Are the Toronto Blue Jays underrated?


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

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?