With the team busy in the offseason and the young guys gaining experience in 2020 – the Blue Jays should be one of the best teams in the American League in 2021.
Youth and hitting are the biggest storylines for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2021. The young core of hitters made strides last season – helping the Jays secure a spot in the expanded postseason, despite playing the entire year in Buffalo. This year starts similar – with the Blue Jays calling Dunedin home for at least a few months. Playing
While this team is not quite at the level of the Toronto Maple Leafs – who is a Stanley Cup favourite –what we should expect from the Blue Jays this season is a playoff calibre season with a few guys on the roster in contention for some year-end awards.
The Blue Jays Back in the Postseason
The Blue Jays overcame the challenges of playing in a new park in a different city last season to make the expanded MLB playoffs. That 2020 club finished with a .533 winning percentage – seventh-best in the American League. With the playoffs returning to five teams from each circuit, the Jays need to move up the standings to make it back to the postseason. After a busy offseason and productive Spring Training, we are betting they will do just that.
The Jays added one of the top free agents in the offseason – George Springer. Springer is a three-time All-Star and former World Series MVP. They also inked Marcus Semien – to a low-risk one-year deal. Semien is only two years removed from finishing third in the voting for AL MVP.
Adding those two to go with the young stars – Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, and Bo Bichette plus Teoscar Hernandez – gives the Jays one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball.
The Jays still have some holes in their rotation – although you should keep an eye on Steven Matz having a career renaissance – that keeps them out of the upper echelon of teams this season. But the lineup is potent and should get them back into the playoffs in 2021.
Teoscar Hernandez To Be a Productive Hitter Again
After two relatively productive seasons with the Toronto Blues Jays – Hernandez exploded in 2020, bashing 16 home runs and a .579 slugging % in 50 games, good enough for fifth and seventh in the American League.
Over Spring Training, Hernandez is slugging .500 – better than every year but his last. His previous best mark (in a season with at least 100 plate appearances) was 2019 when he slugged .472 and belted 26 dingers for the Jays in 125 games.
Hernandez is a better hitter than he was in 2019. While a 50 burger – what his 2020 numbers extrapolate to over 162 games – is unreasonable to expect, over 30.5 home runs for the season is an excellent bet.
Vlad Jr. Turns into an MVP Candidate in 2021
|To Win AL MVP|
Here is a snapshot of Vlad’s 2021 Spring Training numbers – .421 batting average, 1.247 OPS, seven walks to five strikeouts. He was arguable – not just the best Blue Jay in Spring Training, but the best hitter in all of baseball.
Vlad spent the offseason slimming down – losing 42lbs from last summer to the start of ST. The transformer has Vlad feeling quicker while also working on flexibility to help his fielding.
The decisions and dedication from Vlad this offseason are the types that transform a player once considered the top prospect in baseball into an MVP candidate.
Ryu Due to Finally Win a CY Young Award
|To Win the Cy Young Award|
|Hyun Jin Ryu||15.00|
Last year’s signing of Hyun Jin Ryu paid instant dividends for the Blue Jays – as he was one of the best pitchers in the American League last season. Ryu ranked high in a bunch of pitching categories last season – including second in WAR, fourth in adjusted ERA+, and eighth in adjusted pitching runs. Ryu’s production – both in traditional and advanced metrics – helped him land third in 2020 CY Young voting.
Ryu has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last three seasons (which includes two with the Los Angeles Dodgers). Over the previous three years, Ryu’s ERA is 2.30 over 332.0 innings pitched with a WHIP of only 1.036. He also finished second in CY Young voting in 2019.
While not as flashy as some pitchers, he is as reliable as any guy the last three seasons. If not for a historically productive season from Shane Bieber and two rocky starts to start his Jays tenure, he likely should have won the CY Young last. We expect him to be back in the mix again in 2021 – and he worth betting will win the 2021 AL Cy Young.
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