, it is an over simplified way to look at stat projections. It is certainly not going to be a real indicator of success. It is nowhere near the scientific formulas employed by Sabermagicians, odds makers or anyone with credibility, really. It takes nothing into account but what has been done and how much more time is left. It’s just fun to do. So, here we go:


Brett Lawrie
Brett Lawrie


Let’s look at the start by Brett Lawrie. He’s had a very interesting statistical start to 2014. Here is his line thus far: 25 games, 17 hits, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 6, BB, 20 K. This is an odd like due to him having more strikeouts than hits and 6 of his 17 hits being homeruns. There is no way that this will hold up throughout a season, but if we apply the above formula, here’s what he’d end up with: 110 hits, 39 homeruns, 129 RBI, 39BB, 129 K. Immediately, everyone will scream that this is flawed. There is no indicator that Lawrie will play all 162 games. Of course he won’t. If you look at BaseballReference.com you’ll see his 162 game averages. Since, he’s never played more than 125 games, it is all speculation. But, wouldn’t it be great if he came anywhere near the 39 HR?! I would hope to the baseball gods that Lawrie is able to work more than a mere 39 BB over a full season. Also, there is also no way he’ll come close to having 35% of his hits leave the yard. I actually think he’ll collect more hits than 110. He has to. But 39 HR and 129 RBI from a Gold Glove caliber third baseman…yes, please.


Edwin Encarnacion
Edwin Encarnacion


Next, I’ll look at Edwin Encarnacion. He’s off to a very slow start, though he’s showing signs of coming around. Here’s what we’ve got: 25 games, 23 hits, 8 2B, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 11 BB, 25 K. Maybe the only scary number here is his HR total…and perhaps his RBI’s. But, let’s see what he is on pace for: 149 hits, 52 doubles, 6 HR, 78 RBI, 71 BB, 162 K. The strike out totals of 1 per game is alarming! He’s only ever struck our more than 100 times (102) in his career. That was in 2008 with the Cincinnati Reds. So, I think we can safely say that is not a worry. He’ll also walk more than 71 times, especially when he heats up. His homerun pace is even scarier. Obviously, 6 HR from Encarnacion is just ludicrous. But, look at the doubles! 52 would smash his career mark of 36 in 2011. IF he could come close to that, then his RBI totals would surely shoot up past 78.


I’d also like to have some fun with Jose Bautista’s numbers. So far this season, he is an interesting case study. He’s leading the league in walks and has been on base in every game thus far. Here are his numbers: 25 games, 25 hits, 7 HR, 17 RBI, 27 BB, 19 K. Obviously, his walk total is the most interesting stat. He’s taking a much more patient approach at the plate this season. Let’s see what he is pace for: 162 hits, 45 HR, 110 RBI, 174 BB, 123 K. Um, this line doesn’t seem so out of the realm of possibility. Bautista’s monster seasons of 2010 (148), 2011 (155) nearly saw him reach 162 hits. A few more lucky bounces and he could actually reach this pace. No one will argue that he is not capable of hitting 45 HR and 110 RBI. In fact, if the top of the order can establish some consistency, he could surpass that RBI number. Twice in his career, Bautista passed 100 walks (2010- 100, 2011- 132). It would be ridiculously high, but certainly within the realm of possibility for him to come close to 174. It might make it easier to do with Encarnacion and Lawrie hitting well behind him. His pace for strikeouts is 7 off his career high of 116 in 2010. Again, it is within the realm of possibility. Not such a silly system now, is it?


Well, yes, it still may be. This formula doesn’t take into account injury, hot/cold streaks and the other myriad of variables that come up in the run of a full 162 game season. But, it was fun.


Here are some other notable paces: Melky Cabrera (39 hits) is on pace for 253 hits! Colby Rasmus (30) is on pace to strike out 194 times! Yikes! Gulp! Dioner Navarro is on pace to throw out 26 attempted base thieves.


These “predictions” were meant to be fun. Again, some are absolutely ridiculous, others, not so much. Despite what some will say, there is no ONE way to predict future performance. All we can do is follow along, hope for the best and enjoy the ride. Baseball is a wonderful game in that it provides countless opportunities for thought and debate. That is why we love it.


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