Jays From the Couch takes a close look at how the Toronto Blue Jays roster looks within fantasy rankings.
Fantasy has become reality for Kevin Pillar early in this 2018 season. What was once thought as an early season peak, has turned into a streak which has skyrocketed Kevin Pillar to the 35th overall player position in Yahoo Fantasy Rankings (and a big credit to Yahoo Fantasy for providing some great information). With a .312 AVG, 39 hits, 22 Runs, and 19 RBIs the Center Fielder has shown an improvement of 333 spots in the rankings. He leads the Jays in Runs Scored and SBs with 6, and has added another 4 HRs to improve his stock. To add, he is leading a team that is performing on a meta .500 record and contending for the Wildcard spot in the American League. But can their success be accredited to Kevin PIllar leading this team in fantasy ranking, or discredited in the form of the Jays being held back in the standings by his teammates who are underperforming?
It is likely an age old question that every sports writer for every team could touch on just the same. What can confidently be said is that he is getting some help. He is not going at this alone, and due to some early season injuries, some players are getting more chances than expected they would. Some, are getting an opportunity when they didn’t think they would get any at all.
Yangervis Solarte is a welcome surprise. We all knew he was a decent player with San Diego in 2017, and expected his defense to be solid and be able to provide some depth to this infield. He not only did that during Donaldson’s absence, but he replaced his bat too. Solarte is ranked just behind Pillar in overall ranking at 43rd, and sitting 307 spots ahead of his pre-season prediction. We expected the .277 average but the 9 HRs and 22 RBIs are leading this team…and by a comfortable margin asd well. From a non-fantasy perspective, he is giving this team some excitement and character. It is so often that a team molds into the personality of their Manager, and John Gibbons is not necessarily always personified as a character, but he does stand up for what he believes and for his team. Solarte gives excitement, fun and youthful enjoyment to this team…something that has not always been used in the same sentence with this team.
A Welcome Surprise?
Although personally, it is not much of a surprise to me, Teoscar Hernandez has been on a tear lately. He has brought in a hot bat, while the majority of the team seems to be cooling off and falling back into mediocrity. Although he is still ranked 143 overall, which is great for the amount he has played, he is inside the top 100 over the past 2 weeks meaning he is trending up. Another useful tidbit, if you look at Teoscar from an average performance by the numbers over the sample of games he has given us, he is second in Toronto, and 70th in the league…second to only Josh Donaldson, who had a 10 game or so break and sits at 43rd in the league in this category with about an average of one hit, RBI and Run per game played.
The biggest disappointment…
This is a close call, but unfortunately there is more than one player I could lump into this sub-category. A toss up between Randal Grichuk, Kendrys Morales and Devon Travis. Mind you, all 3 have landed themselves on the injured list so far, but so has Josh Donaldson and I already mentioned what he is doing. Grichuk is out currently, Travis has been assigned to Buffalo, and Morales just got back…notably he could have been worse too as he cracked off a couple HRs in the last week to lead they Jays past Minnesota. Those three players are well below rankings at sit 562, 497 and 582 spots respectively behind their pre-season rankings. Yuck!
On the mound…
…the Jays have fared, well, not as well as we would like to see this season. Tyler Clippard is leading the way in overall Jays pitching fantasy ranking, sitting at 70th. With 18K’s in 17 IP and a tidy 1.56 ERA and sub one WHIP he is cruising along nicely. He also has 4 W’s to this point, tied with JA Happ for the team lead in that stat. Happ is easily the Jays best starter and aside from his 4 wins has amassed 53 K’s through Saturday, and that is only over 41 innings…among the lead leaguers in K/9IP.
A Nice Surprise?
To some maybe, but in my Season Preview article I mentioned John Axford could be a welcome addition to this team, and he has shown it. He has been solid to say the least, and sits almost 900 spots above his pre-season Yahoo ranking currently at 276. That number in itself does not seem amazing but he has been in a middle relief role coming in before Clippard so he is not necessarily in a win or save position, but has held the opposition at bay with an impressive 1.65 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, along with hovering right around that 1K/IP mark. Going forward, although Ryan Tepera has cooled off slightly, the trio of Axford, Clippard and Tepara will be the identifier for this Jays pen. This bullpen will likely live or die by their successes and failures. Leave the saves to Osuna, he will handle that just fine; but some solid outings by Aaron Loup and Danny Barnes will be needed to keep this team in the playoff hunt too.
The biggest disappointment, on the mound…
…this unfortunately is an easy decision. Marcus Stroman is sitting 784 spots below his original ranking; is still looking for his first win; sports a 7.54 ERA and averaging less than 1K/9IP.. The meager point is, Happ has been taking on other teams aces while Stroman is acting against the lower rotation arms and still not seeing success. Even worse, when you pair Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada with him, 3 starters who are below their projections (a combined 1596 lower) it is no wonder the Jays have slipped outside a Wildcard spot. Between the 3 of them, they have tallied 4 wins…tied with Tyler Clippard and JA Happ whom I previously mentioned. I think it should be safe to say that these three should have somewhere around 9 between them, and if that was the case, 5 more wins would have us talking playoffs, rather than Plan B.
Long story short…there are stars on this team who need to step up their game and earn the paychecks they are being paid, performances like Solarte and Clippard should be viewed as bonuses to compliment this lineup not solely keeping them afloat. Sure, even Justin Smoak last season had a banner year, earned himself an All Star appearance and provided power in the absence of Edwin Encarnacion. This season, he is showing us that it may have been a fluke (although we hope not) with 5 players sitting ahead of him on the Jays alone for HR’s. He showed a huge start and his Home Runs have been timely when he has hit them, but his bat would be helpful right now…along with a couple more arms to get hot. We have talent, we have potential, but we will not have anything unless these stars find their groove.
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