The Toronto Blue Jays enter the 2019 season with few expectations on them, but they are likely to provide a different version of baseball
The Toronto Blue Jays are about to embark on a season where they’re likely to finish in 4th place in the American League East. In fact, the only real expectation put on this team (other than calling up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is that they finish higher in the standings than the Orioles.
It’s been said before that this club is primed to change their offensive identity. They figure to be younger, faster and more athletic overall. Sure, there are the Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak type guys on the roster, who do not exactly fit the “faster” descriptor. But, with a changing offense, perhaps those big bats could see an uptick in the amount of runs they drive in. Rather than playing ‘station to station’ and/or sitting back waiting for the big home run, which this club will still hit, by the way, the Blue Jays can utilize the speed that the young guys possess.
Imagine this scenario: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.is on first with Morales at the plate against a righty. The defense might want to think twice about playing the shift against him. A well placed single to the right spot could allow Gurriel to scurry all the way to third…or further. I mean, a lot would have to go right for this to play out, but it is the kind of situation that may not have been as plentiful last season, but could be quite frequent in 2019. We should see more hit and run, more stolen base attempts and all that, which makes a season with no expectations more enjoyable.
However, it does not end there. Manager, Charlie Montoyo is not afraid to try some things differently. Take his outfield positioning this spring against Bryce Harper. Montoyo called for four outfielders as well as the remaining infielders shifted to shift to the right side. It is an interesting strategy since a quick look at Fangraphs shows spray charts for Harper that tell you where his power lies. Obviously a big league manager would have access to more data than that, but it shows a vastly different approach than what we saw from John Gibbons, or any other Blue Jays manager, for that matter. It will be interesting to see if this is something that will become the norm in Toronto. The added bonus of it rubbing Commissioner Manfred the wrong way is an added bonus.
But, wait! There’s more. We learned recently that lefty reliever, Tim Mayza is likely to see playing time at first base this year. It is something the Rays did last year, which Montoyo picked up and looks set to continue with his new club. Rather than putting Mayza on the mound for a lefty batter and then taking him out for a righty, Montoyo can use him at first and then put him on the mound at any point. If he really wants to get creative, the skipper could have 2 relievers take the field in an inning and have them alternate. It is creative and could work rather well. It certainly is new for those who’ve followed the Blue Jays.
All of this combined takes the gamesmanship and strategy inherent in baseball to another level. I like to refer to baseball as chess on a field. We’ve seen bits and pieces of different strategies being used, or at the very least attempted, in the past. It is not clear to what extent Gibby relied on analytics, but the general consensus is that it wasn’t a lot. And, that isn’t a knock on Gibby. Everyone has their strengths.
But, what we’re about to witness in 2019 is exactly what Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro envisioned in their new manager. They’re looking for new ideas, analytically driven decisions and maybe even a little creative trial and error. From what we’ve seen (and heard) so far, it would appear that Charlie Montoyo is about to show us how he meets the criteria.
While the 2019 season is going to be used to evaluate how the Toronto Blue Jays are able to move forward, it will not be without its entertainment and intrigue. It will be fun to watch young talent take the field and test their mettle, for sure. But, it will also be very interesting to watch the in game moves that may just blow the minds of some folks watching at home.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
HEAD ON OVER TO THE JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS STORE AND GET SOME GREAT SWAG THAT YOU WILL LOOK GREAT IN AND YOU CAN FEEL GREAT ABOUT.
YOU CAN ALSO HEAD TO OUR JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS FUNDRAISING PAGE TO MAKE A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION DIRECTLY TO ALS CANADA.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING JAYS FROM THE COUCH! CHECK US OUT ON TWITTER @JAYSFROMCOUCH AND INSTAGRAM. LIKE US FACEBOOK. BE SURE TO CATCH THE LATEST FROM JAYS FROM THE COUCH RADIO
Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.