Blue Jays: Over/Under a 2.5 fWAR from the left field platoon

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 30: Steve Pearce
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 30: Steve Pearce /

Up until a few weeks ago, the Toronto Blue Jays outfield was looking pretty bare with Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera, and Steve Pearce as the veteran holdovers. It was looking like at least one of Anthony Alford or Teoscar Hernandez would crack the Opening Day roster, but following the additions of Randal Grichuk and Curtis Granderson, that won’t happen. Granderson and Pearce expect to be platoon mates in left and that’s where I want to look at what we can expect production wise from the pair.

As things currently sit, Steve Pearce will see playing time in left field against left handed pitching, while Curtis Granderson will play against right handers. I’m sure Pearce will see some time against right handers as well, as he can hit righties just fine. As we’ve seen during John Gibbons tenure, he will utilize whoever is hot at the moment, but the base playing time will likely start as the aforementioned platoon.

Steve Pearce and Curtis Granderson are projected by Depth Charts to be worth 1.0 wins each with the following seasons:

  • Pearce – 108 games, 455 at-bats, 19 HR, 59 RBI, .257/.329/.461, 108 wRC+
  • Granderson – 105 games, 441 at-bats, 17 HR, 57 RBI, .242/.340/.444, 107 wRC+

Both are projected to have almost identical production, and they’re very good seasons for part-time players at that. Pearce will likely see some time at first when Smoak isn’t playing, and DH if Kendrys Morales isn’t playing. Granderson will likely see some time at all three outfield positions. They both can provide some positional flexibility for John Gibbons, but will primarily be used in left field.

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Now, I would find it very difficult to see Steve Pearce amassing 455 at-bats considering his career best season in 2014 he had just 383. Pearce is just one season removed from a season with the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles where he posted a 2.0 fWAR in 302 at-bats. He had a really nice 2016 season and there’s no reason to believe that he can’t have a year like that or close to it if used correctly and stays healthy.

I can see Granderson getting upwards of 441 at-bats, which would be down considerably from his 527 at-bats with the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers last year. Granderson struggled mightily against left handers, which likely brought his 2.1 fWAR down from what it could have been considering how well he hit right handers. With the struggles against left handers and Pearce’s career success against them, it’s unlikely Granderson will see many at-bats against same siders, which can only help his numbers for 2018.

These were the splits for Pearce against left handers (2016 numbers), his numbers against right handers in 2017, and Granderson against right handers in 2017:

  • Pearce – 82 at-bats, 4 doubles, 7 HR, 18 RBI, .317/.411/.622, 176 wRC+ (2016 vs LH)
  • Pearce – 226 at-bats, 12 doubles, 8 HR, 29 RBI, .270/.329/.438, 102 wRC+ (2017 vs RH)
  • Granderson – 345 at-bats, 21 doubles, 21 HR, 50 RBI, .214/.337/.470, 114 wRC+

Pearce is known to be a left-handed masher for his career. He hit right handers quite well last year but the Blue Jays didn’t get the lefty masher Steve Pearce. Combine the production of those two into what that can be from the left fielders and you have the following against right handers:

  • 571 at-bats, 33 doubles, 29 HR, 79 RBI, .242/.333/.454, 108 wRC+

Using the simple fWAR calculator provided by Believeland Ball, which is as accurate as I could find, so take it with a grain of salt, and you have a 2.4 fWAR combined from Pearce and Granderson. That would have them each at 1.2. If Pearce can hit left handers like he did in 2016, that 2.4 fWAR could be much higher for the two of them combined.

Considering that the Toronto Blue Jays will be using these two to the best of their skillsets, one could believe that they could do better than 1.2 fWAR’s each. I would say that with health and what they’ve both done for their careers, that they could each at least bring 1.5 fWAR. Simple math has that as a 3.0 player. Pearce could bring closer to a 2.0 fWAR like 2016 if he hits left handers well, like he’s usually done for his career.

The current projections have them both at 2.0 fWAR from Depth Charts. Using the simple fWAR calculator and what they did last year, they would be approximately 2.4. I can easily see the both of them combining to be over 2.5 wins and that isn’t so far fetched. If the Blue Jays get 2.0 from the both of them, that’s alright. If they get 2.5 or higher, that’s more than fine. If they can combine for a 3.0 fWAR or higher, that’s pretty good for a platoon. I see no reason why they can’t combine to be worth at least 2.5 but I think it can be closer to 3.0. If that happens, the Blue Jays are set in left field for 2018.

Next: Blue Jays accumulating pitching depth in the minors