Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Extra Wild Card in 2012: What it Does and Doesn't Mean to the Blue Jays

It was recently reported by Ken Rosenthal that an extra wild card team is all but done in being added for the 2012 MLB season. My initial reactions were something along the lines of oh my god and were not unlike the opening of that first present on Christmas morning as a child. You feel a sense of excitement and that rush of new things until you realize you just opened that present from Grandma with only socks inside, thanks Grandma. In this case it seems somewhat similar. On one hand you have the right to be pretty damn excited that your favourite team is one step closer to the playoffs, but on the other hand in the grand scheme of things does it really make that much of a difference.

Of course the adding of an extra wild card spot for 2012 is a fantastic addition to the Blue Jays playoff chances, but it seems like some are still forgetting about the other potentially unsurpassable bumps in the road. For one the Blue Jays play in the always tough AL East, but also in the incredibly difficult American League and are the Blue Jays really ready to take that next step, even with an extra wild card team.

In the East you always have the big three in the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Rays. In the Central you have the now Fielderful Tigers. Last, but not least in the West you have the Rangers and the now playoff ready Angels.

In the old scenario it looked almost impossible for the Blue Jays to make the playoffs in 2012 without significant leaps and bounds taken by multiple players on the team because the Jays would have had to pass two of the beasts of the east.  Now in the new scenario it looks more likely that they will have make the playoffs but what you have to realize is that instead of having to overtake two of the beasts in the east, the Jays will have to overcome one, but also likely one of the Texas Rangers or Los Angeles Angels and they aren't half bad either.

The Rangers, well they're the Rangers, not only have they been the American League representative in the World Series for back to back years, but they also got arguably the best pitcher on the market outside of C.C. Sabathia in Yu Darvish. The Angels, usually an afterthought in wild card consideration, got not even arguably but instead thee best hitter on the market in Albert Pujols and then the second best free agent pitcher in C.J. Wilson. As well what many don't seem to realize the Angels are the same team that finished only 5 games out of a wild card spot.

Looking further into it Replacement Level Yankees who run the CAIRO projection system ran a couple of projected standings using both their system as well as that of Tom Tango who runs the Marcel system. Using the CAIRO projection system they projected the Blue Jays 2012 record to be 78-84 and gave them a 4.1% chance of making the playoffs, which includes a 2.6% increase from the added second wild card spot. In another post using the Marcel projection system they projected the Jays record to be the exact same as 2011 at 81-81 and gave them a 16.7% chance of making the playoffs, which includes a pretty substantial 6.8% jump from the added wild card spot.

These two numbers may seem at the very least somewhat promising, but the two posts also include a couple playoff chance percentages for some of the competitors. CAIRO puts the playoff chances of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays at anywhere from 64.4% for the Rays to a whopping 84.8% for the Yanks and Marcel similarly has the percentages at anywhere from 57.1% for the Rays to 76.0% for the Yankees. At the lowest point the next best team in the AL East, the Rays, still has a 3 times better chance to make the playoffs than your team and mine the Toronto Blue Jays.

To beat the next best team in the CAIRO projected wild card standings the Jays would have to somehow gain another 13 wins beyond CAIRO's Blue Jays projections, which aren't too pessimistic. Even to beat the next best team in the Marcel projected standings, which have the Blue Jays being much better in 2012 than the CAIRO system, the Jays would somehow need to muster up another 6 wins.

That number may not seem like a whole lot, but for the Jays to increase their win total by 6 wins that would have to mean something along the lines of Colby Rasmus returning to 2010 form and Travis Snider finally becoming what he could now realistically be. That is a lot to happen and even that's no guarantee that the Jays would make the playoffs because anything could happen with the other three teams fighting for the two playoff spots.

In the end the reality is with a still improving team and an unbalanced schedule for the 2012 season it doesn't seem like the added wild card spot will give the Jays the extra push they need. It may make you and I as fans feel better about the Blue Jays and it will surely sell some extra tickets. But unfortunately it isn't as if the Jays only have to overcome one one great team instead of two, all that seems to have happened is that one less beast of the east has been transferred to having to beat one of the best in the west.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't be excited for the 2012 season because the Jays will still have a very exciting team and a player with 80 grade watchability in Brett Lawrie. If anything it should just make you more excited for what is to come in 2013 and beyond when the Blue Jays sustained success really figures to begin. And if you're really a believer be excited for 2012 and really think the Jays can make the playoffs don't let me or any other blogger suppress that, because hey stranger things have happened.

Sources: Baseball Reference, Replacement Level Yankees, FOX Sports

Monday, 27 February 2012

My Plea for Kyle Drabek

Photo by sillygwailo licensed under Creative Commons
It has come to my attention through the poll on this site and what seems to be the general opinion of Jays fans that of the four troubling players listed Drabek is the least likely to have a comeback season and I ask why? It may seems so long ago, but it has only been one year since Kyle Drabek was the top prospect in the Blue Jays farm system and a shining star in the Blue Jays future plans. At that time Drabek ranked anywhere from No. 13 by Keith Law to No. 29 by Baseball America on their respective top prospect lists.

Heading in to Spring Training in 2011, Drabek was the next big thing, the possible first fruition of the trade that sent former Blue Jays Ace Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and the first tangible major league talent from Alex Anthopoulos' regime as general manager. He was all but handed a rotation spot after the Jays traded Shaun Marcum to the Brewers and he seemed to be ready to take it.

Obviously we would later learn that Drabek would not turn in the best of seasons in 2011 and I don't think I need to paint the entire picture of just how bad Drabek really was. All I have to say is that in almost a consensus opinion the simple stats, advanced stats, and Pitch F/X information all agree on one thing, Kyle Drabek sucked.

At this point in the blog post I usually point out what Drabek did wrong and how he can improve and all that, but in this case Drabek's problem is pretty simple and the fact is that he just couldn't throw strikes. Drabek was putting pitches galore outside the zone and in fact at the time of his demotion in June Drabek had walked more batters than he had struck out and was the not so proud owner of the league's worst strikeout to walk ratio.

Proceeding his demotion to AAA Las Vegas in June things just got worse. Being sent to the band box that is Cashman Field and the very definition of a hitter's league in the PCL obviously didn't help, but even against a much worse level of competition Drabek did not perform as he was expected to. Because of a lack of AAA Pitch F/X data no one (unless they saw him) can really discern specifically whether he wasn't throwing strikes there either, but what one does know is that in AAA he held a relatively similar strikeout to walk ratio and that is in no way a good thing.

In spite of all that has happened, Drabek's failure in the majors and minors is not completely indicative of what he could do in 2012. In general it is true that numbers and statistics from previous years can be used as a predictor for future performance. The difference with Drabek is for one what he has done thus far is a smallish sample size and there is not enough previous data to rely on, for another as is often cited with another Blue Jay, Travis Snider, Drabek is only 23 and going in to his sophomore season in the MLB.

Courtesy of Shi Davidi on Twitter
Yes he may have strugggled in 2011 and yes that is not a good thing to see out of a rookie, but a quick read of Shi Davidi's story on Drabek at seems to suggest to us that it may have been partially a mechanical issue with Drabek in 2011 and oddly enough I find it plausible to believe.

I may just be drinking the Spring Training story Kool-Aid in which every player is in the best shape of their lives, but looking at some 2011 footage of Drabek he seemed to me to be a little inconsistent in his mechanics and this article seemingly confirms that thought. In no way am I claiming to be a scout here, but if what Shi Davidi tells us is true then it could have been a big reason as to why Drabek looked like Tim Tebow on the mound.

Now with the Jays coaching staff addressing the issue, call me crazy, but maybe instead of being pushed into irrelevance, could Drabek surprise this year? He still seems to have the stuff that in 2010 Keith Law said could make Drabek "a No. 2 or 3 starter", but is lacking the command and third pitch that Law said he needed to improve on in 2011. The good thing is command can be taught and can be learned and it looks like it may come with further instruction, tweaking in pitch mechanics, and just more major league innings. The bad thing is it may not come this season.

With that said I'm not completely sure why I think Drabek will do well, but I do. He may no longer be the flavour of the month as that position seems to have been overtaken by Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to perform.  As well as I'm sure you already know because its been said 1000 times, but the pitcher that got the Blue Jays Kyle Drabek in the first place, Roy Halladay, similarly had command problems early in his career and look what he became. Not to say that Drabek will become Halladay though, because that simply doesn't seem feasible, but don't give up on Drabek just yet.

I know that usually the arguments on this blog are fairly statistically based, but for whatever reason with Drabek I feel different. I feel like he has the potential to be what the scouting reports say rather than the major league statistics, I feel like he can overcome the two pitchers ahead of him on the depth chart. Nonetheless if you don't have the same feelings as I towards the great Drabek, then at least realize that Drabek has barely pitched for a season and we've already lost confidence in him? It isn't like he got significantly injured or lost a lot of fastball velocity, the stuff seems to be there he just needs to harness it.

In the end there isn't nearly enough statistical evidence to back up any opinion suggesting that Drabek's potential is completely gone, so why not wait and see. To my dismay it seems like Drabek won't get the call come Opening Day, but as happens with pitchers they get injured or pitch poorly and Drabek looks like he could be first on the list to replace, in other words the pitching version of Mike McCoy (Hopefully Drabek doesn't acquire quite as many Air Miles). Finally if you refuse to believe in anything I've said at least remember this, last season you didn't see any major prospect sites suggesting Drabek was a worse prospect than current Blue Jays Canadian phenom Brett Lawrie, just saying.

Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Sportsnet, Baseball America, ESPN

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Breaking Down Adam Lind

Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind (26)
Courtesy of Keith Allison licensed under Creative Commons
If you have been on the site in the past couple of weeks you may have noticed the poll in the sidebar asking you fans which player you think will most likely have a bounce back season in 2012 with the options being Travis Snider, Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, and Kyle Drabek. As well you also may know a couple of weeks ago I mused about Travis Snider and what the future may hold for such a peculiar player. To continue on in the list this week the post will go over Adam Lind and what the future may hold for him.

Before last year Adam Lind was the exact type of player both Blue Jays fans and fantasy baseball gurus alike expected to make a comeback performance. From a fantasy perspective that comeback performance was definitely prevalent with Lind having been among the leagues elite in terms of RBIs before his back injury that occurred in May, but on a hitting level did Lind really start the year strong?

His RBI total may make you think otherwise, but according to wRC+ Lind wasn't even an above average hitter in April. Instead he hit to a 99 wRC+ (average is 100) and was even below the likes of Corey Patterson (Ugh). The RBI total was instead a result of the fact that the hitter in front of Lind at that point, Jose Bautista, was the best hitter in the league and was getting on base more than 50% of the time. If I was in Lind's position, I bet even I could have gotten a few RBIs.

Once you look at the season as whole it really doesn't become any more impressive. Yes, Lind did up his home run total to 26, but he also he also produced a sub .300 OBP and an fWAR that ranked 4th last among qualified first basemen. As you can plainly see those are not good numbers and they probably don't warrant any praise. Instead all the 2011 season has done is make the 2009 season seem more of an outlier and the 2012 season that much more difficult to project.

For starters where does one lay the blame for the lack of production. Obviously Lind hasn't gotten back to the 35 home runs he hit in 2009, nor has he reached his .305 batting average, but most importantly Lind hasn't reached the .370 OBP and 8.9 BB% that he had in 2009. Since that wondrous year Lind hasn't mustered enough to get within 75 points of that OBP and his best walk rate is just a little more than half of his 2009 numbers.

What is the reason for this? A change in approach? Maybe. Poor hitting skills? Another possibility, but most interestingly though is that when looking at some of the Pitch F/X plate discipline stats on Lind's FanGraphs page one thing that stood out was Lind's O-Swing%. Last year his O-Swing% had a small uptick to 35.9%, which is roughly a couple percent above his 2010 stats and quite a bit above his 2009 ones and that is precisely where the concern lies.

In comparison, in 2009 Lind's O-Swing% was the lowest of his career and by a pretty wide margin. That year Lind managed to resist many outside pitches  and put up a 27.9 O-Swing%, a number that is more than 5% off his career average. For the pitches Lind did swing at outside the strike zone, he made contact with over 3/4 of them and put up a percentage that is again much better than his career average. Additionally in 2011 Lind posted the lowest Zone% of his career at 46.9%, essentially meaning pitchers are giving Lind more pitches outside the zone, but as shown with his O-Swing% he is still swinging at the pitches, that is never a good thing. The graphics below give you a better representation.
Pitches Lind swung at in 2009
Pitches Lind swung at in 201
The difference does not seem to be too large at first glance, but if you really look at the two graphics you can see the change between 2009 and 2011. In the 2009 graphic the pitches are more concentrated on the middle with fewer swings outside the zone, while on the other hand in the 2011 graphic the pitches swing at are less concentrated in the middle and more are outside the zone. More than anything you can see how Lind's batting eye has changed be it a result of approach or regression, they both end the same.

Specifically one thing though that is noticeable in the statistics is Lind's consistent decrease in pitches per plate appearance. In 2009 Lind saw an average of 4.03 pitches per plate appearance or P/PA. In 2010 that same number dropped to 3.81 and in 2011 it was a lowly 3.54, not a good trend. What I believe to be the reasoning behind the drop is a clear change in first pitch approach. Through some Pitch F/X calculations it was found that in 2009 Lind swung at 15.2% of first pitches, in 2010 that number almost doubled to 29.2% and in 2011 it remained for the most part unchanged at 28.2%.

In 2009 when Lind got more pitches thrown to him he was able to have more success because he could wait for the pitch he wanted, but in 2011 seeing less pitches did not afford him that luxury. More than anything what all of this alludes to is most likely one of two things, either Lind has been told to swing more at pitches he likes or he simply lacks the batting eye that he had in 2009. I'm willing to bet the its a combination of the two based on some of his contact rates and swing percentages, but whatever the case it will effect Lind going forward.

If Lind has the same batting eye and approach in 2012 that he has had the past two years you likely won't see too much improvement. The batting average will presumably come up a little from where it was in 2011 because his BABIP suggests he was at the least somewhat unlucky, but beyond that I don't know how you can expect more. Some people may tell you that Adam Lind was hindered by his back injury and that he will easily bounce back to form in 2012, but in 2010 Lind had little to no injury problems and still sucked and this year his best hitting month came the month after he got back from his injury.

In order for Lind to truly get back to his peak season he will have to more of what he did in 2009. That would include swinging at less pitches outside the zone, waiting for his pitch, regaining some opposite field power and much more. Those changes would presumably be able to propel Lind to great heights, but with the 2009 season being the only one in which Lind excelled at all three of those areas it isn't looking good for 2012.

Despite the objective evidence I'm sure you will still see some believers, but I'm not one of them. I'm also not one to suggest the Jays should have signed Pujols or Fielder to replace Lind, but when a certain Torontonian *cough* Joey Votto *cough* comes on the trade market or to free agency I'd bet an improving Jays team takes a shot at him. Until then I'm guessing we will have to live with an underachieving bat at a prime offensive position, with our only hope the prospect of obtaining Votto and Farrell's realization that Lind is not a #3 or #4 hitter.

Stat Definitions: FanGraphs Glossary

Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Texas Leaguers, ESPN

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Anthopoulos Method

Today's Keith Law released his Top 100 Prospects List (Insider Req'd) as well as his Top 10 by organization. The Top 100 included five Jays minor leaguers with one even ranking in the Top 10, but that isn't really what this post is about. Instead may I point you to the farm system rankings (Insider Req'd) that Law posted on on Wednesday . In his post Law praised the Jays aggressiveness in the draft and international free agency and eventually ranked them at #3.

This ranking got me thinking because throughout the Ricciardi era the Blue Jays were never really considered to have a "good" farm system by any means. In fact the year before present GM Alex Anthopoulos took over J.P. Ricciardi had led the Jays to the #18 spot on Law's 2009 farm system rankings and at #19 on Baseball America's version. In the few years since the overhaul AA has managed to bolt the Jays from middle of the pack to a top end with potential for more. Specifically Law states in his write up "They are the organization most likely to be No. 1 on this list next winter."

In 2009 when Alex Anthopoulos took over as General Manager as the Blue Jays he had a bit of a head start for the farm system and that would be Roy Halladay. At the time Halladay did boast the 9th highest fWAR in baseball, but Anthopoulos was still limited in his destinations. For one thing Roy Halladay wanted to go a contender and for another in order to obtain maximum value Anthopoulos had to be trading with a team that was assured an extension with Halladay. These two filters and the fact that AA likely didn't want to trade the ace within the division really limited the destination to Philidelphia.

Despite all odds against him Anthopoulos impressively managed to get in return three prospects ranked in Baseball America's 2010 Top 100 with Kyle Drabek at #25, Michael Taylor at #29, and Travis d'Arnaud at #81. Of course later that year Taylor was swapped for Brett Wallace and at the trade deadline in 2010 Wallace was swapped for current Blue Jays prospect Anthony Gose.

The development of the prospects since the trade has had its highs and its lows. Drabek may have had a poor showing in the big leagues last year, but he still has the talent to be a solid starter. To go along with him are d'Arnaud who ranked in the top 10 on Law's 2012 list and and whom he said could "... turn out to be real impact player acquired by Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade" and Gose whom ranked just out of Law's Top 50. If Drabek regains form and d'Arnaud and and Gose develop as expected this trade could look eerily similar to the one that got the Braves Mark Teixeira. In that trade the Texas Rangers obtained three current Rangers in Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, and Matt Harrison, as well as now Boston Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Beyond the Roy Halladay trade Anthopoulos had to create a new direction for the club. He overhauled the entire draft and international free agency strategy that had been left by Ricciardi and for good reason. During Ricciardi's tenure 75% of the players drafted in the first five rounds were college players and only two [Edit: players drafted in the first round] in the eight years were from high school. One of those two players, Travis Snider, one of only two Blue Jays players to make the Top 10 in Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects during Ricciardi's tenure.

Since then Anthopoulos has changed it such that over 75% of the players drafted in the first five rounds have been high school players essentially reversing the trend. This means that rather than the safe college picks of the past the Jays are pushing for high end talent. Much of this change was due to an increase in emphasis on draft spending as evidenced by the roughly $3.7 million that the Jays spent in Ricciardi's last year and the average of $11.3 million that they have spent in the two years since.

To go along with the trade talent infusion and the higher draft spending the Blue Jays spent a load on international talent. During Ricciardi's the Jays had a presence in Latin America, but were not spending to the extent the Jays have in the past two years. In 2010 the Blue Jays spent $2.8 million on Venezuelan right hander Adonys Cardona and in 2011 they spent $3.00 million on Roberto Osuna two of the higher profile international signings in the past two years. As well in 2010 the Jays spent $10 million over four years for Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.

The emphasis on Latin American talent has surely developed a brand of sorts in the Latin American market. With the new CBA in place and it capping the amount that can be spent on players in International free agency it was important for the Jays to develop themselves in the market as a team that a player wants to be on. That means that in the future when two teams are offering same or similar bonuses the Jays may have established themselves a slight advantage.

On the whole with Anthopoulos the Blue Jays plan has obviously been to obtain high upside talent. You as a fan can consider this a good thing or a bad thing, but first realize this. Last year there were 46 players whose fWAR 5.0 or higher in the MLB, 67% of them were with the team that developed them. Of those 46 players another 20% were with a team that traded for them. That means a total of 87% of the top end players in the MLB were either developed as a prospect or acquired in trade through prospects.

In contrast, last season there were 244 players whom had a fWAR between 1.0 and 2.0. Those "role players" are the kind of players that are more often obtained through lesser draft and international free agent spending. They are also the same kind of players who can most often be bought on the free agent market for less than $10 million dollars.

That means to all of the fans criticizing Anthopoulos for his method should maybe step back just a little. Despite what you may believe Alex Anthopoulos is a smart man and he knows what he is doing. He has developed a system that may be hindered by the new CBA, but the farm system that he has spent millions of dollars on and the system that he has created will continue to pay dividends.

Because as was stated before the Jays farm system ranked at #3 on Keith Law's farm system rankings, with him also saying that "they are the organization most likely to be No. 1 on this list next winter." The reason? Behind this top end level of talent the Blue Jays have lies more players in the lower minors like Cardona and Osuna who in a couple of years could be in the same position that d'Arnaud and Hutchison are.

If you still aren't convinced consider this, a similar high upside system was employed by the Rangers in years past and well look at where they are now. Just some food for thought.

Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MLB Draft History, ESPN

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Curious Case of Travis Snider

Photo by SillyGwaillo licensed under Creative Commons
Travis Snider is a peculiar player, one who recently has me pondering how we can project his future. He wasn't necessarily a "super high" draft pick having only been selected at #14, but he also wasn't really a dreamer prospect with all tools and no polish. Nonetheless he was a high school player and a high risk high reward talent who in 2008 looked to be the Blue Jays next big thing. Since then things have changed and we have definitely seen Snider take a turn for the worst. Now he has pushed himself into the category of the top prospect who hasn't panned out, making it particularly interesting to project what he can become.

Back in 2009 in his Blue Jays Top 11 Prospects list Kevin Goldstein said that "[Snider] has to move to first base... but he's certainly going to hit." Since then things have definitely changed. Fortunately for one thing Snider shouldn't have to worry about a move to first base anymore because the Blue Jays were confident enough about his athleticism that they started him in CF for 6 games. But also unfortunately Snider's hitting has also changed, but not in a good way as evidenced by the descending batting average since his initial season with the Jays. Though interestingly enough Snider's contact rate has increased, and his outside the zone swing percentage has decreased. Theoretically he should be hitting better, but just isn't producing. Despite all that going forward things can always shift and Snider has the talent to be better, he just hasn't produced. The question though would be is the talent going to show now or later.

For this bust prospect conundrum Alex Gordon has often been pointed to as a guy where it "worked out", but what you don't see at first glance is that it "worked out" after 1641 major league plate appearances a number that Snider would need two more full seasons to reach. Of course he is still young, but the Jays have all but burned up Snider's options. The time to give Snider playing time was the past three years when the Jays really didn't look like they were contending and could have milked out everything Snider had to offer. Instead Snider has gotten a grand total of 797 PA, which equates to just over one full season of plate appearances.

This has put Travis Snider in a rather unique situation, he doesn't have a whole lot of options because he has yet to spend a full season in the majors, but he also doesn't have that much playing time because he has been injured and is repeatedly sent down when he performs poorly. You might be asking why I'm questioning a demotion after a poor performance, but with any player of Snider's potential you wait and see what he can do rather than stuffing him in the minors.

In fact if you look at the chart to the left it shows that Travis Snider has the third least number of plate appearances in the first three years of the player's career of any top 20 outfield prospects in the past decade. One might point out the fact that Michael Cuddyer and BJ Upton are down there with Snider as a reason for hope and it is, but if you look at the other players around them like Joe Borchard, Lastings Milledge and Austin Kearns, you gain some more perspective.

Not to say that this means too much because all of these guys have been limited in their initial MLB experience because of many different reasons such as injury and Super Two status. Nonetheless I find the chart interesting, but it also makes it difficult to understand why the Blue Jays haven't given Snider more of a chance. When Alex Gordon was first brought into the majors he was given two full seasons before he was sent down, why wasn't Snider afforded the same luxury? Well for one the Jays "thought" they were contending and another they had a bit of a logjam in the outfield, but Snider is the kind of player you make room for, especially when winning is somewhat of an unrealistic expectation.

In spite of that one cannot change the past, but only look forward to the future, but because of the past the future is that much harder to predict. By this I mean now there is another roadblock in Snider's career and its name is Eric Thames. Thames is the other young outfielder on the 25 man roster and since neither is likely to get enough at-bats as a back up one will have to be traded or demoted to AAA. Although Snider is the more highly touted prospect, but Thames did have the better season statistically  in 2011 and therefore likely has the casual fans vote going forward.

This is all evidenced in the various projection systems as most don't think Snider will get a full season in the majors. Bill James has Snider at 239 PA in 2012, RotoChamp thinks it will be 270, FanGraphs fans have it at 394, ZiPS is at 514, and last but not least CAIRO guesses 283. Of course I would like to see Snider get a full season in the majors even if it is at the expense of Eric Thames, but I tend to side with Bill James in thinking that it probably won't happen. Though if it did what could come of Travis Snider?

The chart right is an aggregate projection for Travis Snider taking together all the projections (Well the ones I use at least) and calculating the average. As you can probably tell it seems pretty pessimistic, but unfortunately is a realistic prediction. The reasoning being that the way most of these projections work is that they are on a regression system or one that looks at players in similar positions. The issue though is that because the talent that Snider possesses he could break out at any time. We saw it with Alex Gordon, Justin Upton and others in 2011 and it could (I use that term loosely) be Snider in 2012 if he's given the chance.

Again in the same 2009 Blue Jays Top 11 Prospects list Kevin Goldstein said that Snider's perfect world projection is "... the third hitter in the Blue Jay's lineup, a perennial All-Star, and an occasional MVP candidate." At this point it is unlikely that Snider will reach his offensive ceiling which Goldstein predicted to be "a high average and well above average power."  That ceiling would likely look something like a .280 average with 30+ home runs, but at this point with all the setbacks that might be a tad unrealistic. Instead I would optimistically say that there's no reason Snider can't be a .270 hitter with say 25 home runs, I just don't think it will happen this year, which could be the problem.

If this year Snider again doesn't produce and if the Jays expect to be contenders in 2013 then they may be inclined to go another direction. That could be an ingenious decision or the biggest bonehead move of the decade (On second thought almost nothing can beat the signing of the Vernon Wells contract), but if recent history tells us anything it looks more likely to be the former. Looking at the chart with all the top 20 outfield prospects from the past decade most turned out to be pretty successful eventually. Granted there are some of the names that pop out as busts, but most because of injury and other non-talent related aspects.

Whatever the eventual decision be, I as a Travis Snider fan can only hope that at the very least the Blue Jays give him this season to attempt to be the player he was once projected to become. If he flops in 2012 well then I don't think that the Jays will continue with in 2013, but at the very least they would be able to say that they tried to recover the player that once was the 6th best prospect in major league baseball.

Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Prospectus