You read that right — get the champagne ready.
With a 15-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles in the first game of today’s doubleheader, the Toronto Blue Jays have earned a trip to the American League Division Series.
On July 30, the day before the non-waiver trade deadline, Toronto held a record of 52-51. Third place is where they stood, behind the second-place Orioles and trailing the New York Yankees by six games. For many, the season seemed over; in reality, the season was just beginning.
After pumping life into the clubhouse with the additions of Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, this campaign, and possibly the future of the franchise, changed dramatically. The 2015 season is one to remember not only because of the end result, but because it is the genesis of developing rivalries, star-studded talent, exciting deals, and an intangible ability to create late-game magic.
Toronto has gone on to win 39 of 53 games while skyrocketing to a six-game cushion over the Yankees. They are on top of the American League with 92 wins and have an offense that will make you do a double-take when looking at the stats sheet. The Blue Jays lead Major League Baseball with 872 runs — 126 runs more than the second-best Yankees. This total is already more than the highest scoring teams in any of the past three seasons, with five games remaining. Toronto also leads the league in doubles (295), home runs (223), runs batted in (822), on-base percentage (.338), slugging percentage (.455), and OPS (.793).
A fan asked Detroit Tigers SP Justin Verlander his opinion on the high amount of homers this year. His response:
— Justin Verlander (@JustinVerlander) September 26, 2015
For a championship-caliber club, there must be championship-caliber players. Twenty-two years ago was the last time the Blue Jays won the pennant, and it was the last time Toronto had the magnitude of talent to take them to the next level. This year draws comparisons. The 2015 version of the Blue Jays may not have a smooth-sounding abbreviation like WAMCO (Devon White, Roberto Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter, and John Olerud), but the front five has solidified themselves as one of the best this franchise has seen. Three of the top-five run producers in baseball hit back-to-back-to-back. Take a look at the staggering numbers put together from the heart of the order this year.
[table caption=”The Heart of the Blue Jays’ Order”]
The pitching staff has put it together in the second half, entering the top 10 in ERA (3.77) and batting average against (.248).
Coupled with a potential gold-glove outfielder in Kevin Pillar, a career year for Russell Martin in terms of homers, and Marcus Stroman coming back from a torn ACL to become the youngest starting pitcher to clinch the division, 2015 has been a perfect storm for the Blue Jays.
Now, they play for the American League title, potentially with home field advantage throughout the postseason. The Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, and Houston Astros are all potential suitors come game one. Toronto had a franchise-best record against New York this season, winning 13 of 19 games against them. They were 5-2 against Anaheim, 4-2 against Texas, and 3-4 against Houston.
Whoever they are up against, you can be sure the city of Toronto and the Blue Jays will be ready to welcome them to a rocking Rogers Centre. The fans have 22 years of cheering to let out.