This isn’t your last year’s Toronto Blue Jays. In 2018, everyone experienced what cheering for a miserable club that didn’t even try to be entertaining was like, but now it’s something different and 2019 is finally showing its true potential.
Every single fan had to suffer through the sludge of the 2018 season. Going through last year could be worn like a badge of honour, but it was a miserable time full of unentertaining baseball.
The only positive was the innate hope that everyone had in the young players. Following what was going on in the minors sometimes more than what’s going on in the Rogers Centre was how the thirst for baseball was quenched.
While there was some glimpse of the future later in 2018 — Ryan Borucki and Thomas Pannone having solid ends to their debut seasons — everyone was still counting down the days until the service time was the right amount.
Fast-forward several months and we are finally watching what the 2019 Blue Jays had potential to be, lead by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
This game needed a hero.
Enter, Vladdy. pic.twitter.com/NDCWtsmWPs
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 19, 2019
After early struggles, he’s here and he’s raking.
Now up to a total of four home runs after his two-homer game against the Giants in San Francisco, Guerrero Jr. is demonstrating what can be fun about being a Jays fan in the year 2019.
No one realistically expected this team to be competitive or have any meaningful games in the standings. This is a year of transition and just retaining any singular moment, like a generational talent’s debut game or first home run, can be something valuable itself.
In just one short week he moved his OPS from a depressing .517 to a respectable .766, of course including those four home runs. Vlad is making the Jays be something to watch — especially now how he has shown his jaw-dropping power, there is a reason to tune in other than seeing what Billy McKinney is up to today.
Rather than watching players that you know would not be in Toronto after last season, we are now watching what the future of this franchise can look like. It feels much more real, not just watching grainy minor-league footage of Vlad hitting hotel windows, we’re seeing him in the majors and he is killing it.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) May 18, 2019
There were hopes heading into this season that we would see Vlad make the big leagues and be a phenom, but now he’s real and every at-bat is a must-watch scenario. With what he’s been doing recently, this summer will at least be survivable.
Of course there are still players that are part of that rebuild process — upcoming free agents that no one will remember their time in Toronto or young(ish) players that will soon disappear into nothing but trivia questions. But at least this season has one player that we’re all watching for.
Those forgettable players can still be fun though. What if Brandon Drury just turns into a respectable big-league hitter and has a bench spot on the 2022 AL East Champions? There is still a glimmer of hope, but not a lot.
Players like Rowdy Tellez, Trent Thornton, and Danny Jansen are also carrying that hope. Prospects that might be part of a future core and have interesting stories to back them up. Whether or not they turn into anything of note is one thing, but at least they are playing in the majors and having important reps.
As a collective fan base, the cries for calling up certain players have sightly quieted down and we’re able to enjoy some importance in what is going on with the Jays. This is how 2019 will be watchable, some of the prospects are here and grabbing attention.
It’s not only the young players either, but some old ones with interesting stories as well.
Ryan Feierabend made his first MLB appearance in just under five years and is a lefty knuckleballer — like, c’mon. His appearance is just something that makes this season somewhat interesting — the pleasures of being a non-competitive baseball team is creating these stories.
He might be carrying an ERA of 9.00 after only four innings pitched in his debut, but he’s a talking point and he at least made people outside Toronto pay attention to the Blue Jays. A quirky, fun story is just what can be possible with this team.
Feierabend may not ever make another appearance for the Jays, but his four innings within this long season can still be a talking point. It’s fun and a very baseball-esque story of no-name athletes getting a big-league chance.
In the long run, this season won’t mean much more other than seeing what some young players can do. Hopefully there will be more promotions to the majors of some more crucial prospects like Bichette and Biggio, but for now we’re seeing how this season was advertised.
More entertaining than what 2018 had to offer already, 2019 might actually turn into something you can look back on with some good memories.