On Wednesday night the Toronto Blue Jays finally accomplished what was thought to be unthinkable just two short months ago, clinching the American League East division following a 15-2 blowout of the Baltimore Orioles in the first game of a doubleheader. This division title marks the first for the Jays since 1993, the year they last won the World Series, ending the longest playoff drought in the MLB. With the AL East division now in their grasp, the Blue Jays can now look forward to the ALDS as they attempt to return to the World Series for the first time since 1993.
Of all the teams currently holding playoff spots, while also including those still in the playoff hunt, the Blue Jays have higher odds of winning the World Series than every team in the American League and every team in the National League except for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It is no small wonder that the Blue Jays went from a .500 ball club directly after the All-Star break to a team not only at the top of the American League East but also the best record in the entire American League. With home field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Blue Jays are going to be nearly impossible to beat in the Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays currently hold a one game lead over the Kansas City Royals for the best record in the American League which would earn them the right to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs (including the World Series, given the American League’s victory over the National League in the 2015 All-Star Game). With home field advantage within their grasp, the Blue Jays have to be the favorite to not only make it to the World Series, but also win it.
The Blue Jays currently hold a home record of 53-28 which stands as the best home record in the entire American League. By comparison, the Jays are barely over .500 at 39-38 when playing on the road. For this reason alone, taking home field advantage away from the Royals is of monumental importance. If anyone is able to achieve this, it is the Jays.
Since the beginning of August, following the trade deadline and the acquisitions of David Price, Troy Tulowitzki and others, the Jays have a combined record of 38-14. Beyond their amazing record in the second half, the Jays have been one of the most powerful offenses in recent memory. The Jays lead the league with 873 runs scored in 2015 which puts them 122 runs ahead of the next closest team, that team being the New York Yankees. For some other perspective, the Jays have a run differential of 229 runs, which is the best in the league by almost 100 runs over the second place St Louis Cardinals. Not only have the Jays scored runs at a historic pace, they have done so while doing a decent job of preventing runs on top of that, especially in the second half of the season.
Compared to the first half of the season when the Blue Jays pitching staff combined for an ERA and FIP over 4.00, the Blue Jays staff combined for a 3.26 ERA in the second half to go along with a 3.86 FIP. Obviously quite a bit of credit goes to David Price and his 9-1 record and 2.30 ERA and 2.23 FIP since joining the Jays but as a unit the Jays have been substantially better at preventing runs in the second half to go along with their league leading offense.
With players like Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, Chris Colabello and others providing plenty of offense, and pitchers like Price, R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman, Mark Buehrle, Marco Estrada, Roberto Osuna, and Aaron Sanchez, pitching to the best of their abilities, the Toronto Blue Jays are a real force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. With a combined record of 30-17 against all likely or possible AL playoff teams, the Jays have clearly positioned themselves as the front runner in not only the American League but perhaps among National League teams as well. Above all else, one thing is certain: the Blue Jays are clearly a World Series caliber team for the first time since 1993 and the city of Toronto is enjoying every minute of the ride.