Jays From the Couch will determine whether Blue Jays Chris Colabello’s 2015 was a fluke and whether he’ll succeed in 2016
It’s tough to list Chris Colabello as a ‘Make or Break’ candidate. How can a guy who hit .321 with 15HR and is paid the league minimum, be considered a ‘Make or Break’ candidate?
This article will review Chris Colabello’s 2015 stats and predictions made by a pair of predictive systems in an attempt to determine whether Colabello will ‘Make’ or ‘Break’ in 2016.
Many Colabello critics point to his BABIP to explain his success in 2015 and why Blue Jays shouldn’t expect a repeat performance in 2016.
Chris Colabello spent the better part of 10 years as a major league hopeful before getting a chance to play for the Minnesota Twins in 2013. With the Twins, Colabello got off to hot starts in 2013 and 2014, but couldn’t keep it going.
After producing an OPS of .827 with 3 home runs and 27 RBI in the first 24 games of 2014 an injured thumb, which he keep secret, made it very painful to swing a bat. This injury and slump got him sent to the bench and later to the minors.
Former Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos took a chance on Colabello picking him off the waiver wire on December 8th, 2014, from Minnesota. Many viewed it as a good minor league depth move, myself included, but never thought Colabello would see time in Toronto.
After spending the first month with the Blue Jays Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, Toronto called Colabello called to the majors at the beginning of May and he quickly made it impossible to send him back down, hitting .368 with a .986 OPS, 4 home runs and 14 RBI.
Getting his bat in the lineup was a challenge. With a hole in LF, Colabello was thrust into a position that he’s not well suited to play, but at least he was getting a chance to play. After solid June Chris saw his playing time become inconsistent in July which caused him to slump, hitting .224 in 17 games.
Fortunately for Colabello the slump didn’t carry over to August, as he caught fire with the rest of the team after a flurry of trades transformed the team into a playoff contender. Chris would have his best month with a 1.118 OPS, 4 home runs, 10 RBI and slugged .705. He did all this while playing only 16 games, his lowest game total of any month in 2015.
At 31-yrs-old, Colabello found consistency, health, and a chance to play. His first half triple slash line, .325/.371/.500, was followed by an equally impressive, .315/.360/.551 2nd half, while splitting time between 1st (32GP), OF (46GP), and DH (12).
Colabello enjoyed playing against American League East opponents.
- Boston Red Sox- .327 BA, 2 HR, 9 RBI
- Baltimore Orioles- .361 BA, 1 RBI
- NY Yankees- .440 BA, 2 RBI
- Tampa Bay Rays- .320 BA, 3 HR, 7 RBI
This consistency against divisional rivals and his .323 batting average, 7 HR and .896 OPS at the Rogers Centre make it hard to imagine much of a regression.
The native of Framingham, MA, will need to battle fellow 1st baseman Justin Smoak for at-bats, but if he can generate anything close to his .411 BABIP and continue making good contact (25.2 LD%) then Colabello should come close to his 2015 stats.
Looking at the 2016 projections from Fans and Steamer from Fangraphs.com, Toronto fans can expect a drop in Colabello’s numbers.
- Fans- 105GB, 109H, 21 doubles, 13 HR, 48 RBI, .279 BA while producing above league average with a good .332 wOBA.
- Steamer- 298 AB, 78H, 15 doubles, 13 HR, 43 RBI, .262 BA, and .330 wOBA.
Both systems predict that CC will produce in 2016; however, I think that these predictions are a little on the safe side.
Colabello will ‘Make’ and not ‘Break’ this season. If Colabello is given regular playing time he will hit close to 20 home runs, and drive in 70+ RBI while batting in the middle of the order. Despite seeing some regression to his batting average, Colabello will maintain his contact rate which will allow him to utilize his power potential.
Another strong season by Colabello could make it easier for Blue Jays new management to allow Edwin Encarnacion to walk via free-agency at the end of 2016. After all, CC will enter his first abr years in the 2017 off-season.
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Bart Hanlon UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.