ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 08: Jayson Nix #28 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a solo home run against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the eighth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on April 8, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
The Blue Jays acquired Jayson Nix for cash late in spring training and he has become a big part of the Jays potent offense. A former first round pick and All-American High Schooler, Nix has failed to live up to expectations so far in his career. He has struggled to establish himself as a starter and was in danger of becoming a utility player with power. We all know the story of a certain Blue Jays utility player turned home run champion. Nix may not become a 50 home run hitter the way Jose Bautista did but he could follow in his footsteps by becoming a solid major leaguer once given a full time role. The Blue Jays didn't have to pay much for the rights to Nix and right now neither would you. Given Nix's early season success and pedigree it might be worth taking a chance on the power hitting infielder.
More on Nix after the jump...
After an All-American High School selection in 2001 he was taken by the Rockies with the 44th pick. He had a very good pro debut as an 18 year old in the Pioneer League and the Rockies thought they may have a future star middle infielder. He continued to excel as he made his way through the low minors with his peak coming in 2003 with a .281 AVG, 21 HR, 24 SB and 46 doubles in High-A. He was named the 94th best prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2004 season. Nix would make his AA debut that year and puttered with a .213 AVG. His power would disappear the next two seasons and after a 2006 season that saw him hit only 2 home runs in nearly 400 plate appearances it looked like he may not even reach the majors. Nix was able to rebound and made his way to the majors where he put up solid power numbers with dismal batting averages.
In 615 AL at bats Jayson Nix has hit 28 home runs and stolen 13 bases. Being able to to compile those numbers in part time duty shows he is capable of putting up some big power numbers if given regular playing time. It's not absurd to imagine Nix hitting 25 home runs in a season with 30 being a possibility. Toss in 10 stolen bases and you have a roto force at second base. However, Nix also sports a .219 career batting average. Much of that can be blamed on a .253 career BABIP. If that numbers can hop into the league average realm he could bat .260-.270. His career minor league batting average is .261 and he has had two seasons above .290 in AAA.
Nix will have to improve his career 26.2% K-rate if he wants a respectable batting average and regular playing time. He has had that number down to 17% in AAA so it's reasonable to think he can bring it closer to 20% in the majors. He has yet to show that ability in 2011 with a 27.6% K-rate but it hasn't mattered yet as his AVG is .310 thanks to a .368 BABIP.
Nix is eligible at 2B and 3B in many leagues and is even seeing time in the outfield this year and could gain eligibility there. It will be at second base where he holds most value but the third base eligibility is a nice bonus as it allows him to fill in for any injuries you may have at 3B or 1B/3B. I can't say enough about how much I value these kinds of players.
Playing time may be a concern for some as Nix is not the hands down starting third baseman for the Jays but he has played 10 of their first 11 games and it appears John Farrell will find a way to fit him into the lineup most days. With Rajai Davis on the DL Nix should be starting everyday and he could remain in the lineup when Davis returns with Juan Rivera struggling mightily. Being able to play almost any position on the field ensures at bats for him.
I like Jayson Nix for at least 15 home runs in 2011 but I expect much more if he continues to play the majority of the Blue Jays' games. Add a normalized BABIP and a few steals to the equation and I believe Nix has the potential to be among the top 10 second basemen in fantasy. Am I being too bullish on Nix or do you share my enthusiasm for the power hitting multi-eligible infielder? How concerned are you with his playing time and history of terrible batting averages in the majors?