Blue Jays Acquisitions – Dumpster Diving Or Diamonds In The Rough?

Dec 3, 2012; Nashville, TN, USA; Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons answers questions from the media during the Major League Baseball winter meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA Today Sports

It can’t be helped as a Jays fan that when Blue Jays news is scarce, there is little to do but to analyze, critique and second guess what the organization has done this off season. With the Blue Jays 1992 World Series being televised on Sportsnet over the holidays, fans have a great chance to reminisce  about the good ol’ days and compare what the ’92 team did to win their World Series. So when I went scouring the world wide web looking for Blue Jays discussion, one of the repeated talking points used to debase the new team is that the new players acquired won’t bring that big of an improvement seeing as they came from 69 and 74 win teams, respectively. These kinds of statements are based in falsehood for many reasons.

Wins do not equal talent, just like talent does not equal wins. It seems counter intuitive, but it does makes sense upon further investigation. Just last year, the Baltimore Orioles won 93 games in the AL East in large part due to a remarkable 29-9 record in one run games. That’s a league leading .763 winning percentage in those games. To put that in perspective, 2nd place in that category is the San Francisco Giants with a .600 winning percentage, and if the Orioles went even 28-10 in one run games they would not make the playoffs. In fact, they should have gone only 82-80 based on the Pythagorean Expectation formula created by the great Bill James, as for most of the year the Orioles had a negative run differential. It was mostly luck that got Baltimore’s team to the playoffs last year, or “Orioles Magic”.

That said, players themselves can provide significant individual value on weaker clubs. Just compare the 2012 Blue Jays Opening Day starters and how they ended up with the 2013 Projected Starting Lineup adding in new players Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and R.A. Dickey.

 

2012 Opening Day Blue Jays Starters (And their Fangraphs WAR value at the end of the season)

Yunel Escobar: 1.8 fWAR
Kelly Johnson: 0.7 fWAR
Jose Bautista: 3.2 fWAR
Edwin Encarnacion: 4.4 fWAR
Adam Lind: 0.2 fWAR
Brett Lawrie: 2.9 fWAR
Eric Thames: -0.6 fWAR
J.P. Arencibia: 1.3 fWAR
Colby Rasmus: 1.4 fWAR
Batting Total: 15.3 fWAR

Ricky Romero: 0.5 fWAR
Brandon Morrow: 2.4 fWAR
Brett Cecil: 0.1 fWAR
Henderson Alvarez: 0.5 fWAR
Kyle Drabek: -0.1 fWAR
Pitching total: 3.4 fWAR

2012 Starting Lineup Total: 18.7 fWAR

 

2013 Projected Starting Blue Jays Lineup (Based on 2012 Fangraphs WAR data)
Jose Reyes: 4.5 fWAR
Melky Cabrera: 4.6 fWAR
Jose Bautista: 3.2 fWAR
Edwin Encarnacion: 4.4 fWAR
Adam Lind: 0.2 fWAR
Brett Lawrie: 2.9 fWAR
Colby Rasmus: 1.4 fWAR
J.P. Arencibia: 1.3 fWAR
Emilio Bonifacio: 0.6 fWAR (64 Games, 274 PA in 2012)
Batting Total: 23.1 fWAR

R.A. Dickey: 4.6 fWAR
Josh Johnson: 3.8 fWAR
Mark Buehrle: 2.1 fWAR
Brandon Morrow: 2.4 fWAR
Ricky Romero: 0.5 fWAR
Pitching Total: 13.4 fWAR

2013 Starting Lineup Total: 36.5 fWAR


It should be noted that the team isn’t guaranteed to double their production from 2012 to 2013, but on paper the Blue Jays have significantly improved. And with significant injuries at times to players Brett Lawrie, Jose Bautista, Brandon Morrow, Emilio Bonifacio and J.P. Arencebia last year, assuming they maintain their expected production they will be looking to add more wins to the club by just staying healthy.

Look, it’s very hard not to be excited as a Blue Jays fan, but there are some legitimate points of concern that are way more grounded in reality than “team wins = individual talent”. Jose Bautista is coming back from a wrist injury, a very difficult injury to gauge recovery from seeing as only four other players since 2008 had a similar type of injury. It’s very possible that he could lose power production coming back to 2013 play. As well, there is a history of injuries with new players Johnson and Bonifacio, who are not guaranteed to maintain their previous production coming into a very contested AL East division. The biggest concern would be Gibbons planning on letting Adam Lind start against lefties, at least starting the season. It’s going to be very interesting to see how 2013 works out for the Blue Jays, especially with the newly-overhauled roster. The new guys might have been brought together from losing teams, but bringing their respective talents together might bring a better fortune for them and for the entire Blue Jays fan base going forward.

Topics: Toronto Blue Jays

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