blue jays take the field- Credit: DaveMe Images

The Blue Jays will improve in 2022

Building on the success of the 2021 season, there are plenty of reasons for optimism for the 2022 Toronto Blue Jays.


Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase


 


The Blue Jays won 91 games in 2021. Unfortunately they fell one game short of a tiebreaker game for a playoff spot. Their goal in 2022 is to make the playoffs and have a shot at a championship. But what will it take to get them there?

 

Subtractions

On paper it looks like they have an uphill battle. They lost three key free agents in Marcus Semien (6.6 fWAR, Texas Rangers), Robbie Ray (3.9 fWAR, Seattle Mariners) and Steven Matz (2.7 fWAR, St Louis Cardinals)

 

What can the Jays do to replace 13.2 in fWAR?

 

The Replacement

A day before they officially lost Ray to the Mariners, the Jays signed Kevin Gausman to a 5 year, $110 million contract. In terms of fWAR in 2021, Gausman actually outperformed Ray (4.8 vs 3.9).

 

Steamer projects Ray’s 2022 fWAR will be 3.6 and Gausman’s 3.3. I consider this to be essentially a wash. Gausman has a good chance to make up for Ray’s lost production. The Jays are left to find 9.3 fWAR.

 

A Full Season

Alek Manoah made his MLB debut in late May for the Blue Jays. He had an impressive rookie campaign which was good for 2.0 fWAR in 20 games. Assuming the same effectiveness over a full season in the majors, that could be good for 3.0 fWAR, an increase of 1.0.

 

The Jays’ major acquisition at the trade deadline was Jose Berrios. He made 12 starts for Toronto and was good for 1.7 fWAR during that time. Let’s assume that he makes 30 starts in 2022. At that same pace, that would work out to 4.25 fWAR for the season, an increase of 2.55.

 

In theory it’s very possible that both pitchers could exceed their 2021 performance. As impressive as Manoah was last season, he would be that much better if he learned better command of the strike zone. Berrios had a couple of forgettable outings with the Jays. He then made a mechanical adjustment and for the rest of the season he had a 2.93 era and a .252 wOBA.

 

George Springer’s Health.

George Springer was tied for 7th on the Jays with 2.4 fWAR in spite of the fact that he only played in 78 games. Best case – he stays healthy all season and doubles his output in terms of games played and fWAR.

 

Of course there is no guarantee about his health (or anyone else’s for that matter). In an attempt to avoid being unrealistically optimistic, I’ll just assume a 50% increase in both in 2022, so + 1.2.

 

Internal Improvements

There is considerable opportunity for certain players already with the Jays to contribute a lot more than they did last season. I’m thinking specifically of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Danny Jansen and Cavan Biggio.

 

Gurriel Jr (1.5 fWAR) struggled early in the season. After a mid-season mechanical adjustment he was one of the Jays’ hottest hitters down the stretch. His wRC+ from August-October was 149, compared to 107 for the season.

 

Some Jays fans were ready to give up on Jansen (1.4 fWAR) early in the season. His wRC+ of MINUS 40 in April may have been partly due to back luck. His BABIP in April was .063.

 

From May through the end of the season, Jansen’s wRC + was 151.

 

Biggio (-0.1 fWAR) had a sub par season in 2021. I believe he played hurt for much of the season. He was good for 3.7 fWAR in his first 159 MLB games in 2019-2020. I very much expect him to bounce back in 2022.

 

I think it’s very reasonable to expect this trio, as a group, to be worth 1.0 fWAR more than they were in 2021.  (I actually expect a much bigger improvement but I’m trying to avoid overestimating the likely improvement)

 

Addition by Subtraction

The Jays employed a number of players in 2021 whose performance was worse than replacement level. The good news is that most of them are no longer in the organization.

 

The Jays got a cumulative total of -3.0 fWAR from Jared Hoying, Jonathan Davis, Patrick Murphy, Joaqim Soria, Jake Lamb, Jarrod Dyson, Carl Edwards Jr. Tanner Roark, Travis Bergen, Rowdy Tellez, Joe Panik, Brad Hand and Riley Adams.

 

Hopefully most or all players who see playing time with the Jays in 2022 will be no worse than replacement level (hopefully significantly better). If they manage to not have any below replacement level players then that’s + 3 right there.

 

Toronto

The Jays won a total of 22 home away from home games in Dunedin and Buffalo. Once they were actually able to come home to Toronto, they won 25 additional home games from July 30-October 3.

 

This is a tougher one to predict. Their home winning percentage in Toronto would have meant 30 wins in Dunedin/Buffalo. I’m sure it isn’t realistic to attribute a winning perspective equivalent to eight extra wins in just over two months to being home in their MLB ballpark playing in front of 15,000-30,000 Jays starved fans per game. Still I can’t help but feel that was a part of it.

 

I’m going to speculate (conservatively I believe) that playing all 81 games in Toronto in 2022 will get them one extra win.

 

They Aren’t Done Adding

Assuming all of the above happens, that’s an extra 9.75 fWAR, slightly more than they lost with the departures of Semien and Matz. The Jays were very aggressive in the off season before the lockout, signing Gausman and relief pitcher Yimi Garcia, and signing Berrios to a 7 year extension. Gausman and Garcia were both rumoured to have turned down more money elsewhere because they like what the Jays have to offer.

 

There are upgrades to the current roster available, either by free agency or trades. Whether it’s a fifth starter, an established 3B or something else, I’m certain that more reinforcements are coming.

 

Blue Jays fans have an exciting 2022 season to look forward to.

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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