Blue Jays 2017 Award Watch: May

Apr 8, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar (11) catches a fly ball against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar (11) catches a fly ball against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Going into the second month of the season, the Blue Jays have severely disappointed. Despite that, there are a handful of players pulling their weight who could end up with award votes if they keep up their current production.

It’s no secret that the Jays have been among the worst teams in the league to start the season. With an 8-17 record going into May, the Jays have a long way to go to get back into contention. While most of the players on the team have to improve drastically, there are some that are doing more than their fair share of work.

While its not an exhaustive list, there are players who could be getting awards votes. The two players who fell of the lists were both injured, so they could end up back in contention by the time June rolls around.

Most Valuable Player:

Blue Jays contenders: Kevin Pillar, OF, Justin Smoak, 1B.

Off the board from last month: Josh Donaldson, 3B.

Pillar has arguably been the Jays’ best player through the first month. He’s hitting a .301 average, has a .844 OPS, and has four home runs, eight RBIs, and two stolen bases, while hitting leadoff most recently. His average and home runs are 23rd in the AL, his OPS is 25th along with his stolen bases, while his RBI total is only 72nd. His WAR is 0.6, which puts him on pace for 3.6 WAR at the end of the season.

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But this isn’t counting if he gets better defensively. Right now he has just -0.1 dWAR. If he does get back up defensively, he’ll get a much better WAR than what he has, when you combine great defence with an offensive breakout. Because of this, his WAR has been largely helped out by his great offensive outburst. The Jays getting better seasons from their other offensive pieces should also help out his RBI totals.

Next is Smoak. Now, hear me out on this. I know he doesn’t have the best career numbers, but he’s doing pretty well this season. He’s hitting .273, which is far above his career average of .223. He also has good power numbers, hitting four home runs with 12 RBIs. His OPS is .811, so there needs to be some improvement if he is to contend for MVP. His home run total is 24th, his RBI total is 37th, his average is 34th and his OPS is 30th. Smoak’s WAR is 0.2, mostly because of -0.2 dWAR. Like Pillar, defence is his calling card, and should get better, therefore increasing his WAR, and his contention for MVP.

While the Jays MVP contenders aren’t favourites right now, if they continue their paces, or even get better, they could rise up to the top.

Cy Young:

Blue Jays contenders: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Marco Estrada, RHP.

Off the board from last month: Aaron Sanchez, RHP.

Marcus Stroman is the only player I had from last month still in contention for an award. And he’s earned it. After five starts, he has a great 2.97 ERA, two wins, and 28 strikeouts in 36.1 innings. His ERA has him 16th in the league, his strikeouts have him 22nd, and his wins have him 18th.

The interesting thing here is ERA. Last season, Sanchez led the AL with a 3.00 mark. With his ERA now, Stroman would’ve won it, but this season, it only has him 16th. Out of the other pitchers ahead of him, there are some that won’t be able to hold up their ERA’s. Among them are Ervin Santana with a 0.77 mark, Jason Vargas with a 1.40 mark, and Jesse Hahn with a 2.25 ERA. But those are just a sample. This all to say, Stroman has a realistic ERA that he can keep up for a full season, unlike some of the other guys ahead of him. One thing helping Stroman is his WAR, which is already up to 1.0, good for 17th in the AL, and above the likes of Jose Altuve, Chris Archer, and Adam Jones.

Ever since Marco Estrada came to the Jays, he’s been one of their best pitchers, getting must-win assignments, and succeeding in them. This season is no exception, as he’s been keeping the Jays in games that their offence fails to show up. He has an exceptional 2.70 ERA which is 14th , 33 strikeouts in 30 innings which is good for 12th and no wins. His WAR is 1.1, which puts him 13th in the AL. These numbers put Estrada into good contention thus far. If he keeps up these numbers, he could be a dark horse candidate for the Cy Young.

Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year:

Right now, with the Jays struggling to just not blowup, its lucky that John Gibbons hasn’t been fired yet, let alone be in contention for Manager of the Year. But, if the Jays were to make the playoffs, or at least get back to respectability, Gibbons could be the one rewarded for it.

Next: Blue Jays MiLB standouts- Weekend of 4/30

The rookies for the Jays haven’t been good enough to even get into the conversation for even being good on this team yet. Maybe with a bit more experience they’ll get there.