9

FanGraphs Thinks The Jays Are Actually Good

The 2017 Blue Jays’ season was kind of a lot like John Carpenter’s awesome cult classic film ‘The Thing’. The only thing is that the 2017 season was anything but awesome – it was more like this shitty shoulder shrug of what the hell is going on. It was like there was this villainous creature that hid in the shadows waiting to choose its next victim and not an R.J. MacReady could do anything about it.

Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, and others felt the bite of this beast, some bitten more viciously than others as more than half the team’s salary sat on the shitty DL at the same goddamn time. It was a season of dogshit, garbage, nightmares and are-you-kidding-me curses, as the shit just continued to pile up day-in and day-out during that long summer descent into Blue Jays baseball hell.

And despite the fact that the team suffered some strange wrath from some strange thing, they still managed to almost fight their way back to .500 over a handful of times, only to lose because the thing always wins. The thing just is…

The 2017 season was horrific and something that we all want to forget, so I’m going to stop writing about that shitty yesterday and thank the good something that it is gone, but when thinking about last season and Jose Bautista’s dramatic fall and all other Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney things, it’s surprising to even think that there was a time in August when the Blue Jays were actually within striking distance of the Wild Card.

But here we are now in April and the Toronto Blue Jays are actually good. FanGraphs projects the Blue Jays will finish the season going 87 – 75, ahead of the hurtin’ Halos, who they have projected finishing behind the Jays with 86 wins.

When the Blue Jays re-signed Marco Estrada in late September, kicking off their offseason before the end of their garbage season, it was crystally clear that the Toronto FO were not tossing in some white ninny towel on the 2018 season. And why the hell should they?

There is an unbelievably good tier of ball clubs in the American League and we all know who they are, so I’m not going to bother typing up the names of those four dumb teams. FanGraphs projects that all four of them will finish with 92 wins or more and you don’t really need a computer and math to project that they will all be that good.

And then there is the second tier of teams and the Blue Jays are projected to be the leader of this pack, which also includes the Halos and Molly’s meh Twins. The rest of the American League is trash.

In a great piece by Jay Jaffe over at FanGraphs, he looks at what is going on because their projection system seems to favour the 2018 Blue Jays. And if you compare the misery of 2017 to the 2018 projections, it’s kind of like an old school wrestling vintage stare down between the shitty heel and the good guy – or MacReady and the Thing.

And when you look over the 2017 numbers, it’s hard not to start to remember the horror that was last season. So, let’s just look at all the good that is being projected in 2018 because everything really is fine.

The 13.1 WAR difference between 2017 and ‘18’s projection, reveals what the thing did to a good team last year because 2017 wasn’t supposed to be that bad, nor should it have been. So, it seems (knock on all the wood) that the Blue Jays should be able to get past last year’s horror, considering the roster that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have put together.

The Toronto FO have built a team that will compete this season and push for the wild card fun that would have us all on the edge of our bar stools in the fall. There is a whole lot to like about this Blue Jays team and they have been enjoyable to watch so far as they have been hitting dingers, driving in runs, coming back in games, and pitching well.

Yangervis Solarte has become the new adopted son of Toronto and has added that zest that reminds us how much fun baseball is. The organization was very busy making necessary depth moves that may have had most fans howling into the wind, but it was the proper play.

The fact is that Solarte, Diaz, and Ngoepe are better than Goins and Barney. There will be no more garbage at-bats like the ones that those two likable dudes combined for last year, a year when they stood in the batter’s box 821 times, hit a woeful .234, earned a wRC+ 63.5, and accumulated a big bad minus .5 WAR – fun 2017 times.

J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman, and Jaime Garcia are five very different pitchers who make up one of the best rotations in the American League – call me crazy, but I would put this healthy hurling wolf pack up against the likes of Cleveland, New York, Boston, and Houston.

Here’s the thing: if 2017 hadn’t gone so sideways, fickle fans wouldn’t have written off the Birds in the winter like so many have foolishly done. All of the ‘shatkins’ flunkies out there really have no clue how good of a job that the Toronto FO has done since taking over the organization, or they’re just too cool.

The front-office has put together a baseball club that can compete today while crossing the bridge to the big bad Vlad and Bo future. They are going to continue to add talent into the farm and I’m sure that sooner rather than later fans are going to be talking about the great pitching depth that the Blue Jays have in their Minor League system, too.

Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins have been resourceful and put together a 2018 roster that runs 40-men deep and, as we all learned from last year’s shitty season: lack of depth is actually really unsexy.

If all the ifs work out for this season, the Blue Jays are going to be very enjoyable to watch. There’s so much to like about this team. There are so many guys to cheer for. Maybe you are rooting for Travis to mash and play a full season. Maybe you’re hoping for Morales to figure it out and prove us all wrong. Maybe you’re cheering for Obi-Yan Solarte to dance his way into more playing time. Maybe you’re cheering for Granderson to prove to all the doubters that he can still play ball. Maybe you’re going to hoot and holler for ol’ Gibbers because Gibby is the best. Maybe you’re all in on Osuna getting 40 saves this year. Or you’re ready for Smoak to return to the All-Star game. Maybe you’re excited for Sanchez to leave those dumb blisters in the sun. Maybe you’re ready to soak in every last inning of Josh Donaldson as a Blue Jay. Maybe you’re going to try and learn how to like Kevin Pillar. Maybe this 2018 Blue Jays team is actually good… One thing that is for sure: nothing can be as bad as 2017, amirite?

  • Player to Be Named Later

    I liked that FanGraphs piece. Though, in fairness, I think it’s a little early to proclaim that Gift Ngoepe is better than Goins and Barney. (And that this is so uncontroversial that it can be stated as a “fact.” I know we’ve thrown dirt on both of their coffins, but Goins and Barney carved out 5 and 8 year careers for themselves at the ML level. Gift’s been playing a week.

    • Player to Be Named Later

      Further to the above – I didn’t realize that he’s already 28 years old. (Nor that he had a cup of coffee in the majors last year for Pittsburgh) God bless him. But if he’s only breaking into the majors now (and since he’s never hit in the minors), maybe we should keep some perspective.

      • Jroc

        Gift is playing the role of refsnyder(?) That bar is low. I expect him to play league average 5th infielder. Again low bar. Diaz and solarte remind me of some of the starters we had during the lean years…. remember the first Alex Gonzalez? Or Orlando Merced? Or Homer Bush?…. *trails off as a single tear riles down cheek*

      • Barry

        Thanks, but I’ve been going to games since the 1979, so I know all the teams.

        The post is a reference to a comment in the article on the 2020 Jays, which referred to the 2015 Jays as the best team ever, and subsequent discussion about that comment. It’s a bit of an inside joke, and probably not a very funny one, and since I just had to explain it, likely not a joke worth making in the first place.