Jays From the Couch looks at early Toronto Blue Jays fantasy rankings
Like many others around Canada, North America, and the World my morning consists of some level of waking up, having breakfast, prepping myself and the kids for work and school…and setting my fantasy lineup for the day. It started with only football, for myself, as a way to stay more connected with the game and have more interest than just my favorite team, and have an interest in what is going on around the entire league. The same can be said for baseball to some degree when I started playing, but it was for a different reason personally.
After the ‘94 lockout season I lost a lot of interest in baseball, holding a grudge for locking the players out and the “conspiracy” of not allowing three straight World Series North of the border. Later, to move the Expos to Washington D.C., city that had originally been left out when the Jays and Mariners were awarded franchises in ‘76. And yes, conspiracy. I took it personally as a Canadian, and defended my stance on that not even watching a game until the Blue Jays signed Roger Clemens in 1997.
But I digress, back to fantasy, it is estimated that 59.3 million people in North America played some sort of fantasy sports in 2017…that makes for about 20% of the whole population. For Yahoo alone, there is around 200,000 baseball leagues in 2018 meaning about 2 million strong for this baseball season. Everyone has their favorite teams, favorite players and their own ideals and fantasy strategies. I love the Blue Jays, obviously, and although I could almost put together an entire Jays fantasy team with the players available…I am not sure how successful I would be.
That being said, the Toronto Blue Jays were rather underrated heading into this season in my eyes. Sure, for preseason rankings you had Josh Donaldson (31st overall), Justin Smoak (90th overall) who were the only two batters in the top 100 and it shows in terms of ownership with those being the only two Jays in 90% plus range of ownership. On the mound, Roberto Osuna was the only Jays pitcher ranked in he top 100 (at 85) in the preseason and the only Toronto pitcher to be owned in over 90% of leagues at 98%, although Marcus Stroman is close at 88% and Aaron Sanchez at 81%.
This gets me a little, I had Ryan Tepara guide me through my fantasy season in 2017 with a top 100 ranking all year. Sadly, though, he was ranked at 386 by Yahoo to start the season. On that note, Roberto Osuna finished in the top 50 but, as previously mentioned, started the season at 85. That brings up an interesting point, how do these players perform according to their rankings, and how could we categorize them? Read on:
I think the best way to describe the Jays fantasy players for reporting and analysis purposes would be that they have a couple stars in Donaldson and Justin Smoak, then a bunch of sleepers and some sentimental favorites. Guys who may not win you a fantasy championship, but would fill in nicely for injured players or guys with the day off. For example, Yangervis Solarte had a solid year in San Diego last season and I was excited to see the Jays sign him. He was on one of my fantasy teams in 2017, but was a fill in player. One thing about fantasy baseball, is that the players will be listed with more than one fielding position if they play more than 5 games at a position. Solarte is one of those with 3B, SS, 2B and is a great infield filler as you can have one sub for the whole infield. This might allow you to carry an extra pitcher with an extra player like that. Even Russell Martin has a designation at 3B which proves helpful as well. Here is how the Jays rank through Saturday, the 7th of April and their preseason ranking:
As you can see from this Yahoo Fantasy screenshot, Justin Smoak has improved by 68 spots; Josh Donaldson is performing about right where projected; with Kevin Pillar, Aledmys Diaz, Russell Martin and Steve Pearce with improvements of 335, 1099, 916 and 902 respectively. Like I said before, underrated. The biggest disappointment may be Randal Grichuk to this point, still trying to get his feet under him in the AL East. He’s in 446 spot drop in fantasy rankings with only one home run and a meager 2 hits to start his season.
When we look at Blue Jays pitching to start the season, they are really showing promise as suspected, and much like the batters, are showing that maybe they have been a little underrated at the onset of this season. Looking at the graphic below you will see improvements according to Pre-Season rankings for almost the entire fantasy roster. Roberto Osuna had a Pre-Season Rank for the highest on the team, and one of the best relievers in the league and performing better than expected as the 43rd overall fantasy player to this point; Jaime Garcia may be showing the largest jump with an 840 spot rise; J.A. Happ is performing about where predicted and John Axford is showing he is feeling at home with a 766 spot improvement. The only real disappointments to this point are Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman…both with recent injury history but have proclaimed themselves as healthy and ready to go. They are sitting 526 and 582 spots below their rankings this season.
Marcus Stroman, just this past Saturday evening had a tough go against a Texas Rangers team that came ready play, but pitching in termperatures that if you were feeling stiffness, would be tough to stay loose on the mound with a game time temperature of 5 degrees Celsius. Toronto has been looked at for having a tough rotation with the addition of Jaime Garcia, and one of the more experienced or game proven bullpens in the league. Finally, they might be able to bridge their starters and closer Roberto Osuna like other successful teams do with set up guys like Ryan Tepera, Tyler Clippard and John Axford…men who could, and have been, closers at some point in their careers throughout the league.
I will continue to refer back to Fantasy success for the Blue Jays players as the season wears on. Their success on the fantasy page, should translate directly into team success as it has in the past. The higher number of relevant fantasy players you have, the higher you are in the standings…please refer to the 2017 Houston Astros, with everyone on the team being considered for fantasy rosters around the continent.
So moving forward, do your homework, set your lineups and make the push for your fantasy championship this September. Maybe, I will be able to provide some sound advice from a Blue Jays perspective. BW
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