Yes, we were all a bit disappointed in Jay Bruce’s first full season with the Reds. It wasn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination, and I’m still excited about his future…but I think we all hoped for a bit more.

Want a reason to be excited about Bruce’s potential for a big season in 2010? Well, you’ve come to the right place. First, Mark Sheldon reports on Bill James’ projections from The Bill James Handbook 2010. Several are interesting:

–Joey Votto: .311, 27 HR, 90 RBI, 947 OPS. (Ummm…I’d take that line in a heartbeat.)

–Todd Frazier: .278, 17 HR, 69 RBI, 807 OPS. (If I were convinced that Frazier could put up those numbers, I would trade Brandon Phillips or move him to SS immediately. That’s better than the 756 OPS projected for BP, although you have to consider BP’s amazing defense in that analysis.)

–Jay Bruce: .274, 38 HR, 95 RBI, 877 OPS.

I’m about to get too optimistic about this team’s chances in 2010. Someone reign me in; I should know better. That’s an outstanding line for Bruce, who is still younger than almost everyone in the majors. Think about that for a moment.

Recently, FanGraphs demonstrated some love for Bruce, as well. I’ve been meaning to post this, because it’s very interesting:

In all, 2009 would appear to be a lost year for the highly-touted right fielder. However, Bruce actually made a good deal of progress at the plate. Here are several reasons to believe in The Boss heading into 2010:

They listed several reasons; I’ll list those here, but you can go over to FanGraphs for their in-depth explanation on each bullet point.

–Age and minor league track record
–Improved plate discipline
–Improved contact rate
–Increased power production
–Poor luck

Their conclusion:

Jay Bruce has all the ingredients to be a superstar. In a “disappointing” year, he showed top-shelf power, improved strike-zone discipline and better contact ability. Fantasy owners aren’t going to get another chance to acquire The Boss with anything less than a premium draft pick. If at all possible, nab Bruce now, before he becomes a perennial first-rounder.

Forget the fantasy analysis, as far as I’m concerned. (I am playing fantasy football for the first time this year, and I’m not sure how fantasy baseball owners find the time to keep up with a team every day.) There are signs that Bruce is going to be the stud we all expected in 2010.

Keep those fingers crossed….

UPDATE: Steve reminds us of this Hardball Times article from the other day that I should’ve mentioned here. Read the entire piece (it’s pretty in-depth), but here’s the conclusion:

While at first glance, Jay Bruce’s 2009 season seems like a step back in his development, he actually made a number of significant improvements that will progress his career. He improved quite significantly in his strike zone judgment and selectivity, while also improving his fly ball tendencies. While wrist issues are always problematic for a hitter, he seems to have put these concerns to rest with a strong September. For 2010, expect a very different Jay Bruce, one who finally lives up to his No. 1 prospect billing. A .275-.285 average with 30 home runs doesn’t seem out of the question. If he is able to maintain his plate discipline gains, he could post an OPS in the .900s as well, with the high .900s a possibility and 1.000—while a reach—not out of the question. After such a poor 2009, he should go significantly lower than where his true value lies, so don’t be afraid to draft him earlier than his big board listing. For next year, watch his contact rate and O-swing percentage, as well as his line drive rate—as they go, so do Bruce. In the end, he looks to be a very good outfielder in 12-team mixed leagues, with an outside chance at stardom. Especially if you’re in a keeper league, don’t miss out on his 2010 season.