Blue Jays Position Projections
Fangraphs has a depth chart feature that lists where each team ranks at each position in terms of WAR (Steamer projections for 2015). It’s not perfect—otherwise why play the games—but at least it’s based on something more solid than conjecture and it’s just entertaining to consider. Here’s where the Blue Jays sit (with some commentary):
Catcher: #2 behind the Giants. Russell Martin could easily surpass the 3.7 WAR they have him pegged at here. Of course the 3.7 figure does not include pitch framing value either. Even so, the Giants would still probably retain the top spot because…well, Buster Posey. They’ll drop a few spots if they trade Navarro but of course they’d move up in other areas with the return.
First Base: #18. Daric Barton is not included on their projection of 1B and Smoak’s projection has yet to factor in his new setting. So give them a slight nudge upward here. #17 or #16 possibly.
Second Base: #30. Ya…Ryan Goins leads the way with playing time and sports a -0.3 WAR. But I’d give the Jays a tiny boost here with Kawasaki’s WAR thrown in. #29 maybe.
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Short Stop: #11. Jose Reyes stands at 2.7 WAR. Again, Kawasaki is not yet listed and could contribute a small amount
Third Base: #1 Josh Donaldson and his 5.6 WAR (which he could easily surpass) leads all comers
Left Field: #19 Andy Dirks‘ projected 0.8 WAR was not yet included in the ranking. That would boost them up to 10th or 11th.
Center: #27 Pompey is projected to get the most playing time and accumulate a piddly 0.3 WAR. His back up is slated for 0.7 at the position. Hmm…
Right Field: #2. Jose Bautista at 5.1 WAR
DH: #2 Edwin Encarnacion’s 2.9 WAR, et al, lies just behind the Tigers’ DHing duo of Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera
Starting Pitching: #12 Marcus Stroman leads with 3.2 WAR
Relief Pitching: #16 Brett Cecil leads with 1.2 WAR
(Fangraphs’ rankings included ‘free agents’ as a team. I did not)
Next: Blue Jays Breakout Prospect Tim Locastro
Some of the projections for the relievers and starters seem unnecessarily bearish. For instance, Mark Buerhle is projected for 1.5 WAR. That would be a career low. And for some reason Chad Jenkins is slated for a negative WAR. But there is still no question that the bullpen is shakiest part of the club currently.
Overall, the Jays are projected to have the 5th best offence by WAR, the 13th best pitching staff by WAR and be 7th in WAR overall in 2015. Run production will not be a problem. It is run prevention (pitching not so much fielding) that will determine whether Jays are contenders or not.
The usual caveats apply: this is just on paper, got to play the real games, limitations to WAR, injuries, breakouts… etc. Overall though, be excited—the Blue Jays are a top tier team in terms of talent. That’s even with deficiencies in center, 2B and the bullpen (which could still be addressed before opening day). Set a reasonable expectation of the Jays fighting for a playoff spot and this year is going to be a ton of fun. If you’re like me, baseball is enjoyable no matter what the results in Sept/Oct. are (obviously playoffs would be the vastly preferred option). It will be interesting to see how these predictions line up with reality at the end of 2015.