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Blue Jays vs. Giants- Who needs a rebuild more?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 11: Justin Smoak
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 11: Justin Smoak /
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Both the Blue Jays and the Giants have designs on contending in 2018 after disastrous 2017 seasons. Who has the better chance to turn things around?

The Blue Jays’ fan base is pretty divided on how the organization should proceed in 2018 and beyond. Some folks feel the team is in need of a complete tear down and start over, while others believe that 2017 was a comedy of errors, and that the nucleus of the current group is strong enough to contend for a playoff spot next year. There are solid points to either side of this debate.

But the Blue Jays aren’t the only team that’s trying to decide what direction to take things, as many other GM’s across baseball are not only evaluating the free agent and trade markets at this time of the year, but also their own assets.

In the era of the second Wild Card position, it’s not as difficult to qualify for the postseason as it once was, and that routinely has middle of the road type teams thinking they have a chance at postseason glory. There is an argument to be made that you just have to get there and get hot at the right time as well, so it’s hard to blame front offices for being optimistic.

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Which is basically where the Blue Jays are at right now, and for the moment that’s okay. They have to decide whether their team is good enough to take a shot, especially in a new reality with the Yankees becoming a superpower again, and the Red Sox being young, talented, and deep.

Their situation reminds me a lot of another team that’s been successful in recent years, but had a bad 2017: the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants have been an oddity in recent years, as they’ve been World Series champions on three occasions since 2010, but have alternated between successful years, and then missing the playoffs altogether. Here’s how they’ve done:

2010- World Series champs (92-70)

2011- Missed the playoffs    (86-76)

2012- World Series Champs (94-68)

2013- Missed the playoffs    (76-86)

2014- World Series Champs (88-74)

2015- Missed the playoffs    (84-78)

2016- Lost in the NLDS          (87-75)

2017- Missed the playoffs    (68-94)

2017 was an unmitigated disaster for the Giants, but like the Blue Jays it was a comedy of errors. For example, their ace pitcher Madison Bumgardner got hurt while dirt biking, and was limited to just 17 starts. That’s not a great place to start, to be sure.

Also like the Blue Jays, the Giants entered the offseason with an optimistic view of their roster and their chances in 2018, assuming they could make the right moves. Unfortunately for them, they’ve missed on both Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton, both of whom they pursued and ultimately ended up on the outside looking in. They’re still expected to pursue other significant upgrades, but that’s where the comparison to the Blue Jays comes in.

An article from Dayn Perry at www.cbssports.com asks the question of if the Giants should now rebuild after missing out on their big targets, and it’s a valid question to be sure. That said, the Giants have plenty of veterans who are smack dab in the middle of their prime, and with a little help it’s feasible they could turn things around. Sound familiar?

This is about as imperfect as it gets when it comes to a comparison, but let’s take a look at the Blue Jays’ top five assets against those belonging to the Giants’. Stay with me here.

Blue Jays 2018 Fangraphs Projections (Using Steamer)

Marcus Stroman– 3.8

Aaron Sanchez– 1.7

Josh Donaldson– 6.3

Justin Smoak– 1.7

Roberto Osuna– 0.9

Total= 14.4 WAR

Giants 2018 Fangraphs Projections

Madison Bumgarner– 3.4

Johnny Cueto– 1.9

Buster Posey– 4.0

Brandon Crawford– 2.7

Mark Melancon– 0.7

Total= 12.7 WAR

I included the top two projected starters, top two projected hitters, and the closer for each team. I am more than aware that there are 25 players on a big league roster, and how the 40 man plays into things throughout the course of a season, but I wanted to illustrate a couple points here.

First, the Blue Jays’ nucleus has a higher score here, but I’ll admit there are a couple key factors. Aaron Sanchez’ health is a huge consideration, as is the future contract status of Josh Donaldson. That said, if we’re talking about an immediate future here, then those two heavily factor into whether the Blue Jays success next year or not.

Secondly, without listing out a graph, the Blue Jays have a stronger supporting cast around their top five players, as the Giants don’t have a lot of terribly valuable assets beyond their top five. Brandon Belt is a solid hitter, and Joe Panik is decent at second  base, but the rest of their offence is pretty anemic, which is why they pursued Stanton so hard. Their rotation isn’t anything to write home about either, with Jeff Samardzija being the other plus arm, and then there are question marks like Matt Moore after that.

Despite all of these facts, the popular narrative around the Giants has been if they throw some money at the likes of Stanton, or a J.D. Martinez to bring some added pop to the lineup, that things could reverse course in a real hurry. That may also be because their minor league system is considered to be among the weakest in baseball, which is another area the Blue Jays have to their advantage with premier talents like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette coming sooner than later.

Lastly, if you’re among the section of the Blue Jays’ fanbase that’s thinking, “well we may as well give up now that the Yankees are loaded”, how do you think the Giants feel about sharing a division with the Los Angeles Dodgers? Since the Dodgers’ new ownership group has taken over, they’ve been the biggest spenders in all of baseball.

My point after all of this, is if the Giants aren’t going to tear down and rebuild in the face of what they’re looking at, then why on earth would the Blue Jays throw in the towel? With a strong core in place, talent in the minor league pipeline, and a fresh slate to work with in 2018, I would argue the Blue Jays are in a much more advantageous position than the Giants, as of this writing of course.

Next: There's extra motivation to extend Josh Donaldson

Things could always change, but I believe there are plenty of reasons to view the Blue Jays’ potential as a “Glass Half Full”. So sue me.

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