American League East: Previews and Predictions
Toronto Blue Jays
Baseball Prospectus Projection: 81-81 (4th)
FanGraphs Projection: 86-76 (2nd)
This is where things start to get interesting. If you’re surprised that Baseball Prospectus is so low on them in their projections, well join the club. Their measures don’t see the Blue Jays posting the monstrous run differentials they have over the last two season, instead scoring and allowing 769 runs respectively. By comparison, both of those marks would be the highest in the division.
Numbers wise, the Blue Jays had the best rotation in the American League a season ago with a 3.64 ERA. Without one big name ace, their staff was deceptively good and has a lot of upside with young pitchers like Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. But while there is potential upside, there are also starters that are due for regression – notably J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada. Add in the fact that they made it through the entire season without a serious injury to one of their starting five and they look even more susceptible to a setback.
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There’s also a solid chance that the team’s run of offensive dominance – highlighted by their electric second half in 2015 – is coming to an end. They’re glad to have Jose Bautista back and can still lean on Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki, but they’re also dependent on repeat, if not bounce back, performances from a lot of guys that are over 30. The talent is still there to be sure, but with age comes uncertainty and the Jays have a lot of guys that they can’t be 100% certain with.
When you break it down, the variance between Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs in their Blue Jays projections starts to make much more sense.