Originally written on The Southpaw  |  Last updated 5/8/12

[Note: the following is a guest post written exclusively for The Southpaw. The views expressed are not necessarily identical to my own. ~Tammy]

We are close to 30 games into the 2012 major league season and the Jays are hanging tough at 3 games above .500.  Considering the lineup, the Jays are doing pretty good. Today, I thought that I would take a look at the niners for the Jays as well as their main backups and whether the Jays are making the best choice.

Brett Lawrie earned the job at 3rd last year after batting .293 and having a OBP of .373.  His fielding could have been better, but as long as Edwin Encarnacion remains the 2nd best 3rd baseman on the club, Lawrie's job should be safe.

Second and short are strong with Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar.  Omar Vizquel is the backup for both positions at present and the 23 year veteran fits perfectly in this role.  He obviously isn't the same player that he used to be, but he is still a solid fielder and his experience will help both players he backs up grow.

When it comes to who plays the catcher for the Jays, they are damned if they do and damned if they don't.  Their best option, J.P. Arencibia is only in his 2nd year and is hitting .234 this year.  His backup, Jeff Mathis, is batting a little better this year at .250 but is a career .195 hitter over 7 years and has never played more than 94 game in a season in his career.  Arencibia played 122 games last year alone.

Jose Batista is taking care of the right field, so no need to even discuss that.  Eric Thames had a solid rookie campaign last year and earned the starting job in left field this year.  His .268 average this season has been solid for the club.  Ben Francisco is a solid backup at this position with a career .332 OBP and .260 career average.

Center field is really the one weak area of the outfield with Colby Rasmus and his anemic .210 average so far this season.  His backup, Rajai Davis, is actually a little better fielder in my opinion, but batting below the Mendoza line is something I believe that is keeping  him out the starting lineup.  If Davis could pick up his numbers, Rasmus will likely get relegated to backup.

Looking at DH and first base, you have to look at the total package of a player in that spot.  Adam Lind has a better career batting average over Edwin Encarnacion, but beyond that stat, he falls short in almost every category.  The biggest stat that sticks out to me is their OBP where Encarnacion leads with a career .336 OBP against a career .315 for Lind.  However, fielding wise, Lind is the clear leader with just 4 errors last season over 109 games.  As such, I agree with sticking Lind at first and Encarnacion at DH.  Encarnacion has never been that great of a fielder, so backup is the best fit for him as a fielder.

Selecting the right players is parallel to having the right play in a poker game.  If you don't make the right moves or the best decisions at the table, you will end up losing all your chips quickly.  In baseball, not looking at the whole picture with your players will win up causing holes in both your offense and defense and over the course of the season, this will lose games for the team.

Overall, I think the Jays are doing the best with what they have.  Hopefully some of the players that are slumping can pick up their numbers so that the Jays can at least make a run at this thing.  Otherwise, we may be looking at the wrong side of .500 sooner rather than later.

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