The Toronto Blue Jays are well positioned for their second consecutive playoff in three seasons. This will be their first appearance after the season under 162 conventional games since 2016. Toronto has one of the best squads in all of Major League Baseball this season. They are led by a strong core that has grown and thrived together over the past several years.
In a somewhat unexpected move, the franchise decided to make a change of management position near the halfway point in the season. Charlie Montoyo has been captain at Toronto since 2019 before he was relieved of his duties. After a difficult first season, Montoyo and the Blue Jays made the playoffs in the short 2020 season but failed to advance past the first round. In 2021, despite winning 91 games, Toronto finished fourth in the crowded AL East region and missed the post-season. The club started this season slowly when expectations were high, starting at just 46 to 42 and pushing the change. Following the dismissal of Montoyo, they decided to appoint bench coach John Schneider as interim manager for 2022. He has performed well so far, scoring 38-23 as the regular season comes to a close.
Toronto trails the New York Yankees by six and a half games in the Middle East. They currently hold the top spot in the MLS, two games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners. They have a huge 6 1/2 game lead over the best non-playoff team in AL at the moment.
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The Toronto Blue Jays were among the best teams in the league from an offensive standpoint in 2022. They led every MLB in batting with a .262 team batting average and led the AL in the base percentage and OPS. They also occupy the top four in batting, doubles, RBI and total bases in MLB.
Unlike many other teams, there is not one or two people who stand out from the rest of the squad. There are many players who have produced in a similar way compared to each other. The squad consists of eight regular players who have OPS+ between 112 and 137. Of those eight players, they all have wRC+ (weighted runs created) between 112 and 138, according to FanGraphs.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., last year’s AL MVP runner-up, was arguably the best of the bunch. Despite not owning his MVP-caliber season last year, he was still a very productive hitter in 2022. The face of the franchise hit .279/.343/.489 with 30 home runs and 88 rounds. Jr. also recorded his career highs in doubles with 34 stolen eight bases.
There are also great offensive seasons like Beau Bechet and George Springer. Bichette hits .283/ .328/ .474 with 24 home runs and 89 RBI. His playing operations have steadily decreased every year since entering the league in 2019, but the young junior player is still well above the league’s batting average with 126 OPS+ in 2022. Springer has been a very dependable hitter throughout his career. Since coming from the Houston Astros after the 2020 season, he’s been consistent. Springer hits .261/.340/.454 with 21 home runs and 67 RBI. He’s also stolen 13 bases this season, just three times shy of his career highs in 2015.
The duo of Alejandro Kirk and Danny Janssen behind the home plate for Toronto were fantastic. Kirk has proven he can handle the workload that comes with a full season, 2022 being his first full year in the major leagues. He made his first All-Star .299/ .385/ .433 with 13 home runs and 134 OPS+ in the year. Although early in his career, he achieved his career bests in strike rate and walking rate. Janssen has been with Toronto his entire career and had a remarkable year on the plate in 2022. The 27-year-old achieved .258/.332/.511 with a career rise of 13 times in 208 plate appearances. Jansen’s OPS+ of 137 leads the team, although he only has about a third of the board appearances some others in the Toronto squad have accumulated.
He was traded to the Blue Jays during the offseason from the Oakland Athletics, and third baseman Matt Chapman was very effective. He is best known for his defensive tackle, with three gold and two platinum gloves in the hot corner. However, his offensive production wasn’t something to scoff at. Chapman cuts .238/.328/.459 with 27 home runs, 27 doubles and 75 RBI. He’s been hitting more than usual in the past three seasons, but his ability to pull and walk for strength at decent rates has helped make his value.
Defender Tuscar Hernandez had another above-average offensive season with Toronto. The 29-year-old averaged .259/ .311/ .462 on the year with 20 starting points and 67 RBI. Hernandez hits the ball harder than ever in his career. He ranks 95th in average exit speed and 98th in hardest hit percentage, according to Baseball Savant. His average exit speed of 95.3 mph is the toughest of his career.
Another of the most influential players in the squad is the versatile Lord Goriel Jr. The 28-year-old scored .291/.343/.400 with 32 hits in 2022. He increased his walking rate and lowered his hitting rate. But his strength took a huge hit. Gurriel only has five runs a season, well below his career averages.
Breakout star leads staff
The Toronto Blue Jays’ first rotation has seen a few players struggle this season, but the appearance of 24-year-old Alec Manoah has been a welcome sight for the staff. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound right-hander has taken big strides to improve his rookie year in 2021 that turned some heads. Manoah has a 2.40 ERA and 1,007 WHIP per season. In 183 rounds of action in 29 starts, he hit 168 hitters. For the second year in a row, he led the AL in hitting the courts, but controlled his leadership with an improved walking rate compared to last season.
In his first year as Blue Jay, Kevin Gausman has had a solid 29 start for Toronto in 2022. The 31-year-old veteran scored a 3.32 ERA and an AL-best 2.37 FIP per season. Gausman has a strike average of 10.6 per nine innings and 1.5 walks per nine innings. He also limited opposing hitters to just 14 home runs in 165 rounds, less than one for every nine innings.
Fellow veteran, Ross Strebling, had his best season since 2018 when he was a star on the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has an identical ERA and FIP, both of which are currently running 3.21. In 22 starts, he did well as he limited the long ball with only 12 surrenders in 123 runs. He also set career lows in Walking Rate and WHIP in 2022.
There were some disappointments in rotating Toronto in 2022. Acquired from the Minnesota Twins before the 2021 trade deadline, Jose Berrios has struggled this year. Sitting his age less than five, his ability to strike has eluded him. The opposition hitters had a hit against the Prius, scoring .284/.335/.468, all her worst career since 2016. The strike rate was 7.7 per nine runs, also the worst since 2016.
Yossi Kikuchi was even more difficult in 2022. The Japanese left-back is in his first year with Toronto after spending three seasons with Seattle. His ERA improved every year with the Mariners, but 2022 was Toronto’s first rough season. He has a 5.53 ERA and 5.90 FIP with an ERA + 71 lateral. Unlike many of his teammates in rotation, he wasn’t able to show leadership on the pile. His career of 5.3 walks per nine rounds and 23 times in less than 100 runs led to his death in 2022.
In the Toronto Blue Jays, no bowler has always been among the elite in baseball that few other teams would claim. Although there are plenty of painkillers that can get the job done when called upon.
The trio of Jordan Romano, David Phelps and left-hander Tim Meeza are all playing under-three esports in 2022. They all have nine first-half games with strike rates of eight or higher. Romano, with 34 team saves, and Phelps only allowed six joint home runs in 118 runs between the two.
Adam Semper and Yimi Garcia were equally good right-handers, each having had electronic development epochs just above three and FIPs hovering around 3.50. On his second run with the Blue Jays, Anthony Bass has been impressive, having only made 1.37 ERAs in 22 games since getting them from the Miami Marlins before this year’s trade deadline.
Rowdy at the Rogers Center
Without a doubt one of the best post-season atmospheres in all of baseball, Toronto’s playoffs can be crazy in 2022. With the roof closed in October and a classic running horn reverberating throughout the dome, Rogers Center provides an electric environment during a period after the season. This Toronto Blue Jays squad has the firepower needed to beat any opposing attack in baseball. The rotation is not as deep as they were hoping for due to some underperformance in the starting lineup. However, there is plenty of experience to pair with the budding ace of Manoah who seems determined to perform on the biggest stages. The Bull runs fairly deep and should be able to hold his own when called in large places.
The last time Toronto won the World Championships was in 1993 when they beat the Phillies 4-2. In Game Six, Blue Jays legend Joe Carter raced three runs at home to wrap up back-to-back championships. If there’s any magic left in the previously named SkyDome, the Blue Jays have a chance to extract it in 2022, riding bats from their young stars in the line-up. At the very least, it should be a lively Toronto scene if they host the three-game Wild Card series.