How Does the 2015 Blue Jays Opening Day Roster Compare to 2014?


Going in to last season it seemed the Blue Jays had a core of hitters capable of a great season and on many fronts. That was true but injury and some poor performances brought the Blue Jays down. They let some of those regulars go and inserted some new blood into the equation. Results? We’ll have to see. On a side note, all the projections you read are from my head based on gut feeling and past track records. Feel free to rant all you like in the comments below::

Starting Pitcher

2014 R.A. Dickey: 14-13, 4.21 ERA, 173 K, 1.229 WHIP
2015 Drew Hutchison: 15-11, 3.65 ERA, 190 K. 1.27 WHIP

Now of course R.A. Dickey is still a crucial part of this rotation but with a new found bite on his slider it seems that Hutchison is on his way to becoming a front of the line starter. He has been around for a long time but remember he is only 25 and is poised to make the next step forward. This Opening Day start most likely would have gone to Marcus Stroman if he hadn’t got hurt and putting up a hard tosser at the beginning of the season allows John Gibbons to split the rotation into a hard, soft, hard, soft, hard in terms of stuff (Dickey, Sanchez, Buehrle, Norris). Hutch has worked hard and has earned the passing of the Opening Day torch from Dickey.

Advantage: 2015 Blue Jays


2014 Josh Thole: .248 BA, 7 RBI, .598 OPS
2015 Russ Martin: .260 BA, 15 HR, 67 RBI, .752 OPS

The first no-brainer compared to last year. Now it makes more sense to compare to Dioner Navarro but because of the pitcher on the mound Josh Thole started last year to catch Dickey. Martin is the epitome of what has been lacking in Blue Jays catching since the P.A. days (Pre-Arencibia). A great game caller who is agile and quick behind the plate and who’s defense can truly save runs over the course of a season. Offensively Martin is heads and tails above Thole (as is most of the catchers out there) so this is a definite upgrade from last season.

Advantage: 2015 Blue Jays

First Base

2014 Edwin Encarnacion: .268 BA, 34 HR, 98 RBI, .901 OPS
2015 Justin Smoak: .240 BA, 14 HR, 56 RBI, .730 OPS

Smoak is a first-round pick who still seems to have oodles of potential bottles up inside…unfortunately the cork seems to have broken off and only drips and drabs of that potential have leaked out of the bottle. Perhaps a homer friendly park will help finally bring some of that talent to the forefront. Unfortunately the talent we have come to expect the last couple years is the type EE has thrust upon us. EE prefers to DH due to some back issues so Smoak and Danny Valencia will platoon for the time being. This one is easy to call.

Advantage: 2014 Blue Jays

Second Base

2014 Maicer Izturis: .286 BA, .639 OPS
2015 Devon Travis: .270 BA, 10 HR, 46 RBI, .860 OPS

Second base was a deep black hole for the Blue Jays in 2014. Maicer Izturis was brought in a couple years ago to solidify the spot until someone else stepped up to take it. Ryan Goins, Muni Kawasaki, Steve Tolleson, Danny Valencia et al. It was an abyss offensively and decent defensively.

You can all thank the limitless potential of Anthony Gose for getting us our under the radar starting second baseman: Devon Travis. He has raked it in the minors every stop of the way to silencing the critics who are wary of his range at second. He was a top prospect in the Tigers organization and is ready for the majors after hitting over .300 in Spring Training. I think he will surprise a lot of naysayers who claim Alex Anthopolous has done nothing to solidify the position. He definitely has.

Advantage: 2015 Blue Jays

Third Base

2014 Brett Lawrie: .247 BA, 12 HR, 38 RBI, .722 OPS
2015 Josh Donaldson: .280 BA, 35 HR, 110 RBI, .895 OPS

The Blue Jays version of trading the future for the present. Brett Lawrie will be a great player someday…heck he even may be a younger version of the man he was traded for. Donaldson has proven his MVP caliber play the last couple years and only some great young pitching and his 5 years younger clone could have enabled Billy Beane to trade him.

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Both have stellar defensive skills (despite what some UZR ratings say) and both are capable productive hitters. We have the now guy and that is how this team is built. Watch for Donaldson to once again be in MVP form but do’t fret too much when you see Lawrie put it all together as soon as this season.

Advantage: 2015 Blue Jays


2014 Jose Reyes: .287 BA, 9 HR, 51 RBI, .726 OPS, 30 SB
2015 Jose Reyes: .285 BA, 7 HR, 58 RBI, .785 OPS, 25 SB

Last year Reyes was finally pretty much healthy enough that he was back to the 30 stolen base threat that many thought he was. His fielding is waning a bit and I am sure the turf is killing his knees but he is a gamer and it would take a lot more than a bit of pain to keep him off the field. He is a year older and though I am sure much wiser he is still somewhat on the brittle side and the days of his numbers improving year to year are pretty much done. 2015 Reyes will look much like to 2014 Reyes just with a little more rest given to him by John Gibbons.

Advantage: 2014 Blue Jays

Left Field

2014 Melky Cabrera: .301 BA, 16 HR, 73 RBI. .808 OPS
2015 Kevin Pillar: .240 BA. 3 HR, 26 RBI, .753 OPS

Even considering that it will eventually be Michael Saunders in this spot it’s tough to say either him or Pillar will be as good as Melky was. Thing is will Melky be as good as Melky was? Cabrera was everything you could ask for in a #2 hitter. He got on base frequently and didn’t make a fool of himself in the field. He was well worth the risk taken after his PED suspension.

Pillar will be a decent fourth outfielder but if he Michael Saunders is gone for an extended time I think Pillar will show his true value as a AAAA outfielder. Saunders will be a decent replacement when the time comes but no matter which of these two is on the field they aren’t going to give you as much as the Melk Man.

Advantage: 2014 Blue Jays

Centre Field

2014 Colby Rasmus: .225, BA, 18 HR, 40 RBI, .735 OPS
2015 Dalton Pompey: .270 BA, 15 HR, 60 RBI, .850 OPS, 35 SB

Colby we hardly knew ye. He tried. I really truly believe he tried but as much as we wanted him to succeed he just doesn’t seem to have that intangible that would allow him to use his talents on a regular basis. He had some streaks that were amazing and showed his potential but he will be remembered as the guy who never quite fulfilled the potential bestowed upon him.

Pompey came out of nowhere, Ontario and flew up the organizational ladder and took the job from Colby. He does almost everything we expected from Rasmus: he can steal bases, play stellar defense and go yard once in a while. He is going to be an on-base machine as he matures but for now just enjoy the kid playing for his hometown team and getting better every play, every day…sort of Rasmus 2.0 with slightly less power and speed to burn.

Advantage: 2015 Blue Jays

Right Field

2014 Jose Bautista: .286 BA, 35 HR, 103 RBI, .928 OPS
2015 Jose Bautista: .310 BA, 30 HR, 115 RBI, .935 OPS

With all the new found protection in the lineup it should do wonders for Bautista’s numbers if he stays healthy. He may not quite hit the numbers from last year in terms of power but he will hit and hit well and power be damned. He has been around long enough that hi confidence is at an all-time high and should always be. Don’t worry about 2015….it will be pretty close to 2014.

Advantage: Even

Designated Hitter

2014 Dioner Navarro: .274 BA, 12 HR, 69 RBI, .712 OPS
2015 Edwin Encarnacion: .275 BA, 33 HR, 112 RBI, .925 OPS

Dioner Navarro was a great bat to have in the lineup last year. He had power, great timing and ensured that he could carry his weight in the batting order better than most catchers in the game. Now that he is relegated to back up catching duties and spot DH duties his value is even greater this year. We have a true playoff caliber catching tandem and that’s awesome. What is more awesome is Edwin in the DH slot.

Edwin has been a revelation in Toronto. Just like Bautista he resurrected his career in the North. His defense was always suspect at third because he couldn’t throw. At first he was even better because he really didn’t have to throw and he was not too bad with the glove. More of him in the DH spot than first is a boon for us. It keeps his wonky back in check somewhat and gives him time to think about how to smash another homer over the fence. This is the best move yet.

Advantage: 2015 Blue Jays

All said and done it looks like, aside from left field, we are better in all aspects of the lineup if everyone lives up to potential. It is always about potential at this point in the season. I am not saying all the above is true but I am saying I am more optimistic about this team than I have been for any other team since the glory days. I hope it is as fun to watch as it is to think about.