Edwin Encarnacion – Dexter Fowler – Josh Reddick – Charlie Blackmon – Curtis Granderson.
What do these guys have in common? They’re players which the Toronto Blue Jays were rumoured to have interest in this offseason. These are also five players which are projected to have a worse 2017 campaign than Jose Bautista.
Joey Bats forecasts to be a projections darling for the 2017 season, as predictions show he may have a better year than the aforementioned free agent and trade targets of the Blue Jays.
Admittedly, projections is a tricky game. By no means is it indicative of what will happen, it’s a calculated glimpse into what likely could happen – and those projections are predicting a bounce-back season for Jose Bautista.
The Blue Jays were raked over the coals for not re-signing Edwin Encarnacion, for coming up short in their pursuit of Dexter Fowler, and for failing to trade for Charlie Blackmon or Curtis Granderson. Ultimately, re-signing Jose Bautista may prove to be the better move for the Blue Jays.
Just for fun, here’s a look at several different projection systems for all these players over at FanGraphs (Steamer, Depth Charts, ZIPS). Incredibly, Jose Bautista outshines all of them.
2017 Player Projections (WAR Totals)
The incredible thing in all of this? Three different projection systems, five players stacked against Jose Bautista, and only one of them (ZIPS) forecasts Edwin Encarnacion to have a better season than Jose Bautista this year.
Those numbers are likely based on Rogers Centre park factors for Encarnacion – so it wouldn’t surprise me if his 3.6 projected WAR dips down by moving to Progressive Field.
If you’re a betting fan, it’s hard not to pick Bautista to exceed expectations in 2017. He missed significant time in 2016, but the two prior seasons, Jose Bautista was one of the league’s elite sluggers.
Despite being one year older and entering his age 36 season, Bautista still possesses some of the best plate recognition in MLB.
Also, Mike Petriello of MLB.com took at look at Jose Bautista’s batted balls, and his exit velocity showed no signs of slowing down last year, either. 37.1% of the balls put in play by Bautista last year were 100 MPH or more.
The biggest challenge for Jose Bautista this year will be trying to stay healthy. But if he can do that, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t return to his old “Joey Bats” self in 2017.