If you were a general manager and you had on your roster a player in his sixth year in the majors putting up these numbers (336 AB, 54 R, 13 HR, 40 RBI, .235 AVG, .349 OBP, and .408 SLG), what would you project for his next year?

What if you were to make him a starter on your roster and give him somewhere between 500 and 600 at-bats? 

What if that player, given more playing time, would gain more confidence in his skills, develop a better eye at the plate, and improve the consistency with his power stroke?

Would you ever guess that player would lead the major leagues in home runs with 37, be third in the league with 87 RBI, 12th in runs scored, improve his OBP by 25 points, and up his SLG by 191 points?

It would seem safe to say that most people would not have predicted Jose Bautista’s breakout year, except perhaps himself. It would also seem to be in safe territory to suggest that the Blue Jays organization is rather happy about the emergence of Bautista as one of the premier power hitters in the league.

What this means for the Jays team is that they have one more threat in their lineup that opposing pitchers would prefer not to face. 

Bautista fits right into a lineup that has developed this year into an offensive powerhouse, and one that has slowly adapted throughout the year.

If you watched the Blue Jays at the beginning of the season, it was impressive how badly they could dismantle a pitcher with their power when the bats were hot. The problem was when they faced a pitcher who was on his game, the long ball became hard to come by, and the offence fizzled.

With the acquisition of Fred Lewis and Yunel Escobar, and the recent improvement shown by Adam Lind and Aaron Hill, the Jays have begun to adapt and figure out other ways to win ball games. They have started to steal, advance runners with bunts and sacrifice flies, and improve their discipline at the plate to get on base.

Of course, they haven’t abandoned the long ball, as they still lead the league in home runs with 183.

In the last 30 days, Lind has hit .313 with five HRs and 13 RBI, an impressive improvement on his first half production. Hill has hit .270 with five HRs and 14 RBI in that same time span. Escobar, the Blue Jays’ new shortstop, has gone .305 with three HR and 10 RBI over the past month.

With the way the Blue Jays are hitting right now, is it any wonder that the leading teams in the American League East are watching their backs? It is still rather premature to suggest that the Jays have any chance to creep up the rankings in time to slip into the wild card spot, but what about next year?

What if you combine the resurgence of Lind, Hill, and Escobar with a consistent Vernon Wells and a new slugging leader in Bautista? Then you add in Travis Snider and J.P. Arencibia, two highly touted youths who have put up impressive numbers in the minors. Snider has hit eight HRs and knocked in 21 RBI in just 161 AB, and Arencibia showed the high end of his potential when he went 4-for-5 in his debut with two HR.

This roster, complemented by players like Fred Lewis, Lyle Overbay, and Edwin Encarnacion, could challenge this year if everything goes right. More importantly, though, the Blue Jays’ batting next year could finally once again have the pieces to vault them into the playoffs and be contenders for the foreseeable future.

This is a complementary piece to “Why the Blue Jays’ Pitching Could Push Team into Playoff Contention” that I wrote on August 15th.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com