In 2010 the Toronto Blue Jays did not actually hit 397 home runs against the Yankees, while using a starting rotation composed entirely of lefthanded junk-ballers to hold the Bombers to only 4 runs en-route to a record of 114-2 against a division rival. It just seemed that way.
Instead, the 2010 Blue Jays hit 209 home runs versus all of their opponents, and compiled a 10-8 record against the Yankees. This was, believe it or not, the first time the Yankees managed a losing record against Toronto in the Unbalanced Schedule Era. The Jays’ overall 85-77 record can only be considered less than a success in the hyper-competitive AL East. Anywhere else last season’s Blue Jays would have been contenders.
The 2010 Blue Jays used an unusual recipe for success. On offense, the Jays sacrificed on-base percentage for the long ball. Of the nine players who led the team in PA’s, according to Baseball Reference, eight of them hit at least 17 bombs. Of them, Jose Bautista was the team’s breakout player. He smashed 54 home runs (I swear 41 of them came against the Yankees) during a 166 OPS+ season that featured a strong, team-leading .378 OBP. That same lineup that was so effective at hitting home runs featured six different players with OBPs below .330, making their offense something of a binary outcome. The players either made out, or put it in the people.
Toronto complemented its offensive assault with young, balanced pitching. Two of the team’s starters, Ricky Romero and Shaun Marcum, had ERA+’s of 111 or better. Two more, Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow, had ERA+’s of at least 92, while every major reliever in the team’s bullpen had an ERA+ of at least 100.
Although the combination led to a 4th-place finish in the AL East, Toronto has a solid young nucleus in place that figures to get better. Speaking as a Yankee fan, no team frightened me more last season, in part because the Blue Jays happened to be built to optimize success against the Bombers, but mostly because these guys are good. And they are going to stay good.
The table below summarizes the stats of the team’s core contributors in 2010.
So far this offseason Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulous has not been happy to leave well enough alone. The team has made a number of moves. The biggest move Anthopoulous made was trading Vernon Wells to the Angels. He managed to turn a bounce-back season from Wells into perhaps the most impressive salary dump in baseball history (the aging, under-performing Wells is due an additional $86 million over four years). That move alone should earn Anthopoulous GM of the year, but the 2011 version of the Blue Jays will look considerably different from the 2010 vintage.
The table below was taken from RotoChamp.com. It is their best guess of the 2011 Toronto lineup. They provided two projection systems for the 2011 season, their own, and CAIRO. Given that they did not provide FIP for pitchers I’ve also included that, as the MARCEL system projected it on Fangraphs. Mat Germain of Blue Jays blog Jays Journal was kind enough to confirm that the RotoChamp lineup below projects correctly.
Mat has pointed out that while the lineup above is largely correct, Edwin Encarnacion may bat ahead of Juan Rivera while Kyle Drabek is probably the team’s fourth starter. Corey Patterson and the recently signed Scott Podsednik figure as possible fourth outfielders.
Although RotoChamp’s projections like the 2011 Blue Jays much more than CAIRO, this projects as a good team, a candidate to win 85-90 games. The team still figures to have a bevy of power-hitters, led by none other than Yankee Killer Jose Bautista himself, but this offseason the Blue Jays have also addressed their on-base deficiencies. If the more optimistic projection is true, then Arencibia will be the only player in the Toronto lineup with an OBP below .310. In 2010 four of their largest contributors had OBPs lower than .310. Improving plate discipline without sacrificing much of the team’s trademark power figures to improve in 2011 what was already a potent offense. (Yankee fans may take some solace in the fact that neither system feels Bautista will repeat his ridiculous 2010, although he projects to keep 30+ homer power.)
The difference between the optimistic RotoChamp projection and the more pessimistic CAIRO projection is most clear on the pitching side of the ledger. Depending upon which system you trust the Blue Jays either project to have a phenomenal starting rotation or a solid one. For my part I’m voting with the RotoChamp system because its projection tracks closer to what the Blue Jays’ pitchers did last season, and aligns nicely with Marcel’s FIP projections for their rotation. Regardless the system you trust, the Blue Jays will have a strong rotation, one that is currently stronger than the Yankee rotation, while projecting to maintain a reliable bullpen.
The 201o Yankees posted losing records against two teams in the American League. The Tampa Bay Rays were one of those teams. The Toronto Blue Jays were the other. The three-way playoff race between New York, Tampa and Boston in the AL East overshadowed an excellent season by the Toronto Blue Jays in what could have been considered a rebuilding year. This offseason the team has improved. Gone are many of the players who dragged down the team’s OBP, and they were jettisoned for players with improved discipline who won’t sacrifice much of the team’s trade mark power. Add to that a young, improving rotation, and the Blue Jays have to be taken seriously in the playoff conversation in 2011. They would need only to improve slightly while one of the giants of the AL East would need only to fall slightly for Toronto to find itself in the Wild Card hunt. Finally, if you’re betting the over-under for the number of homers Jose Bautista will hit in Yankee Stadium, take the over.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Brand bc on Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- http://2804lasela.wordpress.com/ on TYA Predictions: Bold predictions for 2012
- the tao of badass pdf on What about Austin Romine?
- Joey Parkhill on Dante Bichette Jr’s Swing
- lululemon factory outlet on Contact Us
- Cary on Will R.A. Dickey’s Knuckleball Succeed In A Domed Stadium?
- Brenna on Links: Prospects, Support for A-Rod, Mariano is Love and Who’s in Center?
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
- Louis Vuitton Outlet San Diego on Banuelos to Undergo Tommy John Surgery, Yankees Prospectors to Undergo Grief Counseling
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees