108: Spring is here, time to study up Jays fans

Troy Tulowitzki and the rest of the Blue Jays are busy preparing for the season. So too should Blue Jays fans. (photo: The Canadian Press / Frank Gunn

Troy Tulowitzki and the rest of the Blue Jays are busy preparing for the season. So too should Blue Jays fans. (photo: The Canadian Press / Frank Gunn

Feb. 29, 2016

Tyler King
Canadian Baseball Network

Alright, I’ll admit, I’m finding it hard to believe that Spring Training has already begun down in Dunedin, Florida.  Not that I’m complaining or anything, I just can’t help but feel like the season somehow snuck up on me. The fact that there will be a televised Blue Jays baseball game still seems surreal.

I attribute this to two separate phenomenon:

1) The 2015 season was extended by a month thanks to the team’s first October appearance in 22 years - something many fans were not accustomed to. You should therefore be forgiven if your internal baseball clock is going a little wonky.

2) I literally just received a “Toronto Winter Storm Warning” notification from the Weather Network, which also happens to tell me it currently feels like -10 degrees outside.

If you’ve also found that this 2016 Spring-ish Training has left you feeling a little blindsided, and perhaps like your Blue Jays knowledge is embarrassingly rusty, don’t sweat. In this article, my sole mission is to get you to a point where you can once again sound smart around your friends.

No seriously ... I’m really just going to list a bunch of random facts and numbers related to the projected roster (some of which, I warn you, will have absolutely zero practical use). The way I see it, if you can stump your buddy with a little trivia and win a beer or two in the process, then this has been my most noble work.

Good luck.

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In order to come up with the following facts, I went through career and season batting statistics for everyone on my projected opening day lineup. 

Of course, I understand that things happen in Spring Training, and for some reason it always seems to be bad things where the Jays are concerned (although I’ve spent the past week burning incense and studying ancient spell books, so they should be good).

A guy may come out of nowhere and earn a spot (hopefully) or get injured (not hopefully) and the roster will change accordingly. But, at least at this point, it’s reasonable to assume the lineup on April 3rd could look something like this:

Kevin “Superman” Pillar

Josh “The Bringer of Rain” Donaldson

Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista

Edwin “Eddie” Encarnacion

Troy “Tulo” Tulowitzki

Chris “The Italian Stallion (unofficial)” Colabello

Russell “(???)” Martin

Michael “The Condor(?)” Saunders

Ryan “Go-Go” Goins

I know what you’re thinking ‘Damn I forgot how sweet that lineup is’ and you’re right. You’ll probably find a few reasons why below:

  • The career batting average for all those players is a combined .261 (and yes that includes the Bautista Pittsburgh years where he didn’t hit anything). An average season for each of those guys would have placed them 8th in the MLB last season in AVG.
  • Now for the completely un-integral and absolutely biased approach: if you took each player’s BEST season (in which they played 90 games more), the team .AVG would come out to .291. That would give them the best team batting average in the MLB ... in the past 14 years.
  • If you combined everybody’s best year you’d also get a team OBP of .375 and a team SLG of .502.
  • Four players have hit .300 in a season (Donaldson, Bautista, Colabello and Tulo).
  • The player with the best single season batting average (in which he appeared in over 90 games) is Tulowitzki, who hit .340 in 2014 with the Colorado Rockies. Colabello is second with the .321 he put up last year (in 101 games and 360 plate appearances).
  • In 2015, five of those Blue Jays had batting averages that were lower than their career averages. Bautista’s average was 7 points lower. Tulo’s was 17 points lower (.280 compared with a career average of .297). But the team still led the league in almost every offensive category.
  • Based on his current numbers, Chris Colabello would average 21 home runs a season if he played a full 162 season (which kind of seems a bit low, no?)
  • Shameless plug: give Colabello some more hacks this season.
  • Over half of the guys on that roster have had 20 home run seasons (Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, Tulo, and Martin). Four have had 30 home run seasons (Martin’s career high being 23). 
  • Everyone except for Goins has hit over 10 homers in a season.
  • So yea ... “Mount Crushmore” or whatever we’re choosing to call this insanely powerful lineup now, will undoubtedly be back. 
  • Tulo has a career fielding percentage of .986. Goins’ career percentage is .992. No need to rush Devon Travis.
  • The current Blue Jay with the highest career RBI average for a season is, perhaps not surprisingly, Donaldson (who averages 101 RBIs every 162 games). Tulo is a close second averaging 100. 
  • Six of those nine potential starters have averaged more than 75 RBIs (per 162 games) for their careers (Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, Tulo, Colabello, and Martin).
  • Encarnacion posted his career best in RBIs (111) last season. He also had 39 home runs, the second most of his career (he hit 42 in 2012).
  • Tulowitizki’s favourite players growing up were allegedly Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter. Fun fact: he also prefers the music of Jay-Z.
  • Outfielder Michael Saunders only appeared in nine games last season after injuring his knee in Spring Training. He has actually only appeared in 562 games in his career despite being in the league for seven years. His career averages over that span are .230/.301/.381 which, I’ll be honest, makes me a bit nervous. But since he’s a good Canadian I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • More on Saunders: remember the 7th inning of Game 5 of the ALDS when somebody got ejected from the Jays’ bench? I finally got confirmation (from the man himself) that it was Saunders. The way he told the story was much cooler but I can’t print some of that stuff here ;)
  • In case you forgot, Donaldson’s MVP numbers from last season were .297/.371/.568 with 41 home runs and 123 RBI. Whoa.

Hopefully some of those tidbits have re-sparked your interest. The season is here, Jays fans. Get fired up.

And if you’re wondering, “Hey, what about the pitchers?” then please forgive me but I tuckered out my already feeble brain calculating some of those team averages. Math is not my forte. 

I mean, keep in mind that there really isn’t some magical baseball database that just tells you anything you want to know about any player(s) and any team(s), like I once thought. And don’t bother asking “Siri”, I’ve already tried.

Plus I need to save some material for those Spring Training lulls anyway, so stay tuned.

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Follow Tyler and #Section108 on twitter: @tylerjoseph108