After being called up in the middle of July, Jennings managed to keep his batting average above .300 for almost two months. Although Jennings collected major league time in 2010, the speedy outfielder exceeded expectations by far, before dropping off towards the end of the season. Many thought the 25 year old would collect at bats in his time with the Rays, but Jennings established himself as the starting left fielder from here on out.
When determining the number one hitter in a batting order, you obviously look for a high OBP and the ability to steal bases. Jennings does both of those things, with a solid walking rate of 10.8 % in 2011, and 20 stolen bases in only 63 games. Much like B.J. Upton, Jennings also provides the Rays with some power, hitting 10 home runs in a little over two months. Jennings and Upton are very similar players, but Jennings has the ability to get on base more often, making him the more dangerous player and better set for the top slot in the Rays lineup.
In his 2012 Handbook, Bill James predicts that Jennings will hit .267 with a .347 OBP and 17 home runs, while stealing 47 bases. As Jennings continues his improvement, it doesn’t seem unlikely that he could hit over that mark, somewhere around .280, while maintaining a high OBP. Although it seems nice to think that Jennings may hit 17 homeruns, 2011 was the first year in his professional career that the Alabama native hit over ten homeruns. We estimate that his number will be a little bit below 17, around the 15 mark, although it seems likely that he could continue his power surge. Jennings also certainly has the speed to reach that stolen bases mark of 47, which would have ranked fourth among all major leaguers in 2011, and with the protection of BJ Upton behind him he could possibly even exceed that number to somewhere in the lower 50’s.