The Toronto Blue Jays have been busy this offseason. Multiple big leaguers have joined the Blue Jays, both pitchers and position players. Even still, the Blue Jays were not ranked in the top 20 of the first MLB Power Rankings of 2020. Can they prove the rankings wrong and make a big run, even as big as winning the division?
Here are some reasons why the Blue Jays can be the winners of the American League East this season.
Multiple Position Players now have some MLB Experience
The Blue Jays have multiple position players that played well in their rookie season. Bo Bichette, Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio were all rookies in 2019. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was not considered a rookie in 2019, but it was still only his second season.
Bo Bichette played in 46 games last season and gave people a lot to look forward to. His slash line was .311/.358/.571 along with a .930 OPS. The 21-year-old had 29 extra base hits, including 11 homers. After a full season, it could be interesting to see how his stats look compared to his hot start.
Vlad Guerrero Jr.
With the amounts of pressure and high expectations Vlad Jr. could’ve had being that his father is a Hall of Famer, he had an acceptable rookie season. He came in sixth for AL Rookie of the Year and also participated in the Home Run Derby. In the 123 games that he played in, he hit 15 homers and 26 doubles. He didn’t hit as many homers that some people likely projected him to hit. However, he could still increase that amount in 2020.
Cavan Biggio finished one spot ahead of Vlad Jr. in the AL Rookie of the Year race as he finished fifth in the American League. He played in 100 games and slashed .234/.364/.429. Biggio had 71 base on balls, and he has potential to repeat that high on base percentage this year. He also had 35 extra base hits, so he can find the gaps as well.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Some people seem to not be giving as much hype to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as the others guys mentioned. He’s played in 149 games across his first two big league seasons. Through those games that add up to less than one full regular season, Gurriel Jr. has 31 home runs, 85 RBI and an .819 OPS. Those are some impressive numbers. If he and the other guys listed can have a big 2020 on the field, they can increase their chances of a division title.
Multiple Pitchers Added
The Blue Jays will have a very different rotation from the one they had in 2019. They have three guys that will likely be in the starting rotation to begin the season. Hyun-jin Ryu, Tanner Roark and Chase Anderson will all be pitching for the Blue Jays for the first time this upcoming season.
Former Dodger Hyun-jin Ryu won the National League runner up for the Cy Young award last year. He had an insane 2.32 ERA in 182 2/3 innings pitched. The southpaw allowed just 24 base on balls, which comes out to about 1.2 BB/9. His ability to limit walks and get outs provides efficiency which can provide some quick innings throughout a baseball season.
Tanner Roark will be pitching for his third team since 2019. He pitched for both the Reds and the Athletics last year. Roark finished the season with 31 starts and a 4.35 ERA. His career ERA is 3.71, so he’s had better years in terms of earned run average. Maybe a new club will help him get back to pitching like he did in 2014 when he pitched a shutout and had a 2.85 ERA.
Chase Anderson will be pitching for an American League team for the first time in his big league career with Toronto. Having less at-bats could be helpful for Anderson considering their is a DH in the American League.
He’s shown consistency at the MLB level throughout his career. After six seasons, he’s finished with an ERA of over 4.00 four times. However, the highest is listed at 4.39. The other two seasons where his ERA was below 4.00 were back-to-back in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, it was a career low at 2.74, with an ERA+ of 160.
Throughout 162 games, there are numerous outcomes that can happen. An example is the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals. Through their first 50 games of the season, they went 19-31. Some people likely didn’t see them as Postseason contenders at that point, let alone World Series champs. If a team can click on all cylinders at the right time, they can get on a big streak, and Toronto is certainly able to do so.
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