Fantasy Baseball Team Previews – Toronto Blue Jays

Troy Tulowitzki

The Toronto Blue Jays had a superb season in 2015, going 93-69 to win the AL East before beating the Rangers and then succumbing to the World Champion Royals in the Championship series. They managed to combine a superb offence with a passable rotation to put up monster numbers. This year, Jays will be boosted by the potential of having Marcus Stroman for a full season, but the young pitcher is going to have to shoulder a lot of weight unless this offense can just hit their way to another 90 victories, which is highly possible.

Their offseason has been underwhelming with the additions of J.A. Happ and Jesse Chavez to bolster the rotation. The addition of Drew Storen to the bullpen shows their ambition, but with the departure of David Price means they lack a real ace and their rotation looks frail. Whilst having Stroen is a bonus, having to give up a really good leadoff hitter in the shape of Ben Revere hurts the team, especially when they are going to be relying on offense to make the playoffs again.

AL East

AL Central AL West NL East NL Central NL West

Baltimore

Chicago WS Houston Atlanta Chicago

Arizona

Boston

Cleveland Los Angeles A Miami Cincinnati Colorado

New York Y

Detroit

Oakland New York M Milwaukee

Los Angeles D

Tampa Bay

Kansas City Texas Philadelphia Pittsburgh

San Diego

Toronto Minnesota Seattle Washington St. Louis

San Francisco

Projected Starting Line-up

  1. Troy Tulowitzki
  2. Josh Donaldson
  3. Jose Bautista
  4. Edwin Encarnacion
  5. Chris Colabello
  6. Russell Martin
  7. Michael Saunders (vs RH), Justin Smoak (vs LH)
  8. Kevin Pillar
  9. Ryan Goins (vs RH), Darwin Barney (vs LH)

Jose Bautista

Bautista’s fantasy value has returned to astronomical the past two years, as he has managed to average 154 games as opposed to the 105 he averaged the two years previously. In those two years he has averaged 37.5 homers with 107 RBI and seven steals. However, there was sharp decline in average between 2014 and 15 where he dropped from 0.286 to 0.250. His average has been known to yo-yo in the past so there isn’t any reason to think it cannot come back towards 0.280 a little. Entering this season, I have him projected to post a roto line of 90, 36, 90,8, 0.265, which should put him as a top five hitter. However, given the excitement surrounding the all-around talents of Betts and Pollock don’t be surprised to see him slip into the back half of the top ten and to be available early in the third round.

Josh Donaldson

Can Josh Donaldson repeat his fantastic 2015?

Can Josh Donaldson repeat his fantastic 2015?

As expected, Donaldson prospered from his move to Toronto. Moving from a pitcher friendly park to a hitter friendly park, hitting second in a stacked line-up and being in his prime at 29 was always going to have the potential to reap massive benefits. However, projecting over 120 runs and RBI as well as 41 homers whilst hitting nearly 0.300 was beyond the wildest expectations for many. To enter this year expecting those same other -worldly numbers is probably expecting too much. But 190 total runs and RBI with 35 homers, seven steals and a 0.280 average is a pretty nice fall back that would still make him a top five hitter. Even if we take those projections back a little further, we are still looking at a first round player. However, getting Donaldson right now is requiring a top half of the first round pick in most leagues, but there are plenty of good fall backs at a fairly solid third base position this season.

Edwin Encarnacion

I came into this article all ready to talk about how Edwin is a great hitter but the injuries always derail him. However, when I looked through his stats it became clear that the injury situation is a little overblown. In the past five years, “E5″ has never played less than 128 games and has averaged 140 games played per season. On a per game basis he is only behind Cabrera and Goldschmidt, thanks to the ability to hit 35-40 homers with 175+ total runs and RBI and a more than respectable 0.270 average. Right now E5 is going late in the second round where I believe he can provide a bargain to fantasy owners, especially if Abreu continues to go off the board in front of him.

Troy Tulowitzki

Another guy with the injury prone tag, but also a guy who is an absolute monster when he is on the field. Tulowitzki is projected to be the joint highest shortstop per game and the news that he batting a top the Blue Jays order to start the season is initially quite exciting. Okay, so it will limit his RBI output, but he has legitimate 15-20 homer power even if he was to play just 100 games. His time in Toronto was hampered by a shoulder injury so I see no reason he cannot be at least a 0.280-0.290 hitter this season even if he doesn’t return to the 0.300+ hitter he was in Colorado. The path definitely leads down for Tulo in his career but in this line-up with that talent he could easily return to a 20-homer guy. The key on gambling on Tulo is to make sure you have at least a competent back-up option. The shortstop pool is so weak that in shallow leagues Tulo can be risked as there will at least be a viable option out there. But in deeper leagues, drafting him inside the first five rounds takes a lot of guts.

Chris Colabello

Colabello is an interesting conundrum for me; on one hand he was superb last year hitting 15 homers with 110 total runs and RBI at a 0.321 average in just 360 PA’s; on the other hand, he is entering this season, aged 32, having hit 0.194 and 0.229 the previous two years. To expect him to hit 0.321 again would be foolish but equally it is unfair to just presume he will just regress back to the low 200’s. I have Colabello hitting 0.260 with 18 homers and 120 total runs and RBI placing him just inside the top 25 first basemen. Currently going undrafted, Colabello offers interesting upside in Toronto at a very low price and could play every day now that Navarro is gone and DH will be free for E5 most days.

Kevin Pillar

Pillar is a better defensive player than he is a hitter but he put it all together last year to end the season with 12 homers and 25 steals whilst hitting 0.278. If he was assured of batting in the top two, where there is potential for him to score 100 runs, then he would be among my top 40-45 outfielders but batting 8th sees him slide outside of the top 60.

Russell Martin

Can Russell Martin combine all his best attributes to be an elite catcher in 2015?

Can Russell Martin combine all his best attributes to be an elite catcher in 2016?

Martin had an interesting season last year where he doubled his home run total from 2014 but lost 50 points off his batting average, and 73 off of his OBP. Those numbers were closer to the guy he had been from 2011 to 2013 and that is where my concern lies. Right now I have him projected for 19 homers at a 0.245 average, but having to give up a 10th or 11th round pick, especially in a one catcher league, is a big investment. In two-catcher leagues he offers a nice option as a number one catcher, but in one catcher leagues he doesn’t offer enough advantage over the guys who will go late in the drafts to be worth investing that high of a pick in.

Any Other Business?

  • Devon Travis, 2B: A lot of people are high on Travis but even projecting him for 120 games I still struggle to see how he is anything better than 25th overall at second base.
  • Ryan Goins, 2B: Will start the year in a platoon then could find himself a bench player when Travis returns.
  • Justin Smoak, 1B: His path to playing time relies on Colabello sucking, which is possible, and the Blue Jays not going out looking for a replacement. I just don’t think he can be good enough to be a productive option even in this offence.
  • Darwin Barney, 2B: In a platoon at best. You will have to be desperate to invest.

Projected Rotation

  1. Marcus Stroman
  2. A. Dickey
  3. Marco Estrada
  4. A. Happ
  5. Aaron Sanchez

Marcus Stroman

Can Stroman handle being a staff ace and become a fantasy ace in 2016?

Can Stroman handle being a staff ace and become a fantasy ace in 2016?

Stroman is an interesting player because there is absolutely no doubting that he is a talented pitcher. But, he is being drafted way too high for a guy who hasn’t pitched more than 160 innings in the majors. Stroman has had success so far in the majors, but he is averaging just over seven K’s per 9 and he still pitches in a terrific hitter’s park. My biggest issue in Stroman being selected 27th among starters comes down to the innings pitched. He had a massive injury last year and to expect Toronto just turn him loose and rack up innings is expecting a lot. Toronto has the line-up that could win this division, but behind Stroman their rotation is ropey at best. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if they limit how deep he goes in games during the season so they can use him as their ace in the playoffs. Seeing Stroman getting yanked in the 5th or 6th innings all season, potentially having starts skipped or pushed and striking out just seven batters per nine will drive fantasy owners crazy. I would be fine with him if he was going 40-50th among SP’s, but the price you have to pay right now is way too high.

J.A. Happ & R.A. Dickey

I have both of these guys ending the season in fairly similar spots but doing it in different ways. Happ should have the better ERA and K-rate, but Dickey will go deeper into games and will have the odd game where he confounds hitters. In points leagues I would rather have Dickey, but in roto both are streaming options at best in leagues shallower than 14 teams and low end rotations options in leagues deeper than that.

Aaron Sanchez

Sanchez is the upside guy who has a legitimate shot to grab the fifth starting spot and if he takes it and runs with it he could be really good. However, much like Stroman, he is light on IP’s in his career and his strikeout rate as a starter last year was frankly awful. I don’t see Sanchez being able to pitch enough innings to be relative in either format and I don’t think he will strike out enough to be a spot starter.

Marco Estrada & Drew Hutchison

Neither of these guys is exciting enough to be owned in anything smaller than a 20 team league or a deep AL only league. Both will likely have an ERA over 4.2 with poor strikeout rates. Anything sound exciting to you there?

Closer:

Drew Storen

Storen is not currently predicted to be the closer for Toronto, but it’s highly unlikely they gave up a top notch lead-off hitter in order to add a set-up guy, who has struggled as a set-up man in the past. Storen is a top notch closer who was unlucky to be booted out of a job by Papelbon last season. If we project him for 35 saves then he sits nicely in that tier with Boxberger, Street and Perkins with the potential to be even better. The question marks over Storen’s role means he is a potential massive bargain after the 15th round as a closer with legitimate 40 steal potential.

The Enigma

Roberto Osuna

Have the Blue Jays stripped all of the fantasy value out of Roberto Osuna?

Have the Blue Jays stripped all of the fantasy value out of Roberto Osuna?

Osuna was superb last year but the acquisition of Storen suggests the Blue Jays have bigger and better things planned for Osuna. If they have good sense they will use him as a high leverage, multi innings guy who can transition from a weak rotation to a decent bullpen. Another option may be they are going to look at stretching him out this spring and have him compete for a rotation spot. However, that would be a big jump from closer to starter in innings for a young pitcher so I would be surprised if that is the plan. Really the only way he has significant value is if he remains the closer but I am not banking on that enough to take him before the 20th round.

Prospect Potential

  • Dalton Pompey, OF: Pompey struggled massively coming off a lot of hype to start the 2015 season. He has interesting power/speed upside but he failed to hit much above 0.200 in the majors last year. However, he did manage to return to the same top quality hitter when he returned to the minors. With Revere moved and the DH spot potentially open for Bautista to use more often there is a legitimate spot we could see Pompey and his potential in the majors early this season. This is someone who is potentially worth a late round flyer in shallow leagues if you have a decent sized bench and is someone who should be snapped up in deeper leagues for upside alone.

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2 Comments

  1. Brian

    February 10, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    The nickname ‘E5′ comes from when Encarnacion was playing 3B in 2010 and committed 18 errors, hence E5. It’s not meant to be an endearing name…

    • Ben Rolfe

      February 11, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      If that is your biggest issue with this article then I’m a very happy fantasy writer :)

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