It’s been that kind of season for the Toronto Blue Jays and their star right fielder Jose Bautista. Despite having a roster that should have been been capable of competing in the stacked AL East, baseball’s lone international team finds itself in last place with a 56-70 record as the final month of the season approaches. After four straight seasons of fourth place finishes, Toronto is in danger of faring even worse this year.
Bautista, who ranks second among Blue Jay position players in WAR (3.1) despite appearing in just 92 of the team’s 126 games to date, saw only a few games of action since being recalled from the disabled list before experiencing continued issues with his left wrist.
The 31-year-old is hitting .241/.358/.527 with 27 home runs on the season, numbers that were quickly going up despite a slow start. Bautista was particularly hot in June, slugging 14 homers in that month alone. Issues with the wrist have taken a toll on his second half numbers, however, and it’s now unclear as to whether or not he will return at any point in 2012.
In regards to the Blue Jays season, Bautista may as well take his time and ensure he gets fully recovered. With the Red Sox entering a brief rebuilding phase, the Blue Jays will have one less team to contend with in their effort to challenge for the division crown in 2013, and a healthy Joey Bats will be a vital component in that process. At 17 games back in the AL East and 13 games back in the Wild Card race, next year is about the only thing Toronto has left to play for.