A few weeks ago, we published the Fake Teams 2013 Consensus Outfielder Rankings with the usual names at the top including Ryan Braun, Mike Trout, Matt Kemp and others. One outfielder who was not in our top 10 was Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. I was the low guy on Bautista amongst Jason, Bret and Craig, and I am here today to discuss why I was lower than the rest of the writers involved in our rankings project.
Bautista was having a very solid season at the plate before injuring his wrist on a swing back on July 16th. He was placed on the DL with "left wrist inflammation", and returned to game action on August 24th where he went 0-4. He played again on August 25th, but lasted just one plate appearance before being removed from the game after aggravating his left wrist. It was determined that he broke the wrist on a swing and he ended up having surgery on September 4th. It was reported that he would need four months of rehab to recover from the surgery.
More recent reports, early November to be exact, stated he would be ready to pick up a bat in two weeks. I checked out his Twitter account and he has not mentioned anything about celebrating picking up a bat, hitting a line drive or going yard in batting practice yet. Just hitting the weights a few times.
Anyway, the main reason why I am so down on Bautista is due to how quickly he will recover from the September wrist surgery. As mentioned, the surgery was on his left wrist, which is the wrist that produces the power for a right-handed hitter. By recover, I mean Bautista getting back to the power hitter he was before the wrist injury back in mid-July. The Bautista who hit 27 home runs in 332 at bats last season, where 20% of the fly balls he hit landed over the wall.
I just don't think his power will recover as quickly as the wrist will recover, if you know what I mean. He will probably be fine by spring training, and will be in the Opening Day lineup, but I see his power returning slowing in 2013. There are other reasons for my concerns about Bautista, and they have nothing to do with his wrist injury, and more to do with the trend in his power.
Let's take a look at the trend in his Isolated Power (ISO), Slugging Percentage (SLG), home runs (HRs) and doubles (2B) over the last two seasons:
2010: .357 ISO/ .617 SLG/ 54 HRs/ 35 2Bs
2011: .306 ISO/ .608 SLG/ 43 HRs/ 24 2Bs
2012: .286 ISO/ .527 SLG/ 27 HRs/ 14 2Bs
The trend in his power is obvious, as his ISO dropped 71 points and his SLG dropped 90 points, so the wrist injury certainly does not make one feel confident that the power will return.
I was checking out Twitter one night last week and was shocked at one fantasy baseball experts' response to a followers question asking for his projection for Bautista for 2013. His response was .270 BA and 40 HRs. What? I followed that with a tweet saying I would take the under on both. The expert was not happy that I didn't not respond directly to him, and I see his point, but that doesn't change the fact that I think he is overly optimistic on Bautista at this moment in time.
I see Bautista disappointing fantasy owners in 2013, and would not be shocked if he hits less than 30 home runs in 2013. I have gone over my reasons above. And as far as the .270 batting average projection, I respond with this:
2006: .235 BA
2007: .254 BA
2008: .238 BA
2009: .235 BA
2010: .260 BA
2011: .302 BA
2012: .241 BA
Bautista has hit over .260 just once in his career, and I do not see him hitting .270 coming off wrist surgery.
Getting back to our rankings, we ranked him as our 14th ranked outfielder for 2013, and Mock Draft Central tends to agree with our ranking, as his current ADP is 27th overall and MDC has him ranked as their #13 outfielder. I personally ranked him as my 23rd ranked outfielder for 2013, so had I been higher on him, he may have cracked our Top 10 Outfielders.
I project Bautista to hit .240 with around 30 home runs, 80 runs scored and 90 RBI. That may seem low, especially since the Blue Jays just overhauled their roster with former Marlins, including Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera, but the hype might be too thick at the moment. I see Bautista struggling to be the old Bautista in 2013, and don't be shocked if he underperforms my projection.