In the rebuilding season of 2019, the Toronto Blue Jays have successfully built a solid core of young position players.
If you measure a team’s success or failure in a season by wins and losses, the Toronto Blue Jays had a terrible 2019.
The thing is, you have to keep in mind that this past season was always about building for the future for Toronto. With that as the standard, the 2019 was a success.
Some fans have a tough time buying in to this, in a 67-95 season, which is understandable.
As the Blue Jays official Twitter account recently posted, Blue Jays rookies ranked first in hits (535), doubles (115) HRs (97), extra base hits (218), RBIs (284) and walks (224). This is truly impressive, but let’s delve a bit further in to the numbers.
How much of this is due to a superior rookie class and how much is due to the sheer volume of rookie’s used by the 2019 Jays?
Not surprisingly, Toronto led all 30 MLB teams in rookie plate appearances in 2019 with 2,481. The Detroit Tigers were second with 2,201 followed by the Miami Marlins at 1,882.
Looking at rookie fWAR, the Jays are number one by a wide margin at 7.2. The second place team, the Pittsburgh Pirates have 5.4.
Some other teams in the top 10 are there due to strong performances by one rookie. The Astros 5.3 came mostly from consensus AL Rookie of the year Yordan Alvarez at 3.8. The Mets 4.6 would have been even higher if Pete Alonso (4.8) had been their only rookie.
While the Blue Jays may not have the 2019 rookie of the year, as a group they are head and shoulders ahead of the rest of MLB.
Another thing to consider is that not all of the Blue Jays rookies will ultimately be part of the team’s future. Breyvic Valera (0.1 fWAR) Rowdy Tellez (0.1 fWAR), Billy McKinney (0.0 fWAR) Jonathan Davis (-0.1 fWAR) and Anthony Alford (-0.1 fWAR) may or may not be around when the team returns to contention.
To really get a good idea of what this means for the future, I’m going to focus on five rookie position players who I consider to be a lock to continue their Jays tenure: Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Reese McGuire and Danny Jansen.
Looking at that group, Jansen is the only one whose offensive season was sub par statistically. Jeff Quatrociocchi did a great job in a recent article analyzing the numbers which suggest that part of Jansen’s offensive struggles were due to bad BAPIP luck. His defensive progression more than made up for it though, as he was fourth among MLB catchers in DRS.
Considering fWAR, Biggio had the best season among Jays rookies at 2.4. Bo Bichette had 1,7 in only 46 games and McGuire 1.2 in 30 games. I believe Guerrero Jr merely scratched the surface of his ability in 2019 and ultimately will be worth much more than the 0.4 fWAR he posted in 2019 as a 20 year old.
As a group, that fabulous five was good for 7.1 fWAR, which is also first among each team’s top 5 rookies.
Then consider that one of their best players in 2019, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was a sophomore. His .869 OPS was fourth best on the Jays, third if you eliminate pitcher Trent Thornton‘s 1.333 in three at bats. Teoscar Hernandez may finally have solidified his ability as a major league hitter. After the all star break, he hit .259/.346/.592.
Anyone who follows the Blue Jays knows that they need to improve their pitching staff to return to contention in the future. Once they do that, the future could be very bright for this group.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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