The Toronto Blue Jays will be a better team in 2016. A full year of Troy Tulowitzki, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Pillar starting every day in center field, and a full year of a decent left field defender in Michael Saunders. Additions of J.A. Happ and Jesse Chavez and Drew Storen will only benefit the Blue Jays and will help them from avoiding a tough start that occurred during the start of the season.
The big bats are back for the Blue Jays with Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion holding down the middle of the order and the addition of Tulowitzki at the trade-deadline will give them an even more feared and arguably the most dangerous 2-3-4 and 5 in the order. After analyzing last years totals, and comparing them with Fangraphs.com projections for 2016, the offense will be toned back slightly from their outrageous year in 2015, but only slightly, which is ridiculous and is similar to video game numbers. The team batting average in 2015 was at .269 and will see a slow dip to .263 in 2016, OBP is almost identical with .340 in 2015 and .338 in 2016. Slugging goes down from .457 to .427 and hit 15 less home-runs in 2016 than their AL East Champion winning year. Runs will also have a small decline, from 891 to 794 which is still more than the second placed team in number of runs last year which was 764.
The small amount of decline in the crazy offensive numbers put up in 2015, will give them baseball’s best offence for a second year in a row, and will allow them to march into the playoffs in 2016 as well.
When it comes to pitching, the departure of David Price and Mark Buehrle obviously will have an impact to the rotation as they made huge contributions that accelerated the Blue Jays to the top of the AL East. Price went 9-1 after his arrival, while for most of the year Mark Buehrle kept the Jays afloat while the rest of the rotation faltered around him.
After Price’s departure, he handed the reigns to young, energetic and electric Marcus Stroman with the job of stabilizing a rotation and donning the title of “Ace” at 24 years old. The Jays reunited with JA Happ, after he saw success in the second half of the season with Pittsburgh and essentially replaced Mark Buehrle in the rotation. They then went out and traded for Jesse Chavez, signed Gavin Floyd, Brad Penny, re-signed Marco Estrada and his out-of-this-world change-up to battle for the 5th spot in the rotation along with Drew Hutchison and Aaron Sanchez .
A full year of Marcus Stroman is something that is extremely important for the Blue Jays and will settle the rotation down. Losing him last spring,the Jays rotation lacked spark, resulting in them losing games, even though they had the best offense in baseball. Happ will provide stability and start every fifth day, and RA Dickey, being his usual 200-inning workhorse self, will only add to the rotation’s strength. Drew Hutchison is a big bounce-back candidate, and Jesse Chavez was a solid starter in Oakland the last 3 seasons. The Jays didn’t need to make a big splash in free-agency or trades, because just reliable, solid starters will be enough for them to contend.
To a lot of people’s surprise, the Blue Jays will actually have a much better rotation than last year. They are projected to have more wins, fewer losses, and a higher WAR among their pitchers this season. They are projected to strike out 1135 hitters this year, opposed to 1117 hitters last season. They should allow fewer walks, and a lower number of hits. Their ERA in 2015 was 3.81 and their 2016 ERA projection is 3.61, a full 0.20 drop. They are projected to win 95 games and lose just 67 and that is more than enough to win the division. 2016 with a full year of Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey, and either Jesse Chavez, Aaron Sanchez or Drew Hutchison will make their rotation stable, and let their offense do the grunt work.
The bullpen lost Liam Hendriks, LaTroy Hawkins, and Mark Lowe which are big losses, but new management went out and signed depth players who can compete for a spot in the bullpen. They added All-Star closer Drew Storen from Washington, Rafael Soriano who saved 32 games for Washington just 2 years ago, Joe Biagini, switch pitcher Pat Venditte, David Aardsma, Arnold Leon, (Gavin Floyd, and Jesse Chavez could also be a part of the bullpen), to go along with regulars, Roberto Osuna, Brett Cecil, and Aaron Loup. Aaron Sanchez is also a possibility. Ryan Tepera, Bo Schultz and Steve Delabar (who was an All-Star in 2012) are also in the mix. With depth, and star-power in their bullpen, the Blue Jays should be much better at closing out games this year.
Even without David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, LaTroy Hawkins, Dioner Navarro and Liam Hendriks, will be a better team in 2016. Tulowitzki is fully settled as a Blue Jay now, and depth in the outfield, with Saunders, Pompey and Dominic Brown will make their defense better in the outfield and will allow for many platoon options. What is overlooked a lot in baseball these days is defense. The combination of Donaldson, Tulowitzki, Goins, Smoak/Collabello and Russell Martin gives the Blue Jays one of the best, if not the best infield defense in all of baseball. The outfield is not too shabby either with Kevin Pillar, who should have been a gold glover and had a UZR of 15.2 last year, along with Jose Bautista who is solid in right field. Left field was a disaster last year for the Jays, with Chris Colabello, Danny Valencia, and Ezequiel Carrera platooning the outfield, making errors every night, and costing the team runs and wins. With Saunders, Pompey and Brown the Jays have much better defense in left field.
Chemistry in Blue Jays camp is high. Their sights are set on bringing a World Championship back to Toronto, and they are prepared to do whatever it takes. With a lights-out offense, steady pitching and excellent defense, it is more than just possible – it is likely.