Jays From the Couch compares Toronto Blue Jays 1st base situation to their American League East counterparts
Every Spring baseball blogs everywhere roll out articles to compare how their team stacks up against their competition. Jays From the Couch is no different.
It seems that the Toronto Blue Jays will run with a pair of platoons in 2017. Thanks to the departure of slugger Edwin Encarnacion a platoon is likely to take place at first base. Many Blue Jay fans are scared to death over the realization that Toronto will have Justin Smoak receiving regular at-bats.
So the question is, how does Justin Smoak stack up against the rest of the American League East first baseman?
The American League East has a history of All-Star 1st baseman. In recent years the AL East was home to Mark Teixeira, Chris Davis, and Edwin Encarnacion. Teixeira has retired. Encarnacion has taken his talents over to the AL Central to play with Cleveland.
|Gregory Bird ('15)||11||31||0.795||112||1.3|
I used New York Yankees Greg Bird 2015 stats after he missed all of 2016 due to injury. The return of Bird will be welcomed by all Yankees fans as the club received very little production from Teixeira and company in 2016, finishing near the bottom of the League in every category that matters.
Another important note about the table above is that Mitch Moreland will be replacing Hanley Ramirez as the Boston Red Sox 1st baseman. This moves Hanley to the DH role and allows Boston to drastically improve their defense with Moreland at 1st.
Chris Davis was the AL East’s top offensive 1st baseman in 2016.
Mitch Moreland, Justin Smoak, and Logan Morrison are all in the same group. Moreland could see a spike in his offense coming to a division notorious for having hitter-friendly ballparks. Moreland, Smoak, and Morrison each could hit 30 home runs but none of the trio appears able to make enough contact.
2017 Offensive Projections
The table below was put together utilizing 2017 projections from Fangraphs.com (Depth Chart, Streamer, Fans (12), and ZIPS).
Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis should lead all AL East first baseman again in 2017.
It appears that Greg Bird has the skills to set himself up as one the better offensive 1st baseman if he can play a full year. He is in the league with Davis but he has a chance to put some distance between Smoak, Morrison and Moreland who will struggle to hit 20 home runs.
As good as Chris Davis is with the bat, it appears that Moreland is that good with the glove (A little over dramatic, perhaps). Blue Jays Justin Smoak is supposed to be better around the bag than the numbers show; however, according to my eye test Smoak had his struggles in the field in 2016. It is possible that Smoak will show improvement with more consistent playing time.
Toronto Blue Jays
Two of Toronto’s offseason signing, Steve Pearce and Kendry Morales, have 1st base experience. Either could claim 1st job if Smoak falters.
Top 1st base Prospect- Rowdy Tellez
If Chris Davis is absent from the lineup for any length of time the O’s could turn to Mark Trumbo who has played more than 370 MLB games at 1st.
Top 1st base Prospect- Trey Mancini
New York Yankees
Top 1st base Prospect- Tyler Austin
Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
Overall, Hanley Ramirez was terrible as the Red Sox 1st baseman in 2016, though occasionally he actually looked capable…..at times.
Despite the return of Bird to the Yankees lineup or the Free-Agent signing of Mitch Moreland in Boston, Chris Davis is set to the cream of the AL East 1st baseman once again in 2017. Without a doubt, the Blue Jays are hoping for much more from Justin Smoak than they got in 2016.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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