Blue Jays Award Watch: April 2018

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Marcus Stroman
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Marcus Stroman /

Last season we did a series on which Blue Jays were on the major awards voters watch lists. This season, I’ll start right from the beginning with who looks good out of spring training.

Of the major MLB awards (including MVP, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Manager of the Year), I forecast Blue Jays players making noise in two of them, MVP, and Cy Young. This season there aren’t many rookies on the team who will be making lots of noise. We’ll wait until 2019 for that when Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette are forecast to make their MLB debuts. I also don’t see John Gibbons being a favourite for Manager of the Year. In fact, there are some people thinking he could be fired as early as May if the Jays start out slowly.

So, with that being said, here is my Blue Jays award watch for April 2018.


Blue Jays contenders: Josh Donaldson

This shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Since 2013, Donaldson has placed at least in the top 22 in each MVP vote. This includes last season where he got 22nd in the vote despite only playing in 113 games. Until then, he had a run of four straight seasons with a top 10 finish, getting eighth once, fourth twice, and winning once, in 2015.

In 113 games last season, Donaldson still put up 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and a  .270 average. In a  full season, there would’ve been a strong possibility that Donaldson would’ve been in the top five in MVP voting, and even in top three, in he kept his average and power numbers up.

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

The problem for Donaldson lies in the strength of American League players. Not only does he have the defending AL MVP, Jose Altuve, to go against, last season’s NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, got traded over to the American League during the Marlins infamous fire sale. Add in perennial MVP darling Mike Trout, and last season’s AL Rookie of the Year, Aaron Judge, and Donaldson has a huge mountain to climb to get back on top.

That being said, it’s not an impossible task. Donaldson has defeated Trout and Altuve before, in his winning 2015 year when Trout came in second, and Altuve came in 10th. It’ll be hard, but I’d be wary in betting against Donaldson in his walk year.

Cy Young

Blue Jays contenders: Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez

This may be a bit more surprising, but shouldn’t be something no-one has ever thought of before. Stroman showed last season that he’s an elite pitcher. He had a 3.09 ERA, and 164 strikeouts while coming in eighth in Cy Young voting, and winning a Gold Glove.

Sanchez had a bit more of a tough season. With blister issues, he missed most of the season, only making eight starts, with a 4.25 ERA. It was a far cry from his 2016 season when he had an AL-leading 3.00 ERA, and came in seventh in Cy Young voting.

These two starters have the same problems. First, injuries. Stroman has been battling shoulder inflammation in his pitching arm but should be ready for his first start. Sanchez, well, we’ll have to see. He looked fantastic in spring training, but with his blister issues, we’ll have to hope they get better.

Some people are blaming the ‘juiced’ ball for the number of blisters on pitchers, but, as of now, that’s not confirmed.

The second issue, when it comes to Cy Young voting, is strikeouts. Maybe it shouldn’t be this way, but most of the Cy Young contenders approach 200 strikeouts year in, and year out. It’s a stat that seems to be counted on as a  mark of a good pitcher, like ERA.

The problem with Stroman and Sanchez is that they don’t get many strikeouts, relatively. Last season, Stroman had 164, while Sanchez had 161 in 2016. Compare that to last season’s Cy Young winners, Corey Kluber, and Max Scherzer. Kluber had 265 strikeouts last season, while Scherzer had 268.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that pitchers with high strikeout numbers get more votes.

Next: Blue Jays: Stage is set for series to remember in Montreal

Did I miss someone? Do you think another Jay is worthy of award consideration, or that one of the Jays I mentioned doesn’t belong here? Let me know in the comments.