The Blue Jays arguably have the best offense in baseball. Their lineup is loaded with power hitters who have contended for homer run titles. They did lose one of them to free agency and I’m not sure they did enough this offseason to replace Edwin Encarnacion’s production.
Can Aaron Sanchez repeat his consistent performance from a season ago?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Toronto Blue Jays.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 89-73
Key Additions: DH Kendrys Morales, RP J.P. Howell, RP Dominic Leone, RP Joe Smith, SS Lourdes Gourriel, RP Jeff Beliveau, 2B Jake Elmore, SP Jarrett Grube, SP Mat Latos, SP Brett Oberholtzer, 2B Gregorio Petit & C Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Key Losses: DH Edwin Encarnacion, OF Michael Saunders, SP R.A. Dickey, RP Brett Cecil, RP Joaquin Benoit, RP Drew Storen, SP Scott Feldman & C Josh Thole
Interleague Schedule: NL Central
Projected Starters: Russell Martin, Justin Smoak, Devon Travis, Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Ezequiel Carrera, Kevin Pilar, Jose Bautista & Kendrys Morales
Projected Starting Rotation: Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, Marcus Stroman & Francisco Liriano
Closer: Roberto Osuna
Fantasy Sleeper: 1B Steve Pearce – Pearce is the quintessential platoon candidate. He crushes lefties and could be paired with a guy who struggles against them. Also, Pearce doesn’t do too bad against righties, so he could play a few games outside the platoon. The Blue Jays are expected to try to use Pearce as a utility player, so he could have a few positions added to his eligibility this season.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: None – Toronto has some decent prospects in their system, but none of the best ones are anywhere near ready. 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and OF Anthony Alford are a few years away from appearing in a Blue Jays uniform.
Team Analysis: The Blue Jays had one of the best offenses in the Majors in 2016. The power they had in the middle of their lineup was just so potent. They are still stacked this year, but losing Edwin Encarnacion will be felt all season. You can’t replace someone with his power and ability to get on base. Kendrys Morales will be tasked to do just that.
Toronto’s pitching staff performed much better than expected last season. They had five starters who had at least 29 starts on the year. Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ both have fantastic years and helped lead the Blue Jays into the postseason. I just don’t think you can go very far in the postseason if your best pitchers are Sanchez and Happ. They need one or two top-of-the-rotation arms in the playoffs. They struggled last year because of it.
The AL East is stacked and will be a tough division to win. I don’t think the Blue Jays will get the same performance out of their pitchers and the loss of Edwin Encarnacion will be felt. I think their win total will drop a little because of those reasons.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 85.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 83-79 (3rd in AL East)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.