For the third consecutive year, 500 Level Fan has decided to let the readers – the fine, educated, and outstanding readers – take over.
Over the past two seasons I have polled the readers on anything and everything Jays related, from team and player performance, to potential trades and rookie call-ups. This year, after the pain of 2013, the predictions are much, much more conservative.
So without further ado, here are the results of the 2014 500 Level Fan Reader Poll.
1. After two straight injury shortened seasons, Jose Bautista looks healthy. How many home runs will he hit this season, and will it be enough to regain the AL HR crown?
There was a wide range of opinion here. Some bought into Bautista’s red hot spring, and pegged him for over 40 dingers, while others were more skeptical and predicted in the low 20’s. Except for one brave soul, nobody thinks he will end the season at the top of the home run charts.
Lowest prediction: 23 HR
Highest prediction: 47 HR
Average prediction: 35 HR
2. Aside from Bautista and Encarnacion, predict Toronto’s top-3 HR hitters.
Far and away, the most popular answer was Adam Lind followed by Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. But there were seven other combinations predicted by the group, including some with some faces that I never expected to see, such as Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Dioner Navarro, and Moises Sierra.
– Cabrera, Reyes, Rasmus
– Lind, Cabrera, Navarro
– Lind, Rasmus, Cabrera
– Rasmus, Lawrie, Lind
– Rasmus, Lind, Lawrie
– Reyes, Lind, Cabrera
– Sierra, Rasmus, Lawrie
3. R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and Brandon Morrow seem entrenched in the rotation. Outside of those three, what two pitchers will start the most games?
Seven different pitchers were named by the group, with Drew Hutchison getting by far and away the most support. Other names mentioned were J.A. Happ, Esmil Rogers, Dustin McGowan, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and the return of Ricky Romero. There was also one response that predicted Hutchison and a player acquired via trade would start the most.
4. It appears that Ryan Goins will enter the year as the second baseman, but there are concerns about his bat. Who finishes the year at 2B?
About half of the readers believe that Goins has what it takes to last the entire season. But there were plenty of other responses. Maicer Izturis was mentioned a few times, along with three players currently in the minor league system: Munenori Kawasaki and Chris Getz (in AAA Buffalo) and Andy Burns (in AA New Hampshire). There were also two readers who predicted a player from outside the organization would take over at second: one predicted a superstar, while the other predicted Seattle’s Nick Franklin.
5. 2013 was a nightmare for Melky Cabrera. Predict his 2014 stats.
Quite the range of predictions for Melky. In terms of batting average, the group was all over the place, with guesses as low as .212 and as high as .332. For OPS, there was also a huge range, from .600 up to .815. Finally, in terms of home run power, there was a massive range. A few think Melky’s power will return and see him eclipsing 30 HR, while a few aren’t buying it and predict single digits.
6. Will any rooke call-ups make an appearance this year?
The obvious candidates here are Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, and they were named on almost every ballot. Other names brought up include Andy Burns, Jonathan Diaz (which, of course, has already come to fruition), A.J. Jimenez, Sean Nolin, and Kenny Wilson.
7. Who will be the first major player traded, if any?
I asked this last season and the nearly unanimous response was Colby Rasmus. Rasmus, of course, finished the season with the Jays and returns as the starting CF.
This year there was no overwhelming favourite. Rasmus was once again mentioned a few times, but so were Aaron Loup, Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie, Ryan Goins, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, and somewhat surprisingly Jose Bautista.
8. How many wins do you expect from the 2014 Blue Jays?
The average response to this question in 2013 was 92. Jays fans are more pessimistic this year, but the predicted totals were not as low as I was expecting.
Low: 71 wins
High: 98 wins
Average: 82 wins
Thanks to everybody for fiilling out the ballot. Good luck with your picks!
Check back for a mid-season update and an end-of-season results column.