2011 2B Overall: .236/.322/.451, 27 HR
Third base was a bit of a revolving door for the Jays last year, with five players getting at least 25 games at the position, and none more than 43. The results were mixed, ranging from Bautista's terrific performance to the hapless flailing of Nix and McDonald. Overall, they cobbled together a middling season, with contact issues but lots of power.
Starter: Edwin Encarnacion
2011 line: 134 G, .272/.334/.453, 17 HR
I suppose Encarnacion could be classified as the starter. I covered him under the 1B, but looking purely how he performed at third, he was bad with the bat and worse with the glove.
John McDonald, Jayson Nix, Mike McCoy
2011 line: Are you sure these guys aren't pitchers???
After Encarnacion, 3B became a split between utility guys hitting under .200 with little power. Jayson Nix was the masher of the bunch, coming in at a whopping .175/.250/.325 with 4 HR while at the position. The defense wasn't an issue for these guys, but the offense was a black hole.
2011 Line: 149 G, .302/.447/.608, 43 HR
After suffering through a half season of weeping at the ineptitude at the hot corner, the Jays finally decided to shift Bautista over to 3B, and baseballs wept for mercy. I'll cover him more once I reach his primary position of RF, but he certainly fixed the hole at 3B. His shifting positions did open a hole in the OF, but a more palatable hole for Jays fans, as it gave an opportunity to give woth Thames and Snider playing time. Defensively, Bautista's more comfortably in the OF, but he played well in his limited time at third this year.
The Future Arrives:
2011 Line: 43 G, .293/.373/.580, 9 HR
An injury in the minors delayed Lawrie's debut, but once he arrived, he never looked back. He hit close to .300, he got on base, he showed both power and speed, and his defense at a new position was well beyond expectations. An injury cut his year short, but his performance while he was in Toronto gave the Jays a nice treat, and he became an instant fan favorite as a Canadian star.
For the foreseeable future, the position belongs to Lawrie. While expectations would be tempered a little - he probably won't slug .580, for instance - his bat's always been highly regarded, and with his defensive success at third, he should provide stability at a position that's often been a concern in recent years, and he has definite star potential. Consider this a position of strength.
The one concern I have about Lawrie is his durability. His injuries from 2011 don't look to be a concern going forward, but he's the type of player who plays hard, and may find himself on the DL on a somewhat regular basis due to his aggressive play.
There's not much to write about on the horizon at the position - Balbino Fuenmayer and Kevin Ahrens never really developed as they'd hoped, and to my knowledge, there's no one close enough or high enough profile to be on the radar yet. With Lawrie under team control for a while, there's not much point in trying to sort through fringe prospect to predict who might become serviceable in the near future.
Projection: .280/.360/.480, 22 HR, 16 SB.
He likely overachieved in limited playing time in 2011, but he looks like the real deal. If he stays healthy, he'll show above average power and speed, with a solid batting average and OBP. As long as his defense remains solid, that's a hell f a player.