Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Team Preview

Toronto Blue Jays 2016 Team Preview

After fully buying in last season and tasting a bit of success, the Blue Jays will likely head into 2016 as a favorite to win the AL East. Is the power house lineup enough to overcome the loss of David Price this season? Time will tell.

tyler-polhill
Tyler Polhill

The Toronto Blue Jays were on the cusp of a World Series run last year but couldn’t quite get in there for the big series. Last season they proved that they mean business when they traded for Troy Tulowitzki, David Price and Ben Revere at the trade deadline. Two out of those three acquisitions are now gone as they get ready to compete for a tough AL East in 2016. Will the bats be able to balance out what they lack in pitching?

Listen to Tyler talk with Elyse Smith on the radio about the Blue Jays

Key Additions

Jesse Chavez, JA Happ, Drew Storen, Darwin Barney, Humberto Quintero, Casey Kotchman, David Adams, Jio Mier, Junior Lake, Roberto Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc, Brad Penny, Scott Diamond, Arnold Leon, Joe Biagini

Key Subtractions

David Price, Mark Lowe, LaTroy Hawkins, Cliff Pennington, Ben Revere, Dioner Navarro, Liam Hendricks, Macier Izturis, Mark Buehrle, Jeff Francis, Munenori Kawasaki, Jonathan Diaz, Matt Hague

Biggest Strength - Massive Power

The is the team to beat in all of baseball when it comes to offensive prowess. The lineup is so stacked, that the new guy Troy Tulowitzki, a former cleanup hitter for another good offensive team, is forced to either hit lead-off or 6th. The heart of the order is beautifully stacked with guys who can just mash, and they hit for great on base percentages too. Feels like we now know what we’ll get year in and year out from Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista as they have been very consistent for several years. The x-factors are if Tulo can prove to everyone he’s the best hitting short stop in the league yet again, and if Josh Donaldson is now an MVP level player every year. Other guys who could step up and make an impact offensively include Devon Travis when he returns from injury, Russell Martin, Kevin Pillar, and Dalton Pompey when he gets the call.

Biggest Weakness - Starting Pitching

Seems clear that Toronto is heavily relying on winning high scoring games this year. This rotation isn’t the worst in the league, and isn’t even the worst in the division, but it leaves a lot to be desired. Since this team is potentially ready to compete for a World Series now, the starting pitching probably should have been addressed a little during the off-season. No offense to JA Happ, but signing him and only him to bolster the rotation isn’t good enough. This team is relying too much on Aaron Sanchez to make a great transition from reliever to starter this year, and they might even have too much faith in Marco Estrada who had his first good season in a while last year. The lone shining star in the rotation is Marcus Stroman, who could very much prove himself as a bonafide star this year.

Something to keep an eye on - Dalton Pompey

The Jays don’t have a legitimate option as a lead-off hitter thanks to the injury of Devon Travis. Even when Travis comes back, it’s probably a good idea to have a couple of guys who can fill that void, especially since there are so many sluggers on the team.  Dalton Pompey is a guy who can do just this.  Even though he struggled to get on base at times in the majors last season, his minor league numbers suggest that he can profile as that lead-off stud. Plus, he’s got great speed and power upside to boot. When Michael Saunders gets hurt within the first few weeks of the season, look for Pompey to come up and make some noise.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^

  1. Troy Tulowitzki - SS
  2. Josh Donaldson - 3B
  3. Jose Bautista - RF
  4. Edwin Encarnacion - DH
  5. Russell Martin - C
  6. Chris Colabello - 1B
  7. Michael Saunders* - LF
  8. Ryan Goins* - 2B
  9. Kevin Pillar - CF

Projected Bench

Josh Thole*

Justin Smoak^

Darwin Barney

Ezequiel Carrera*

Projected Rotation… Lefties*

  1. Marcus Stroman
  2. RA Dickey
  3. Marco Estrada
  4. JA Happ
  5. Aaron Sanchez

Projected Bullpen

Drew Storen - Closer

Roberto Osuna

Brett Cecil*

Jesse Chavez

Steve Delabar

Drew Hutchison

Gavin Floyd

Fantasy Bargain - Kevin Pillar

Pillar was never a huge name prospect and he is known for his glove. He also gets lost in the sea of amazing power hitters on his own team. Truth is that Pillar is a valuable fantasy player. He contributes in all categories and he plays every day. He also hits in a lineup that should score more runs than anyone in the league. He’s still young and could break out even more this year. Don’t be afraid to draft Pillar this season.

Overrated Fantasy Option - Aaron Sanchez

Sanchez has been one of the most hyped up pitchers the Blue Jays have brought up in the recent years. He was falsely ranked higher than Marcus Stroman and when the Jays realized he wasn’t hanging as a starter, he enjoyed a few nice seasons as a reliever. This is where he should stay. The fact that he’s being brought back is somewhat unsettling. If he starts, he won’t be worth owning in fantasy because of bad percentage stats. If he is in the bullpen, he won’t be worth owning because the closer on the team will either be Storen or Osuna.

Conclusion/Prediction

Since this is probably the best offense in baseball, you have to assume they are fairly high up on the ‘overall best team’ list as well. They play great defense as well and adding Drew Storen should greatly help their bullpen. The weakness in the area of starting pitching could cause very serious problems for them. Overall, this still looks like a top 5 team in the league. They should go into the season favored to win the AL East and they should be good for 88-92 wins. Their lack of pitching could likely be their Achilles Heel and keep them from going on a World Series run yet again.

VAVEL Logo