Toronto Blue Jays’ 2B Steamer Projections for 2015
The Toronto Blue Jays have hit the ground running, sometimes sprinting, in the 2014 MLB offseason. Through all of their signings and trades to this point, however, the Second Base position remains a question mark entering 2015.
The reality is that the Toronto Blue Jays will likely enter next season carrying at least one “hole” on their roster, whether it be in the OF, 2B or the bullpen. With Dalton Pompey and Devon Travis both on the horizon in Toronto, these holes have been filled with hope to some extent, but the Blue Jays will need to see on-field production first.
Second Base could very well become an in-house competition between four players: Maicer Izturis, Devon Travis, Ryan Goins and Steven Tolleson. This could also become a competition for the number 9 spot in the batting order, but it is made interesting by the contrasting player profiles among the group.
Looking ahead to 2015, it can help to consider the Steamer projections for each player. Steamer projections, which many of you will be familiar with from Fangraphs, take into account the recent performance of a baseball player, and use a deep pool of advanced statistics to predict their production for the coming season.
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This is not a perfect science. Playing time projections are difficult to make with any degree of accuracy, and a player with a Steamer projected .258 batting average is not an immediately better hitter than one projected at .255. Steamer does, however, offer baseball fans an extremely educated opinion on what direction a player will take in their career and performance. Here is how the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2B options shake out:
Each player name will include a link to their Fangraphs page, where you can examine the full projections.
Maicer Izturis (2015 Steamer)
49 G – 203 PA – 0.2 WAR – 85 wRC+
2 HR – 18 RBI – 3 SB
.256 / .309 / .353
The veteran Izturis could hold the inside edge entering Spring Training, and should have every opportunity to receive the bulk of starts at 2B if there is not an addition made. If he does win the job, I don’t expect it to last for the season, but Izturis could be a reliable option to keep 2B safe in the short term.
Steamer projects Izturis to regress from his career averages as he enters his age-34 season while playing below-average defense. Most notably on offense, Izturis is projected to have a higher K% and lower BB%, resulting in a more unattractive OBP.
Ryan Goins (2015 Steamer)
97 G – 384 PA – 0.4 WAR – 67 wRC+
3 HR – 33 RBI – 4 SB
.240 / .279 / .329
Ryan Goins is a defensive master, and as all Toronto Blue Jays fans know (to great frustration), his troubles lie in his offensive abilities. Despite projecting a moderate step back in his defensive impact, Goins’ glove is still expected to perform at a very strong level.
On the bright side, Steamer does project Goins to take a favourable jump from his career numbers with the bat. Does a jump to a .279 OBP justify him as an every day 2B, though, even given his glove? If that .279 were his AVG, I’d be more inclined to say yes.
Keep a very close eye on Ryan Goins in Spring Training, as he is the player I am most excited about to be paired with the Toronto Blue Jays new hitting coach. If Goins can develop a compact swing that encourages simple contact, I think he has a chance. Until then, I like him on the roster for his defense, but would prefer that the starting job is awarded elsewhere.
Devon Travis (2015 Steamer)
Travis does not yet have a complete MLB-level Steamer projection for 2015, but expect to see one early in the new year as the season approaches. Acquired in the trade for Anthony Gose from the Detroit Tigers, Travis represents the future at the position for the Toronto Blue Jays, but it is still unclear when his time will come to break through.
In 2014, Travis appeared in 100 games at the AA level, slashing .298 / .358 / .460. This is an encouraging start, but again, Travis has yet to play at the AAA level, and the Blue Jays may choose to season him in Buffalo for a couple months before bringing him up to the big club.
Offensively, I feel that Travis at least has the potential to be the strongest player of the four. He has a bat-on-ball swing that produces a great deal of balls in play, which should allow him to transition more smoothly to the professional level. Devon Travis is an exciting name to watch in Spring Training, but don’t be surprised if he starts the season in Buffalo, where a full season is not entirely out of the question.
Steven Tolleson (2015 Steamer)
32 G – 134 PA – 0.1 WAR – 86 wRC+
2 HR – 13 RBI – 3 SB
.245 / .310 / .355
Tolleson is likely to be on the bubble towards the end of Spring Training. Depending on another addition being made to the roster, it would not surprise me if he were not able to crack the Toronto Blue Jays as a utility player.
Steamer is projecting that Tolleson makes a slight improvement at the plate, lowering his K% while increasing his BB%. Tolleson’s greatest value, and his main chip for making the Toronto Blue Jays 25-man roster, is his ability to hit against left-handed pitching.
With a career slash line of .291 / .341 / .460 against lefties and a horrible line against righties, it’s clear that Tolleson’s role would be a utility platoon-man on the Blue Jays. If this is the job he wins, so be it, but regular play at 2B should be far, far out of the question.