Blue Jays: Biggest surprises of the 2017 season

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 17: Justin Smoak
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 17: Justin Smoak /
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TORONTO, ON – JUNE 30: Josh Donaldson
TORONTO, ON – JUNE 30: Josh Donaldson /

Below average defence

Yes, Kevin Pillar is a human highlight reel, regularly wowing us with his wall-crashing grabs. We’re obviously not talking about him here. And I’m not really talking about Jose Bautista or Steve Pearce‘s play in the outfield either, because I think we all knew that would be a bit of a weakness.

I’m talking more about the guys who’ve thrived in the past. A hobbled Troy Tulowitzki wasn’t nearly the asset he used to be, and he’s been out most of the year anyway, finishing the season with 66 games played. Ryan Goins has always been an outstanding defender, but he rated at -0.1 dWAR, which is alarming and puzzling given his past performances. Darwin Barney has a Gold Glove award in his cabinet, but has been worth -0.2 dWAR in his age 31 season.

Josh Donaldson has greatly improved his performance lately as well, much like he has on the offensive side since being fully healthy. Still, he rates at just 0.3, and has been considered an above average asset in the past (1.5 dWAR in 2015). Russell Martin has missed a great deal of time on the DL as well, and his replacements have been pretty rough, outside of Luke Maile of course. And of course, Devon Travis has missed all but 50 games this season, so it was a steady dose of Goins and Barney before the September call-ups, and Richard Urena‘s arrival.

For a team that had a quality infield on paper, there have been a lot more struggles than I ever would have expected. If healthy, I believe this group could be very solid on defence, and look for the Blue Jays to build a bit more depth there before 2018.