Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow (23) pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre. Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Toronto Blue Jays underrated?

Earlier today, Ben Nicholson-Smith aka Benny Fresh of Sportsnet posted a list of potential sleeper teams for the 2014 MLB season. And what do you know, the Toronto Blue Jays made the cut.

According to the article, Sportsnet polled twelve MLB executives, which included GMs, assistant GMs and scouts. The San Diego Padres headlined the piece as the top to team look out for and I agree the Padres could surprise a lot of people with a postseason berth in 2014.

However the reason you are at this site is probably because you care about the Toronto Blue Jays, so here is what Nicholson-Smith had to say about Canada’s team:

Between injuries and poor performances, the Blue Jays had an unexpectedly poor season last year after being tabbed as World Series favourites. Yet some executives say there’s reason to anticipate some positive regression with players such as Melky Cabrera and Brandon Morrow capable of bouncing back.

Cabrera could definitely be a factor in 2014 and has been moving around in the field and on the bases much better than the latter part of last season. He’s also looked good at the plate, but you have to be careful about reading too much into spring training numbers.

Morrow’s last start wasn’t televised but so far he’s been a bit shaky this spring. He’s already said fastball command is his primary focus but he allowed seven baserunners (three walks) in three innings against the Canadian National Junior team the other day, which isn’t great. Hopefully at full strength Morrow will be a beast but his swinging strike percentage the last two season has been below league average, even during his spectacular 2012 campaign. That’s a concern to me.

It’s hardly ground-breaking but to compete in 2014 the Blue Jays will need to remain healthy and get more production than is projected out of their starting rotation. Last year was a case where so many players underachieved, all at the same time, and the chance of that happening again is slim. The Blue Jays also won’t hopefully look like the Buffalo Bisons come August, which dragged their offensive numbers (and win-loss record) down to close out the season.

So are the Toronto Blue Jays underrated? Maybe a bit, based on how much slack we’ve been giving them about not upgrading the roster basically at all this off-season. If all goes well, they will be in a dogfight in the American League East with the four other relatively loaded teams in their division. It won’t be easy but if absolutely everything goes right, it could happen. Right?

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  • Andrew van Laar

    In terms of how people view the team, I don’t think it’s a matter of underrated so much as the number of question marks. Can the team stay healthy? Can Dickey and Buerhle come out of the gates better this year? Will Morrow be healthy/effective? What are our 4th and 5th starters going to be like? WIll Rasmus be 2013 version of himself or the 2011 – 2012 version? Can Navarro handle full time catching duties?

    There are just tonsssss of questions on this team. More so than I think I have ever seen with other teams. I think people know what the Jays can do on paper, but on the field is another question.

    • Justin Jay

      Dead on. No team in the AL East has more serious question marks than this team.

  • Justin Jay

    They have to be “sleepers” but that doesn’t necessarily make them underrated. I typically interpret a team that’s underrated to be a team that has a lot of upside, but hasn’t received the acknowledgement yet. The 2008-2009 Tampa Bay Rays were underrated. Last season’s Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates were underrated, and somehow, may still be. The New York Mets could be underrated. Even the San Diego Padres could be underrated this season. I’d even say Baltimore is underrated. There aren’t many unknowns with Toronto. So sleeper? Yes. Underrated? No.

    • Michael Wray

      lol I’ll have to be more careful with my choice of words

  • Adam Sproule

    The catalyst for the jays has to be morrow and dickey. Without great years from both the rest doesn’t matter. I’d love to see joeybats and Edwin be the 1-2 punch we know they can be. If we get solid contributions from the rest of the rotation and the bullpen is like thelast few years who knows. Without health as in real life we have nothing. Fingers crossed.