Blue Jays: Small market victories in 2019
While the Blue Jays are surely not going to be among the league’s most competitive teams during the 2019 season, the squad will boast some sneakily productive and moderately valuable pieces to anchor a young and inexperienced roster.
It will come as a surprise to almost no one when I say that the Toronto Blue Jays will not be a great baseball team in 2019. An exciting team? Yes, of course. The roster will include, at some point, super prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a host of other revered prospects. But successful record-wise? Almost definitely not.
With that said, the team received, and will continue to receive, some decent contributions from players that one wouldn’t expect to be relevant, in terms of WAR, or wins above replacement.
In predicting the Blue Jays 2019 WAR leaders, the names Justin Smoak, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Randal Grichuk, Danny Jansen, and Guerrero Jr. all probably come to mind. While all those players are likely to put up multi-win seasons, the following three players all have the potential to contribute between 0.5 and 1.5 WAR, even though one might not expect it:
Tim Mayza, LHP
One of the few southpaws at the top of the bullpen depth chart, Tim Mayza, 27, is coming off his first (almost) full season in the bigs.
In 37 games for the Blue Jays in 2018, the native of Allentown, Pennsylvania posted an ERA of 3.28 in 35.2 frames, striking out 40 and walking just 14, boasting a WHIP of 1.318 and earning two relief wins.
Overall, the 2013 12th round pick was worth an fWAR of 0.4 and is projected to be worth a conservative 0.2 fWAR in 2019, per the Steamer projection system. The system also projects him to appear in 55 games and carry an ERA of 4.01.
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Luke Maile, C
One of baseball’s worst hitters in 2017, Luke Maile, the Blue Jays’ likely backup catcher for the 2019 season, has improved his stock dramatically thanks to a surprisingly solid 2018 campaign.
In 68 games in 2018, Maile, who turned 28 on February 6, slashed a healthy .248/.333/.366 and added three home runs, 27 RBI and 13 doubles in 202 at-bats. Having put up an fWAR of 1.2, he smashed his cumulative career total in WAR in a single season.
In 2019, the Steamer projections have him at 0.9 fWAR, estimating his average to sit at .234 in 219 major league plate appearances. At this point, Maile will probably serve as the backup to youngster Danny Jansen.
Matt Shoemaker, RHP
A newcomer to the organization, Matt Shoemaker, formerly of the Los Angeles Angels, is a potentially productive pitcher who could be worth a win or two if utilized correctly.
In over 500 innings for the Angels from 2013 to 2018, Shoemaker, 32, pitched to an ERA of 3.93 and struck out 490 while walking 129. His highest season in terms of fWAR was 2016, where he was worth 3.5 wins, according to Fangraphs.
The Steamer projections have him worth 0.9 fWAR and pitching to a below-average ERA of 4.65 (xFIP of 4.38). Additionally, the system has him starting only 19 games for the Blue Jays in 2019.
While none of the above pieces will add stupid value to a pedestrian 2019 Blue Jays team, each one could represent a potential trade piece (if required) and, most of all, add discrete yet useful value on a squad that could use as much as it can get. The 2019 season will, if nothing else, be entertaining and telling for the team.