Feb 22, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes waits to take batting practice as the Blue Jays work out at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports
MLB Network once again has released its list of the “Top 100 Players Right Now”, counting down the players they feel are the best in the game prior to the start of the season. There were a couple of surprises on the list, including Clayton Kershaw jumping Miguel Cabrera on the list for second place behind Mike Trout.
What wasn’t surprising was that the Toronto Blue Jays placed an underwhelming three players on the list.
As per usual, at least as far as the last four years have gone, the list is compiles using the following criteria:
Emphasized stats from the last three (3) seasons, weighting 2013
Projected 2014 performance
The Blue Jays obviously didn’t carry much in the terms of accolades over the last three seasons, and overall performance over those weighted season hasn’t been spectacular for the team as a whole. Then you add in intangibles, the most opinionated piece of the puzzle and there is no shock here that only three players made the team.
#61 – Jose Reyes
Reyes suffered a freak injury sliding into second base in April, forcing him to miss over 60 games on the season. However, when he returned to the line-up, he was a welcome addition to the Blue Jays line-up. In 419 plate appearances, Reyes put up a slash-line of .296/.353/.427 with 10 home runs, a 2.2 fWAR, and wRC+ of 114. The one thing missing from Reyes game was the explosive speed, as he was held to just 15 stolen bases. That should be corrected this season, as he’s back to full health and looking forward to a full season at the top of Toronto’s line-up.
#50 – Jose Bautista
For the second consecutive season, Bautista missed a significant chunk of the season, which amounts to why he continues to plummet down the rankings of baseball’s best. When he was in the line-up, he was dangerous, putting up 28 home runs and 73 RBI despite missing 44 games. However, his .856 OPS, while still respectable, was a four-year low, and he was on pace for a career-high in strike-outs. Bautista is again stating he is healthy and ready to move forward, and he’s talking about being a leader on this team in 2014, but time will tell.
#39 – Edwin Encarnacion
If there was any doubt who the true leader of this club was heading into the 2013 season, Edwin Encarnacion answered it with a loud bat. A .272/.3701/.534 slash-line and another season with 35+ home runs and 100+ RBI cemented it. Consecutive seasons of a 4.1 fWAR and a wRC+ over 140 are starting to become the norm, and fans have warmed up to the parrot-walking first baseman. He’s a yearly MVP candidate and should prove to be once again in 2014.