Friday, November 16, 2012

MLB Offseason: Are the Toronto Blue Jays For Real?

If you're a baseball fan living North of the Border, it was a very good week.  Your team, assuming you are a Toronto Blue Jays fan, snagged Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buerhle on Tuesday night.  Then, they gave you a present for the weekend in the form of a two-year deal for Melky Cabrera.  

So, Blue Jays fan, how will your team do this coming season?  AL East title?  World Series champs?


But before we go handing the Blue Jays tickets to the 2013 MLB playoffs, let's evaluate their team on a statistical level instead of just taking them at face value.

First, their offensive lineup.  It's starting to look pretty potent what with the addition of Jose Reyes, whose .291 lifetime batting average should add well-roundedness to a team that last season ranked sixth in the Majors home runs, but 23rd in batting average (.245). 

Melky Cabrera bats .275 lifetime if you remove 2012, the year he was suspended 50 games for a positive testosterone test.  But while Cabrera's accolades as an offensive performer aren't nearly up to the standards of Reyes, his bat is still an improvement over the likes of Colby Rasmus and Rajai Davis, one of whom he'll probably end up replacing in the Toronto outfield.  

The rest of their lineup includes Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, and David Cooper, all of whom should be able to help the team offensively.  

So look at it this way: with those players, the one-through-six spots in the batting order should be very productive next year, which means good things for Toronto's chances at a title.  

Defensively, though, the Jays might have a little trouble at some positions on the baseball diamond.  

First base might be one of the biggest question marks of the entire 
Blue Jays franchise.  Of the players currently on the team, Edwin Encarnacion, David Cooper, Mike McDade, and Adam Lind all could play.  Encarnacion is more of a third baseman than a first baseman.  Cooper has played just 44 games as a Major League first baseman.  McDade hasn't even made his Major League debut yet.  And of the four players, Lind is the most experienced at the first base position with a .995 fielding percentage in 181 games, but he had less offensive success last season than either Encarnacion or Cooper.  

And in the outfield, who will the be the leftfielder?  Cabrera plays mainly centerfield, and most of Bautista's career games in the outfield have come in right.  Will it be Rajai Davis?  Colby Rasmus?  Adam Lind?  These questions about the defense have to be answered before Toronto can win the Commissioner's Trophy.  

There are also some weaknesses of the pitching staff.  The combined ERA of relievers last season was 4.33,  25th in the Majors.  

And as for the starters, they've added Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle.  That's good, but the standard MLB starting rotation consists of five players, and of the pitchers still with the Jays who made at least six starts for the team last season, not one has a career ERA under 4.09.  Combine that with the fact that Toronto is a hitters ballpark, and the Blue Jays will need more pitching before they can truly contend.  

No comments:

Post a Comment