Toronto Blue Jays Lineup Steamer Predictions for 2015
Earlier this week, we looked at the Steamer projections for the candidates to fill the Blue Jays’ second base spot. While Steamer (via Fangraphs.com) certainly is not the ‘be all end all’ of projections, it is certainly an interesting point to start discussion from. With all of the hoopla about the changes that have been made to this lineup, it might be neat to take a peek at just how good they’ll be…or at least how good they’re projected to be.
The following is based on the starting lineup as it stands RIGHT NOW. There is still lots of time for things to change. For example, Dioner Navarro is not likely to be with the team come opening day. He’ll probably be moved for bullpen help. But, right now, he’ll serve as the primary DH. If he is moved, then it is likely that Edwin Encarnacion will move to DH and Justin Smoak would get the nod at 1B. I’ll add his projections in at the end.
As well, the battle for second base, as Jays Journal’s Keegan Matheson already profiled, is a competition between Maicer Izturis and Ryan Goins. Also, the future may also contain an opportunity for Devon Travis. So, there is room for some variation in this lineup, but it is more or less set. Let’s take a look.
Jose Reyes-SS- Reyes is projected to be worth 3.0 WAR in his 13th season. He’ll be 31 years old. His line is said to look like this: .284/.336/.412 with a wRC+ of 108. Steamer also suggests he’ll hit 11 HR, 59 RBI and score 86 runs. I think that run total may be a tad shy of the reality with the guys behind him. Of course, that largely depends upon his ability to stay healthy. His wonky legs need to hold up for this to happen. Steamer has the same fear. They have him playing 138 games.
Russell Martin-C- In his 10th season, Martin is projected to be worth just 3.5 WAR. I say “just” because he’s been worth more than that in each of the last two seasons. His line is thought to look rather decent: .241/.340/.405 with a wRC+ of 110. Martin will be helped out by his projected 55 walks. He’s projected to hit 15 bombs while driving in 56. What jumps out at me is the 114 games he’s expected to play in. Aside from last season’s 111 games, the fewest number of games for him was 125 in 2011. If this turns out to be accurate, maybe the Jays should hold on to Navarro.
Jose Bautista-RF- You pretty much know what you’re going to get with Joey Bats: hard hit bombs and productivity. Steamer pretty much agrees. 35 HR, 99 RBI, 99 runs scored while hitting .267/.380/.517 with a wRC+ of 150. They say he’ll be worth 5.3 WAR too. I don’t know. This seems rather conservative. The HR total is probably near bang on. But, last season Jose Bautista seemed to be a much more rounded hitter at the plate. He put up 107 walks, which is the most since his 132 in 2011 versus 96 strikeouts. Steamer expects that those numbers will be reversed in 2015- 96 BB vs 105 K. Jose really improved his situational hitting last season, so I expect a big year from him.
Sep 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Edwin Encarnacion-1B- We can expect a lot of chicken wings next season. 35, according to Steamer. In fact, he’s expected to have a very similar year to last. 35 HR, 102 RBI, 91 runs with a line of .268/.359/.515 with a WAR of 3.6. Steamer also expects that EE will continue his run of being a tough out due to his 88 strike outs, which is low for a guy who has such power in his swing. Oddly, they expect that he’ll get hit by 6 pitches next season. A quick look at his history and that sounds about right. Unlike Martin and Reyes above, Edwin is expected to make 146 games.
Josh Donaldson-3B- What’s that? 70 homeruns from the middle of the lineup not enough? How about another projected 26 from the 5th spot? It is not unreasonable to expect 100 homers from just these three batters. Donaldson will love hitting at Rogers Centre. A line of .264/.343/.468 would be a very welcome improvement from the left side of the infield. Especially since he’s projected to play 146 games. Steamer does expect that he’ll strike out 120 times versus just 63 BB. But, still. The bombs! They also expect he’ll be worth 5.6 WAR.
Dioner Navarro-DH- Again, in the unlikely event Navarro is not moved, he’ll slot into the DH spot. Considering Martin is not expected to catch a full season, Navarro could get some time behind the dish. Except when R.A. Dickey is pitching. So, maybe not that much time. But, if he is in the lineup, we can expect the following: In 69 games- a .255/.318/.403 line with 8 HR and 34 RBI and a WAR of 0.9.
Michael Saunders-LF- The heir to left field has some pretty big shoes to fill. Saunders will be taking over for Melky Cabrera. Cabrera put up great numbers last season. If Saunders can come close to those, this will look like a brilliant move by Alex Anthopoulos. The first question is Saunders’ health. He’s projected to make 113 games. That will leave some room for Kevin Pillar. But, if healthy, Saunders is expected to hit .247/.328/.420 with 14 HR and 54 RBI. Like Donaldson, he’ll enjoy hitting in Rogers Centre much more than Safeco field. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these numbers rise. But, also like Donaldson, Saunders is expected to strike out twice as many times as he walks (110 vs 50). He’s expected to be worth 1.8 WAR.
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Maicer Izturis-2B- Because Keegan has already broke down the 2B dilemma (none of the options are amazing), I won’t spend too much time here. Except to say that if the season were to start today, I would give Izturis the 2B job. It’s his to lose, particularly from an offensive standpoint. Except, Steamer doesn’t agree. They have him in just 49 games in 2015. As well, Steamer seems to think that Goins may actually be a better option over the course of the year. I guess we’ll see.
Dalton Pompey-CF- Presuming Izturis gets the 2B job, Pompey would take the #9 spot in this lineup. If Goins is the second baseman, then I would move Pompey up to the 8th spot. Anyway, let’s take a look at what the Canadian kid is projected to produce in his first full season. In 122 games, he is expected to hit 7 HR, 48 RBI while slashing .231/.297/.436 and worth just 0.3 WAR. They expect him to whiff 97 times to just 37 walks. All of this seems rather harsh. But, even if it is accurate, it might be OK. He is not going to be counted on to carry the offensive load; not even a little bit.
This lineup may allow the Blue Jays the opportunity to give Pompey the room he needs to grow. If not, Kevin Pillar may be called upon. Whatever happens, I hope they do not give Dalton the “Anthony Gose yo-yo” treatment. If they are going to commit to him in CF, then they have to let him play; good or bad.
Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
*Kevin Pillar- Given that it looks like he’ll be the go to option for Pompey and Saunders, it might be worth taking a look at what he is projected to contribute. Firstly, Steamer expects him to see 105 games. Obviously, the outfield situation could very well provide him with as many games. He’s expected to chip in 8 HR, 20 RBI while hitting .275/.311/.407 and worth 1.2 WAR. I actually think that if Pillar is given as much playing time, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he could eclipse these expectations. He has proven there is nothing left for him in AAA. With regular time, he could be just fine with the big league club.
*If (read “when”) Dioner Navarro is traded, then Edwin Encarnacion will likely be moved to DH to make Justin Smoak (the better defensive option) the everyday first baseman. This is probably the scenario that Smoak envisioned that led him to re-sign with the Blue Jays. It is clearly the vision that Steamer sees too. They have him in 113 games while hitting 17 HR and 57 RBI to go with a line of .240/.325/.414 and a WAR of 1. Again, if the rest of the lineup can live up to their projections (or beyond) this is acceptable production to me, especially when you factor in the defensive improvement he provides over Encarnacion.
While there may be a few variations throughout the 2015 season and it is far from set, the Blue Jays lineup looks to be quite formidable. This might be the year where we hear that familiar saying of “everyone just needs to live up to their capabilities. We don’t need any career years, etc etc”. If Steamer projections are even close to being right, it should be a fun ride!
As always, we welcome your input below!