Look back and the road ahead:
The next blog in our series will be on the Toronto Blue Jays, the lone Canadian team in the MLB. The Blue Jays are in one of the toughest divisions in baseball regarding talent and teams with money to spend. The top two big name teams in the division are the Yankees and the Red Sox, both are teams we will highlight in our blogs coming ahead in the future. The following stats where some highlights of the 2019 season for the Blue Jays.
|Total World Series Wins||2|
|Last Playoff Run:||2016|
|2019 Team Batting Average:||0.236|
|2019 Team ERA:||4.79|
|2019 Total oWAR||15.6|
|2019 Total dWAR||-2.1|
The Jays have a total of two World Series runs in their history. Both of those World Series victories were back to back in 1992 and 1993. Since then, there has been some success for the Toronto faithful but no more World Series wins of which, they are craving to taste again. This is shown with their last postseason run as the 2016 campaign, where ultimately they fell short.
In total, this last season for the Jays was not one that they would like to remember. Their team batting average was getting close to the Mendoza line, which is a horrible spot to be for a team. While, there were many young players starting for them, they did not have the planned success that they need. If they look to compete in the AL East, they will need to have more hitting success, which should be a reality with the copious young studs they have currently on their MLB roster and farm system. However, for a team that had the lowest batting average in the AL there is much room to improve. Not only will they need to improve the offensive side of the baseball but the pitching could use a little help, as well. The pitching staff for the Blue Jays was not the most stingy group, finishing at 8th in ERA in the AL. The team seemed more interested to sell some of their pitchers over the course of the season with most notably shipping out Marcus Stroman with the Mets returning a pair of pitchers, Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson. Not only was Marcus shipped out, but so was Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Hudson (World Series Champ). You will see a need for someone to step up in a big way for the starting rotation that currently holds Clay Buchholz, Trent Thornton, Jacob Waquespack, and Wilmer Font. That need could be filled by some of the young prospects that we talk about later. Along with that, the bullpen should be bolstered by Ken Giles. The Blue Jays could be a team that benefits from a potential key signing or two in this offseason, which we can talk about later in this blog.
The Toronto Blue Jays will most benefit from the wealth of youth talent they have on their team. Especially since this youth has some impressive family backgrounds.
The first player that I would like to highlight is the youngster Cavan Biggio. I believe that most people would know who his father is, Craig Biggio. I mean, what can you not say about Craig. Craig Biggio was a Houston Astro his entire career from 1988 til 2007. He was a seven time All-Star, is ranked sixth in games played, fifth in at-bats, twenty-first in hits, and did I mention Hall of Famer? If Cavan can be half of what his father was, then he may be able to have a modest career (captain obvious,right?). Cavan on the season had a 2.8 WAR with 16 homers on a .234/.364/.429 split. The numbers are not something that would scream future Hall-of-Famer, but they are respectable for a rookie. On top of his ability to hit, the former 29th round pick from Houston, Texas, has some ability on the base paths with 14 steals. I imagine that you will see further progression in the young second basemen. Cavan, is not alone with having a father that has some experience in the MLB.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Baby Vlad might be easily recognizable because he shares the same name as his father. His father is best known for his ability to swing it at the plate and cannon in the field. The way that his father could smash any pitch was noticeably his best-known ability. His father was a 8 time Silver Slugger, 9 time All-Star, and a Hall-of-Famer. Vlad had a split in his 16-year career of .318/.379/.553. If Baby Vlad can like his daddy, then we may be talking about a potential Hall-of-Famer. He may have a way to go before he hits that mark though. During his 2019 campaign, he had a 2.1 WAR on 15 homers and 69 RBIs. He batted a solid .272/.339/.433 split that was formidable for a rookie. I look for Vlad to progress just like Cavan Biggio over the course of the next few years to become a key piece in Toronto. There seems to be a lot of talk about fathers who were studs in the MLB and their sons on the Blue Jays, is there anyone we are missing?
Oh yeah, there is a third to the group of players on the Jays to have a father who played in the MLB. That youngster is the 2nd rounder from Lakewood High School in Florida, Bo Bichette. His father was Dante Bichette, who was stellar outfielder for the Rockies in years past. Bo may be better than his dad, which is saying a lot. Over the course of the 2019 season, he had a 2.1 WAR in just 196 at bats. On top of that, he was able to hit 11 homers and 21 RBIs and 4 steals. The 21-year-old shortstop could be a key piece of the Canadian Jays in the next 6-10 years and will look to continue his success into his 2020 campaign. I look for him to be the most important part of this legacy trio.
The largest downside for the Blue Jays is the youth of the team. With this youth, they do not have the level of experience that has seen great success yet. Some would think this is a good thing to have young talent, but often you will need players who have seen the playoffs before and know the grind of the season on the roster. Which leads into the other downside, that some of the better players on the Jays got traded in the past season. Which establishes a rebuilding sense in Toronto, that can be kind of confusing. This leaves some questions regarding the motives of the ownership staff for the Jays.
Like what has been mentioned before, the Blue Jays have much potential for their future. With the combination of Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette. You can see some of the prospects in the MILB in the following chart.
The top prospect for the team north of the US border is Nate Pearson. Nate, is a 23-year-old from Odessa, FL. He yields the build of a great MLB pitcher at a height of 6’ 6” and 245 pounds. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 draft by Toronto. He has had three seasons in the minor leagues in his career. Most of his stops have seen him dominate and move up quickly. In his minor league career, he had a 2.19 ERA in 34 games. This is a rather large sample size, which can give confidence in his skills. Not only is his ERA low, but he also had yielded 146 strikeouts in 123.1 innings and a spectacular .87 WHIP. I expect to see him become the stud of the Blue Jays staff in the next two years. If I was a fan, I would be shouting at the Toronto staff to let this man play ball on the big club. He is not alone on the list above as 4/5 of the top prospects are pitchers, which is something that the Jays dearly need. A few of those names to keep an eye on are Anthony Kay, Alex Manoah, and Eric Pardinho.
The Blue Jays may not be too active this offseason, if they are you may expect to see no large signings. This will because the front staff feels confident with the grit of the youth talent. If I was the GM of the Jays, I would potentially look for some veteran pitching (Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, and Rich Hill) help that comes on a deal and a few hitters that can add a spark on a budget for the team such as a platoon guy. The front-office doesn’t seem to have the tendency to spend on guys, even who have been studs for their team.
Where will the Blue Jays be in the next 5 years? I see them making a run for a playoff spot once again, they look to be at the tail end of a rebuilding period. One that seems to be built around the dynamic son-trio. I believe that with the addition of a key veteran pitcher and hitter, this team could be a force to be reckoned with. However, time will truly tell with this team, if I was to guess their record for the next year, I would give them a .500 record +- 5 games depending on the pieces that are added in the offseason.
As always, don’t forgot to check out our last podcast, which was talking about some of the key topics from this last season! The link is below.