Blue Jays: Steamer projections forecasting several regressions


The Steamer projection system is forecasting that several Blue Jays will experience a notable drop-off in their wins above replacement (WAR) this coming season

The Blue Jays offseason is a time for optimism. Or at the very least, it should be, with images of best-case-scenarios dancing through heads before the realities of spring hit.

Those eventual realities, according to the Steamer projection system and this piece by FanGraphs’ August Fagerstrom, could see several key members of the Blue Jays regress from their 2015 production levels.

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Regression from one season to another is unavoidable, and of course, can be counteracted by progression elsewhere on the roster. A full season of Troy Tulowitzki and Marcus Stroman alone will go a long way to keeping the Jays above water in 2016, but after a season of career years, these are the names that Steamer projects to take a step backwards.

Josh Donaldson (-2.8 WAR loss)  –  Projecting an even better season would be a fool’s play here, so while it’s difficult to agree with the reigning MVP regressing, you can see the logic and likelihood. Donaldson’s 8.7 WAR from 2015 is difficult for even the greatest of players to sustain, but with three consecutive seasons of 158 games played, he should give himself another shot.

Marco Estrada (-2.1 WAR loss)  –  This one is worrying, but I find the projections of Estrada’s regression to be far too exaggerated. Yes, he did benefit from an exceptionally low BABIP last season with an ERA more than one full point below his FIP, but it wasn’t all luck. So while it’s entirely reasonable to expect a slight step backwards from Estrada (and you probably should), something of this level may be a bit of a reach.

Edwin Encarnacion (-1.9 WAR loss)  –  The 33-year-old Encarnacion is certainly entering the point of his career where regression is expected, though hope remains that keeping him fresh as a strict DH could help. While he hasn’t missed significant playing time since 2010, Encarnacion has consistently been nagged by a combination of small injuries. Like Estrada, a regression is logical to expect, but perhaps not to this extent.

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Kevin Pillar (-1.8 WAR loss)  –  Pillar’s case is understandable given the nature of this projection system. Not only was Pillar’s defensive mastery at a level that will be difficult to recreate season-to-season, he also comes with his holes at the plate. Steamer actually projects his offense to stay healthy, however, with his biggest value hit coming in the field. His 4.3 WAR in 2015 was outstanding, but we do need to accept the possibility that it could come to represent his career best.

Ryan Goins (-1.3 WAR loss)  –  This regression could largely be linked to playing time, as the return of Devon Travis could land Goins in more of a reserve midd-infield role. Regardless, Steamer sees his BB% from 2015 as an outlier and even predicts that his defensive value will drop in the coming year. Given another season working with Brook Jacoby, however, Goins could certainly still continue to improve.