Oh man, FanGraphs’ ZiPS is projecting the Blue Jays, Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox will all go 88-74
By Cam Lewis1 year ago
Buckle up! This season is going to be one hell of a ride.
Last year, the Blue Jays unlocked the hilariously depressing achievement of being the best fourth-place finisher ever in Major League Baseball’s six-division format, narrowly missing out on the playoffs with a 91-71 record, one game behind the Yankees and Red Sox, who went 92-70, and well behind the Rays, who went 100-62.
What can we expect this year? Well, more of the same, of course!
Over at FanGraphs, Dan Szymborski ran his ZiPS model and the computers say that the AL East is going to be even tighter than it was last season…
The contract that Carlos Correa signed with the Twins really calls into question some of the Yankees’ maneuvering during the final weeks of the offseason. Outbidding Minnesota for Correa (or signing Trevor Story) would have been a more elegant and probably superior solution to the the Josh Donaldson trade, without adding significant money to the payroll. I know they don’t want to block their prospects, but they don’t seem to have been all that imaginative; the Red Sox figured out how to add Story to a team that already had Xander Bogaerts.Speaking of the Red Sox, I’m not a fan of how much playing time they’re likely to give to Jackie Bradley Jr., but the Story signing, with the resulting shuffle of Enrique Hernández to center field, resolved at least one of their outfield issues. Combined with other changes in the playing time assumptions, Boston basically catches up to the division. The Rays will be the Rays, and they’ll probably add two wins from random pitchers they pick up from indie leagues, but that’s a bit out of ZiPS’ purview. Shane Baz’s elbow injury was a particularly unwelcome bit of news.The Jays get the top place in the table with the highest divisional odds. Toronto also projects to have the lowest downside of any of the AL East contenders. It’s a deeper roster than last year, and even if areas like the bullpen aren’t exciting, the Jays have heirs and spares in place.
On the bright side, there are six playoff seeds in each league now, so the Blue Jays could finish fourth in the AL East again and still get into the dance. That being said, this year’s Blue Jays are better than last year’s Blue Jays, or, at least, the team going into the 2022 season is better than the one that went into the 2021 season, especially in terms of starting pitching depth and the bullpen.
The Blue Jays will be seeing quite a bit of their division rivals early on. They face the Yankees in their second series of the season and they also play Boston seven times in the month of April. The first series against the Rays comes in mid-May, and there are five more games against the Yankees before that happens.
It’s going to be a hell of a battle, and, as we learned last year, these early games are very, very important, so the Blue Jays need to kick things off strong.
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