Record 42-40; 5th in the American League East; 8.0 games back of the Yankees
The Toronto Blue Jays have had an up-and-down first half of their 2012 season, which has seen the bats of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion dazzle, while ace Ricky Romero has struggled mightily.
Here are our individual mid-term report cards for each of the Jays’ hitters through 83 games.
Catcher: J.P. Arencibia
The starting catcher is having a very mediocre season thus far, and is on pace to carbon copy his totals from last year. His batting average is low, as are his production numbers. However, that’s not what you’re really asking for from a catcher. Arencibia has called good games for his pitchers, has shown a vastly improved blocking ability and has also thrown out an impressive amount of potential base thieves.
Backup Catcher: Jeff Mathis
Mathis has done a nice job in the backup catching role. The Jays picked him up this off-season with the hope that he would do exactly what he’s done – coach their young pitchers.
It’s been a tough season for Lind, who looks like he might have his timing down since returning from Las Vegas. The Jays expected more from the former Silver Slugger and he has not come close to meeting those expectations this year. However, now that he’s back in the Majors he appears to be back to his old form, though it’s really too early to tell. If not for Adam’s recent resurgence, his grade would be a D.
Second Base: Kelly Johnson
Johnson has struggled offensively this year, while his defence has certainly been under par. After getting off to a hot start in the slugging department, his numbers have tailed off, creating a rather forgettable season. His batting average and production are very low for a starting player, meaning that he should be on the trading block.
Shortstop: Yunel Escobar
The Jays’ starting shortstop has underachieved quite a bit, and hasn’t been hitting for average or driving in runs. The former was expected out of Escobar, the team’s opening day lead-off man, but he’s struggled to get on base for a non-power hitting infielder. On the defensive side of things, he’s had an average season.
Utility Infielder : Omar Vizquel
The old man has done a fine job playing infield backup. His still great glove comes in handy during late-game subs. He can start or play off the bench, and is also a great mentor for the youngsters.
Third Baseman: Brett Lawrie
A lot was expected from the slugging sophomore and he’s delivered. While his power numbers are lower than what last year’s stats would have suggested, the Jays’ new lead-off man has dazzled in the one-spot, collecting hits and driving in runs. Lawrie’s energy is contagious and his presence propels his team to the next level. Defensively, he’s been close to flawless this year, and has made some spectacular plays because he never gives up on the ball when it’s in play.
Utility Infielder: Yan Gomes
The rookie has played nearly every infield position thus far and has been solid while doing so. He’s shown a good glove on defence and has also shown slashes of power at the plate. Despite hitting for a low batting average, he’s been a very good situational hitter.
Left Fielder: Rajai Davis
Davis has done what was asked of him, though no more and no less. He uses his speed in the outfield to track down balls, though, can be very shaky defensively. He’s stolen a few bases here, beat out a couple of infield singles there and has bunted a few guys over here.
Centre Fielder: Colby Rasmus
Rasmus has been one of the Blue Jays’ top hitters and run producers this year. After a cool start, the starting centre fielder has caught fire at the plate, hitting for a solid batting average along with a lot of pop. Defensively, he’s been a gazelle, covering tons of range and sacrificing his body. One of the feel-good-stories for the Jays.
Utility Outfielder: Eric Thames
An opening day starter, Thames has not been as good as expected. He was demoted to the minors because of his poor hitting.
Right Fielder: Jose Bautista
What more can be said that hasn’t already been mentioned over the last two seasons? Bautista was deadly in June and leads the majors in homeruns at the midway mark. This season is another one where he’s continually damaged baseballs to left while employing his pull tendencies. He’s amongst the elite in most A.L. stats, minus his so-so batting average. A three-time All-Star, Bautista is headed to the 83rd Midseason Classic in a starting role.
Utility Outfielder: Ben Francisco
Francisco has been decent for the Jays. His batting average and production numbers are very low and almost non-existent, but he has contributed. His sub-par glove has added depth to the outfield.
DH: Edwin Encarnacion
Encarncaion has had a career year, and a no-doubter at that. Not only has he hit for a very high average, but the full-time designated hitter has emerged as a top power-hitter and run producer. He’s smashed previous career highs and has emerged as one of the best all-around players in baseball. A top five slugger in the American League, he should be a sound MVP candidate come late September.
What do you think of our grades? Were we right or wrong? Sound off in the comments below.