500 Level Fan – The Readers Speak!

In the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to participate in a few different blogger roundtables (for Mop Up Duty’s roundtable, click here, and for C70 At The Bat’s roundtable, stay tuned – expected post date is March 27).  Each is basically a collaboration of a number of Jays bloggers giving their opinions about the off-season and expectations about the coming season.

So I thought I’d take that idea and tweak it a bit.  Instead of asking other bloggers to provide opinions I decided to reach out to my readers and gather their thoughts.  Do Blue Jays fans expect the team to make the playoffs this year?  How will Colby Rasmus fare?  Will Brett Cecil rebound and become a solid #3 starter?

Read on and find out.

1. How many HR will Jose Bautista hit in 2012?

The answers here ranged from a low of 35 (not a lot of faith in the big man by my Dad, 500 Level Fan Sr.!) to a high of 57.  In fact, there were two who pegged Bau to eclipse the 50 home run mark, and each gave quite specific answers:

“57.  He will also win the home run derby and hit a grand slam in the all star game.”

“54 – the mild winter should help the ball carry this year, plus the cement in the dome is finally dry so he won’t have the “McGriff” issue.” (great Sky High – The Story of the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays reference)

Overall, the average of the responses was just over 42, so it looks like we expect another 40+ HR season from Mr. Bautista.

2. What type of season do you expect from Colby Rasmus?

Here is a sample of some of the words that were used in the answers: breakout, bullish, good, solid, meh, bad, very bad, spectacular, and “he baffles me”.

Basically, the opinions on Colby were all over the place.  While one expects an .800 + OPS and over 20 HR, another expects him to struggle to reach a .700 OPS and barely hit double digit home runs. 

The one consistent theme was defense.  Most expect solid to outstanding defense in CF from Colby, with one reader even predicting a Gold Glove award.  A few also predicted good things speed-wise from Rasmus, with double digit steals.

Overall, the poll suggests that most aren’t as excited about Rasmus in 2012 as I am, but most agree that he is not as bad as he was in 2011. 

3. What do you expect from Brett Cecil this season?

The overwhelming majority of responses to this question were negative.  Apparently we have NO FAITH in Brett Cecil.

– “I have reservations about him.”

– “He has velocity issues.  Best hope is a decent 4-5 starter.  The guy just doesn’t make me confident.”

– “Inconsistent.  He may end up a bullpen guy unfortunately.”

– “I think he struggles with his velocity, continues to give up lots of HR, and probably ends up on the DL.  5.15 ERA.”

– “Demoted or bullpen by June.”

But it was not all doom and gloom for Mr. Cecil.  One responder called him a “lean mean no. 3 starter” while another said he would have a “good year.”

There was a battle over his appearance though, with two readers taking polar opposite positions:

– “I expect big things…I like his glasses.”

– “I don’t trust pitchers with glasses unless they are named Rick Vaughn.”

Prove us wrong Brett.

4. Do you anticipate a big trade before the deadline?  If so, who comes and who goes?

Every single response I received said yes – there will be a trade, but were unsure as to whether it would be big or not.  Most said they had no idea who would go, and for what, but that some moves would be made.  The consensus was:

– any trade will likely catch us off guard

– tweaks would likely be minor

– AA would not target a rental player

– any potential trade would bring back starting pitching and/or first base help

Some did name names that they expect to see leaving the franchise, specifically one (or more) of Adam Lind, Travis Snider, Colby Rasmus, Eric Thames, Kyle Drabek, J.P. Arencibia, and Brett Cecil.  Some interesting names were floated as potential targets for Anthopoulos including Josh Johnson of the Marlins, and Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, and Brandon Beachy of the Braves.

Oh – and I would be doing an injustice if I didn’t mention the baffling response of one man who simply said: “The Big Hurt will rise again”. 


5. How many wins will the Jays have in 2012?

For all of the griping and whining that Jays fans did this offseason, you wouldn’t know it by reading the responses to this question.  Either the angry fans who thought the Jays missed the boat this past winter are in the minority, or my readers are heavily drinking the 500 Level Fan Kool-Aid, because nothing but high numbers came back.

Seriously – the lowest number of wins predicted is 86, which would mark a five game improvement over 2011.  The high was 94. Three different people see the Jays eclipsing the 90-win plateau.  Over 50% of all respondents gave the same number: 88. 

Optimism is high in Blue Jay-ville right now.

6. Will the Jays make the playoffs?

Based on the number of wins expected, it shouldn’t come as a shock that over 60% of the readers expect to see Toronto making their first post-season appearance since 1993.  Those who don’t think the 88-odd wins will be enough added a note that said that the Jays will be close, and that September will be exciting for the first time in a while.

Some even went as far as to predict some playoff success as well, with two saying that Toronto would win the one-game Wild Card round.  In fact, Toronto will “win with a final score of 6 to 3…there will be a game changing double because the ball ends up under the opponents foul line bullpen and gets stuck in a jacket/cup just like Luis Sojo when the Mariners beat the Angels in a one game playoff in 1995.”

Long live Sojo.

Bonus – Tell me the stat line (AVG / HR / RBI) for Edwin Encarnacion

As 500 Level Fan readers are well aware, I have an issue with EE.  I love him.  I hate him.  I want him to lead the team to glory.  I want him released.  I think he is amazing.  I think he sucks.  I am basically all over the place on him.  But right now I am extremely high on EE.  I even drafted him in a Dynasty Keeper Fantasy Baseball League. 


Apparently others don’t share that love.  This is the average stat line I received:

.272 average, 20 HR, 66 RBI.

Those are decent numbers, pretty much right on par with his production last year, but not as high as I see them going in 2012 (for my prediction check back soon for the 2012 MLB and Blue Jay prediction columns).

One respondent expects Edwin to have 0 home runs at the All-Star break, then pick it up.  One respondent flat out refused to answer, saying “there will be enough posts from the 500 Level Fan himself on EE.  I will read those, comment, and ridicule them.”  One anticipates Edwin to miss 12 games due a mild oblique strain, and another 4 for violating team conduct rules.

Friends, I ask you – where is the love?

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