Archive for Blue Jays

Ryan Borucki and Baseball’s Newest Plus Pitch

For most of 2018, any positive noise about the Toronto Blue Jays has been oriented to the future. Teoscar Hernandez — picked up for Francisco Liriano last July 3 — has proven to be a solid piece for the team. The farm system boasts four prospects in the top 100, led by baseball’s No. 1 prospect in Vladimir Guerrero Jr. While injured currently, Guerrero has posted video-game numbers at Double-A, and even the slightest possibility of his call-up to Toronto has sent fans into hysterics. With the AL East pretty well set for the playoffs, looking ahead is an entirely realistic plan for the Blue Jays.

Two weeks ago, another young Blue Jay made his major-league debut. Ryan Borucki comes from a baseball family: his father played 600 games in the minors and was a one-time teammate of Ryne Sandberg’s. The younger Borucki was a 15th-round pick in 2012 and signed for $426,000 to forego his commitment to Iowa. After a rough start to the career — including Tommy John surgery and shoulder pain that led to lost 2015 campaign — he turned it around after a demotion to Low-A in 2016 and shot up three levels to Triple-A in 2017. After a middling start to the 2018 season in Triple-A, Borucki got called out to fill out a rotation plagued by struggles and injury.

In his first three starts, Borucki faced the Astros, Yankees, and Tigers. Despite the quality of those first two clubs, Borucki conceded only five total runs in 20 innings while recording a 16:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Nor does it get any easier: Borucki is scheduled to start tonight against Boston.

At first glance, Borucki’s arsenal doesn’t seem like the sort capable of thwarting two of the league’s highest-scoring offenses. His sinking fastball averages around 92 mph and his slider is generally seen as pedestrian. However, he does have one weapon that could become one of the best pitches of its kind in the majors.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 7/11

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Andres Gimenez, SS, New York Mets (Profile)
Level: Hi-A   Age: 19   Org Rank: 3   FV: 50
Line: 3-for-5, 2B, 3B

Gimenez is a 19-year-old shortstop slashing .280/.350/.430 in the Florida State League. That’s good for a 107 wRC+ in the FSL. Big-league shortstops with similar wRC+ marks are Trea Turner (a more explosive player and rangier defender than Gimenez) and Jurickson Profar, who have both been two-win players or better this year ahead of the break. Also of note in the Mets system last night was Ronny Mauricio, who extended his career-opening hitting streak to 19 games.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 7/10

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Maverik Buffo, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays (Profile)
Level: Hi-A   Age: 22   Org Rank: NR   FV: 30
Line: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 5 K

Buffo, who has a tailing upper-80s fastball and average slider, is probably an upper-level depth arm. He throws strikes and has great makeup, so he’s nice to have in an organization. Sometimes those guys shove and make the Daily Notes, and sometimes they’re also named Maverik Buffo.

Carlos Hernandez, RHP, Kansas City Royals (Profile)
Level: Low-A   Age: 21   Org Rank: 24   FV: 40
Line: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 R, 12 K

Hernandez has a golden arm that produces plus-plus velocity and riding life, but he also has several traits that will likely push him to the bullpen. His secondaries are inconsistent, as is his fastball command, and Hernandez is a relatively stiff short-strider. It’s possible that some of these things improve, just probably not enough for Hernandez to be an efficient starter. Not much has to improve for him to be a bullpen piece, though — and potentially a very good one.

Victor Santos, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (Profile)
Level: Complex (GCL)   Age: 17   Org Rank: NR   FV: 35+
Line: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 9 K

Santos is a strong-bodied teenage righty with a bit of a longer arm action and presently average stuff for which he has advanced feel. He sits 90-93 with arm-side run and he locates it to his glove side, often running it back onto that corner of the plate. Santos doesn’t have much room on his frame, but at just 17, he’s still likely to get stronger as he matures, and there may be more stuff in here anyway.

Tristen Lutz, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (Profile)
Level: Low-A   Age: 19   Org Rank: 3   FV: 50
Line: 2-for-3, 2B, HR, 3 BB

Lutz had a putrid April that he followed with two months of pedestrian .250/.320/.420 ball, but he’s been hot of late and has been a .280/.350/.500 hitter since mid-May. Lutz is striking out more than is ideal and has a maxed-out frame, but he already possesses all the power he needs to play every day as long as a viable on-base/contact combination develops.

Notes from the Field
AZL games were rained out last night, so nothing today.

Steve Pearce Is on the Move, Again, in the AL East

With his trade to Boston on Thursday night, Steve Pearce has completed a personal odyssey. By joining the Red Sox, Pearce has now been employed by all five clubs in the American League East. The last leg in his tour of the division moves him from a club with little chance of making the postseason — a Blue Jays team that is beginning to think about next year (or, really, 2020) — to one that figures to be competing with the Yankees into September for a division title.

The Red Sox acquire Pearce for a specific reason: to help against left-handed pitching. The Red Sox have been below average (97 wRC+) against lefties this season, ranking 14th in baseball and eighth in the American League.

Pearce, meanwhile, has always hit lefties well. He owns a career slash line of .264/.346/.494 and 127 wRC+ against left-handers, and this season he has a .306/.358/.531 slash and a 143 wRC+ in 53 plate appearances against lefties. He has played first, left, and right field for the Blue Jays, so he gives the Red Sox options for getting his bat into the lineup. Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Prospect Notes: 6/27

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Jabari Blash, OF, Los Angeles Angels (Profile)
Level: Triple-A   Age: 28   Org Rank: NR  FV: 35
Line: 3-for-3, 3 HR, BB

Blash is no longer rookie-eligible, so while he’s a fun player to watch hit bombs and had a hell of a game last night, he’s on here today as a conduit to discuss what’s going on with some of the Angels hitters in the lowest levels of the minors. This is Trent Deveaux last fall, when he first arrived in the states. His swing was largely the same early this spring, albeit with a stronger, more involved top hand, which helped him drive the ball with more authority. This is what he looks like right now, which bears quite a bit of resemblance to Blash. No offense to Blash, who has had a long pro career and will probably play for another half-decade or so, but I’m not sure I’d proactively alter an ultra-talented 18-year-old’s swing to mimic that of a notoriously frustrating replacement-level player. Deveaux isn’t the only low-level Angels hitting prospect whose swing now looks like this.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 6/26

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Taylor Hearn, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Profile)
Level: Double-A   Age: 23   Org Rank:FV: 45
Line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 R

Hearn’s peripherals (27.5% K, 9.3% BB) are exactly the same as they were last year when he was in High-A. He’s a little old for Double-A, but that matters less for pitchers and Hearn’s early-career injuries set back his development pretty significantly. He’ll flash a 55 slider and average changeup, and he throws enough strikes to start, though he’s not overly efficient. He was up to 97 last night and projects as a fourth starter or late-inning reliever. Here are his swinging strikes from yesterday…

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Daily Prospect Notes: 6/24 and 6/25

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Joe Palumbo, LHP, Texas Rangers (Profile)
Level: Rehabbing   Age: 23   Org Rank: 18  FV: 40
Line: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 R

Sunday was Palumbo’s first start back from Tommy John surgery. He was into the mid-90s with a plus curveball before the injury, which caused him to miss all of 2017. Yerry Rodriguez (more detail here) had a second strong outing in relief of Palumbo, striking out seven in six innings of four-hit, one-run ball. Video of Rodriguez appears below.

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The Other Side of a Roberto Osuna Trade

Friday night, Roberto Osuna became the latest player suspended under the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy policy. Per ESPN:

Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was suspended without pay for 75 games on Friday for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic-violence policy, the league announced.

Osuna, 23, has agreed not to appeal the suspension, which is retroactive to May 8 and extends through Aug. 4. He will wind up missing 89 days, which would cost him about $2.54 million of his $5.3 million salary.

Osuna receives the third-longest domestic-violence suspension in MLB history, behind Jose Torres (100 games) and Hector Olivera (82 games). The specific allegations which led to this suspension are still unclear, but we know Osuna was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend, that he has pleaded not guilty to those charges, and that he is presently awaiting trial. Jon Heyman reports that the severity of the penalty was related, in part, to the interview MLB had with Osuna’s girlfriend.

I’ve written before about the problems with MLB’s domestic-violence policy, both generally and in the context of specific players. Osuna’s suspension is yet more evidence of why this policy is flawed. It may seem odd to cite one of the league’s longer domestic-violence suspensions as evidence that the policy isn’t working. A look at the case in context reveals why such a claim makes sense, though.

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The Blue Jays Should Plan for 2020

Entering play today, four American League teams have better than a 94% chance of making the playoffs. You are probably aware that those teams are the Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, and Astros. The Yankees (99.9%), Red Sox (99.6%), and Astros (99.8%) are projected as locks for the postseason barring a series of catastrophes. The Astros (+138), Red Sox (+103), and Yankees (+91) also rank Nos. 1-2-3 in the majors in run differential. In 2016, only five clubs in baseball produced 100-plus run differentials. In 2015 and 2014? Only four.

The only postseason races that appear likely to provide compelling theatre later this summer are the battle for the AL East crown (the Yankees and Red Sox ought to be aggressive buyers) and the second Wild Card. But with Shohei Ohtani’s right UCL apparently hanging on by a thread, and Andrelton Simmons also on the DL, the Mariners are in a seemingly strong position to capture the second Wild Card — though their modest run differential (+27) casts some doubt over their staying power, leaving open the door open for the Twins and Angels. The Mariners, with what remains of the farm system, also ought to try and strengthen their grasp of a playoff position.

Still, the Mariners (73.5%) are the only other AL team with better than coin-flip odds of making the postseason. In fact, the Mariners and Angels are the only other two teams with double-digit odds of making the playoffs.

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Players’ View: Learning and Developing a Pitch, Part 12

Pitchers learn and develop different pitches, and they do so at varying stages of their lives. It might be a curveball in high school, a cutter in college, or a changeup in A-ball. Sometimes the addition or refinement is a natural progression — graduating from Pitching 101 to advanced course work — and often it’s a matter of necessity. In order to get hitters out as the quality of competition improves, a pitcher needs to optimize his repertoire.

In the twelfth installment of this series, we’ll hear from three pitchers — Matt Boyd, Sam Gaviglio, and Hector Santiago —— on how they learned and/or developed a specific pitch.


Matt Boyd (Tigers) on His Slider

“My slider has kind of evolved over the years. My junior year [at Oregon State], we had a rain delay at the University of Portland and I was playing catch out in front of the dugout. I asked Nate Yesky, our pitching coach, how to throw one. He taught me how he threw his.

“It turned into this big slurve. I kind of rode that my senior year — it was a big pitch for me — and once I got into pro ball it slowly tightened up. As the years went on, every coach on the Blue Jays worked with me on it, trying to make it more like a cutter. They wanted to make it more high 80s, closer to my fastball, but I could never really get to that pitch.

“I was still trying to figure it out when I got to the big leagues. It wasn’t very consistent. Rich Dubee really helped me out, trying to tighten it up. But again, it would come and go. It wasn’t until later in the year, last year, that it started getting tighter.

“This offseason, I threw with James Paxton a little bit and he showed me how he throws his. We obviously have a much different slider-cutter, but I threw it like his and from there it took on a shape of its own with my own delivery. It’s become a real weapon for me.

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Players’ View: Learning and Developing a Pitch, Part 11

Pitchers learn and develop different pitches, and they do so at varying stages of their lives. It might be a curveball in high school, a cutter in college, or a changeup in A-ball. Sometimes the addition or refinement is a natural progression — graduating from Pitching 101 to advanced course work — and often it’s a matter of necessity. In order to get hitters out as the quality of competition improves, a pitcher needs to optimize his repertoire.

In the eleventh installment of this series, we’ll hear from three pitchers — Tyler Clippard, A.J. Minter, and Seung Hwan Oh — on how they learned and/or developed a specific pitch.


Tyler Clippard (Blue Jays) on His Changeup and Splitter

“My changeup is a pitch I’ve been throwing since I was 13 or 14 years old. It’s always been the same grip, kind of a circle change. The grip itself isn’t that unusual as far as how most people grip their changeup. The biggest thing I think I do a little differently than most guys is that I have the ability to kind of kill my lower half. That stems from a pitching coach I had at an early age. I took what he said to heart and developed a feel for not pushing off the rubber, for having a soft front side. Read the rest of this entry »

Ben Wagner on Replacing a Legend in the Blue Jays Radio Booth

Replacing a broadcasting legend isn’t easy. In Ben Wagner’s case, he’s following in the proverbial footsteps of Jerry Howarth, who retired this spring after 36 years as the radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays. Originally alongside the equally-celebrated Tom Cheek, Howarth was immensely popular not just in the province of Ontario, but throughout Canada.

By all accounts, Wagner is more than holding his own. Primarily paired with Mike Wilner in the Jays’ radio booth, the 37-year-old Indiana native is making a smooth transition from the minors to the majors. After beginning his broadcast career with the Low-A Lakewood Blue Claws, in 2004, Wagner spent the past 11 seasons calling games for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

Wagner talked about the challenges and rewards of his new job, and the incorporation of analytics into a broadcast, when the Blue Jays visited Fenway Park over the weekend.


Wagner on replacing Howarth: “First and foremost, it starts with Jerry. Jerry was incredibly supportive of me, even before this process started when he announced that he was going to retire. He’s somebody I’ve looked up to as a mentor — and now as a pseudo-colleague, you might say. I’ve valued his constructive criticism over the years. That’s the foundation of our relationship, and because of that, he felt comfortable knowing I had a shot to win the job. It makes it a much easier transition for me, knowing that he’s in my corner. What Jerry has said publicly is very humbling.

“Is there pressure in replacing him in the booth? Heck yeah, there’s pressure. For somebody like me, not having a major-league track record, it’s a massive job. Not only am I with a franchise that puts a lot of care into their broadcasts, the reach isn’t just to a specific fan base, it’s to an entire country. And with modern technology, I’m broadcasting around the world. So there’s no doubt a lot of pressure comes with it, but we hit the ground running and we continue to grow.”

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Blue Jays Prospect Kevin Smith on Casting Aside His Red Flag

In Baseball America’s 2018 Prospect Handbook, 21-year-old Kevin Smith is described as having “a high dose of swing-and-miss… with an uphill swing path that helps him lift the ball but also leaves him with holes pitchers can exploit.” Our own Kiley McDaniel echoed that opinion, writing that Toronto’s 2017 fourth-round pick “has a big swing, raw power, and a glove that can stick at short, but a questionable approach.”

Six weeks into his first full professional season, the University of Maryland product has cast aside those red flags and — thanks to some notable adjustments — turned himself into a blue-chip prospect. He’s currently making mincemeat out of Midwest League pitching. In 146 plate appearances with the Lansing Lugnuts, Smith is slashing a scintillating .387/.430/.664, with 19 doubles, a pair of triples, and five home runs.

Smith discussed his game-changing adjustments, and his analytical approach to the game, this past weekend.


Smith on the Kiley McDaniel and Baseball America quotes: “I think they were [mostly accurate]. After evaluating myself following last season, I knew that I needed to change some things up. My swing plane was kind of a mess. This offseason, I worked on some things to flatten out and be in the zone a little longer, but without losing any of the power I had last year.

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Roberto Osuna, the Blue Jays, and the Limits of Presuming Innocence

The Toronto Blue Jays managed the singular feat Tuesday of being no-hit and having that no-hitter register as only the second-worst news of the day. Whenever that happens, you know you’re having a very bad day.


All-Star closer Roberto Osuna of the Toronto Blue Jays was charged with assault Tuesday and put on administrative leave by Major League Baseball, preventing him from playing for at least a week.

Osuna assaulted a woman, according to Toronto police.

Now, obviously there’s a lot to unpack here, and we don’t have all of the facts. In fact, at this point all we know is that Osuna was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, then released. Multiple sources have confirmed that the incident in question was indeed one of domestic violence. But the Blue Jays had what might be considered an interesting response to the allegations.

“We are taking the matter extremely seriously, as the type of conduct associated with this incident is not reflective of our values as an organisation,” the team said.

Osuna has been placed on administrative leave per Article II of the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy in the CBA, a move the team says it “fully supports.”

Let’s start with the Blue Jays’ statement. As a lawyer, among the first things one learns is that words matter, and what struck me about that statement is what was missing from it. Nowhere in that statement is there any qualification, like the words “allegedly” or “if true.”

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J.A. Happ Is Climbing the Ladder

Among the early-season strikeout leaders, one finds many of the usual names, pitchers like Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, and Noah Syndergaard. But sandwiched between Syndergaard and Justin Verlander, at seventh overall, is a bit of surprise: J.A. Happ. The veteran lefty has struck out 33.6% of batters faced so far this year.

Because strikeout rate begins to stabilize before almost any other metric, this is a possible first sign that something about Happ is fundamentally different. His swinging-strike rate — another predictive figure — has also jumped, up to 14.1%. He’s never reached double-digits by that measure over the course of a full season.

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Top 22 Prospects: Toronto Blue Jays

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the Toronto Blue Jays. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All the numbered prospects here also appear on THE BOARD, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. Click here to visit THE BOARD.

Blue Jays Top Prospects
Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV
1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. 18 AA 1B 2019 65
2 Bo Bichette 19 AA 2B 2019 60
3 Anthony Alford 22 MLB CF 2018 55
4 Danny Jansen 22 AAA C 2018 50
5 Nate Pearson 21 A- RHP 2020 50
6 Ryan Borucki 23 AAA LHP 2018 45
7 T.J. Zeuch 22 A+ RHP 2019 45
8 Logan Warmoth 22 A+ SS 2020 45
9 Eric Pardinho 17 R RHP 2021 40
10 Reese McGuire 22 AAA C 2018 40
11 Sean Reid-Foley 22 AA RHP 2019 40
12 Thomas Pannone 23 AA LHP 2019 40
13 Lourdes Gurriel 24 MLB UTIL 2018 40
14 Rowdy Tellez 23 AAA 1B 2019 40
15 Richard Urena 22 MLB SS 2019 40
16 Yennsy Diaz 21 A RHP 2020 40
17 Samad Taylor 19 A 2B 2022 40
18 Riley Adams 21 A+ C 2021 40
19 Justin Maese 21 A RHP 2020 40
20 Hagen Danner 19 R C 2023 40
21 Zach Jackson 23 AA RHP 2019 40
22 Jon Harris 24 AA RHP 2018 40

65 FV Prospects

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2015 from Dominican Republic
Age 18 Height 6’1 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
40/65 65/70 40/70 40/30 40/50 60/60

Guerrero was identified as an elite talent years before the Jays signed him at age 16, exhibiting an advanced feel for hitting and raw power like his father. Unlike the elder Guerrero, Vlad Jr. has generally developed earlier — already looking too big for third base as a teenager and polishing his tools at a very young stage. Whether Vlad Jr. settles as a fringey third baseman or a first basemen/designated hitter is up for debate, but his easy plus hit and power tools (with ceiling for more) are not and will make his ascent to the big leagues a quick one.

60 FV Prospects

Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 from Lakewood HS (FL)
Age 19 Height 6’0 Weight 200 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/50 65/70 40/60 45/45 45/50 55/55

Bichette was a well-known prospect in high school due to his bloodlines (father Dante and older brother Dante Jr., who was a first-round pick by the Yankees in 2011), his big tools (plus raw power), and his loud, max-effort swing. Many teams didn’t take him seriously as a top-two-round prospect, partly souring after his brother busted with a similar swing, but Bo has rare bat and body control along with good enough pitch selection to make his approach work, something his older brother did not.

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Aaron Sanchez Figured Something Out

Among the reasons for optimism in Toronto is that Aaron Sanchez is back. Sure, you never really know when any pitcher will stay good and healthy, but Sanchez was able to start just eight games in 2017, due to significant blister problems. So far this year, the problem hasn’t recurred. As far as the Blue Jays go, the problem isn’t upper-tier talent. The problem is keeping all that talent on the field. If Sanchez can throw another 30-odd times, that’ll answer at least one major question.

Now that Sanchez is two starts into 2018, we can say that there’s been good and bad. He’s still throwing hard, and he’s getting ground balls. That’s good. Less good are the early problems with control, although maybe Sanchez deserves a break for struggling against the Yankees. Plenty of pitchers are going to struggle against the Yankees. Sanchez just looked fine against the White Sox, and, even more important than that, we’re seeing an adjusted Aaron Sanchez. Sanchez has unveiled a new weapon of his, something he’s never been able to consistently possess. From the looks of things, 2018 Aaron Sanchez has a far better changeup. It’s also one of the hardest changeups in the game.

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Let’s Talk About the Jays’ Promising Projection

The 2017 season was a disheartening one for the Blue Jays. After back-to-back trips to the ALCS in 2015-16 — their first two postseason appearances since 1993 — they faceplanted out of the gate, losing 11 of their first 13 games. They never reached .500, going an improbable, Sisyphean 0-8 in games that would have evened their record. Amid injuries to Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Aaron Sanchez, Troy Tulowitzki and others, not to mention the collapse of Jose Bautista, they finished fourth in the AL East with a 76-86 record, their worst showing since 2013. This winter, they stayed out of the deep end of the free-agent pool, making a few low-cost additions plus a handful of trades that hardly qualified as blockbusters. Yet as of Opening Day, they were projected for 84 wins, the league’s fifth-highest total. What in the name of Cito Gaston is going on?

To these eyes, the Blue Jays’ projection is like the flip side of the Brewers’ one that raised my eyebrows a few weeks ago. Recall that the Brew Crew quickly turned around from their rebuilding effort and won 86 games last year while remaining in the NL Wild Card hunt until the season’s final weekend. They added Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich over the winter, and didn’t lose anyone of importance save August acquisition Neil Walker, yet their projection called for just 78 wins.

As for the Blue Jays, when one considers that they had the majors’ oldest lineup (weighted average age of 30.9 years according to Baseball-Reference), and that even with the jettisoning of Bautista, all of this year’s projected regulars save two are on the wrong side of 30, it’s at least worth wondering why our projection system (which is driven by Steamer and ZiPS but with manual judgment in terms of distributing playing time) is so keen on them.

As I did for the Brewers, here’s a position-by-position comparison between our Depth Charts (as of March 29, Opening Day) and last year’s splits. All rankings are AL-only:

Blue Jays, 2017 vs. 2018
Position 2017 WAR AL Rk 2018 WAR AL Rk Dif
C 0.3 15 2.7 4 2.4
1B 3.1 6 2.3 5 -0.8
2B 0.3 12 2.4 8 2.1
SS -0.4 15 2.2 9 2.6
3B 4.9 1 6.2 1 1.3
LF 0.3 13 1.5 8 1.2
CF 2.0 10 2.9 6 0.9
RF 0.2 14 1.9 6 1.7
DH -0.6 7 0.9 10 1.5
SP 10.7 7 13.4 6 2.7
RP 5.8 5 3.3 7 -2.5
Total 26.6 39.7 13.1
2017 data is actual splits by position, 2018 is depth chart estimates as of March 29.

The first thing to note is how distressingly godawful the Jays were at so many positions last year. In terms of WAR, they ranked among the league’s bottom four teams at five positions, including dead last at catcher and shortstop, and received 0.5 WAR or less from six different positions including DH, with a net of 0.1 WAR for those half-dozen spots. Only at first base (Justin Smoak) and third base (Donaldson) did they receive significantly above-average work; in the latter case, that was despite the majors’ top third baseman playing just 104 games at the position due to a calf strain. Thankfully, they also received above-average production from their pitching staff, without which they might have been relegated to the independent Canadian-American League.

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Pitch Talks in Toronto on April 5th

Next Thursday, the author of this post and a group of people much more interesting than the author of this post will be discussing the Blue Jays over drinks and then even more drinks at the historic Royal Cinema in Toronto.

Among the most interesting people scheduled to appear is Mark Shapiro — a person of some consequence in the Blue Jays organization, it would seem. Early-bird tickets have sold out, but the general-admission variety are still available — and readers can get a $5 discount by using the promo code “fangraphs.”

Click here to purchase tickets.

Or click here to purchase tickets.

Or consider clicking here to purchase tickets.

Effectively Wild Episode 1191: Season Preview Series: Blue Jays and Pirates


Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about a new nautical analogy by Scott Boras, the resurgent Lucas Giolito, Ronald Acuña (again), and possible destinations for free agents Alex Cobb and Greg Holland, then preview the 2018 Blue Jays (15:00) with Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, and the 2018 Pirates (46:48) with’s Adam Berry.

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