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Blue Jays: Keeping power expectations in check for this season

DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 27: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 and Bo Bichette #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays head to the dugout during the spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at TD Ballpark on February 27, 2020 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 27: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 and Bo Bichette #11 of the Toronto Blue Jays head to the dugout during the spring training game against the Minnesota Twins at TD Ballpark on February 27, 2020 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays had 13 players with double digit home runs last season, but don’t be surprised to see those numbers take a bit of a dip in 2020.

Despite the fact that the Blue Jays won just 67 games last year, there was an awful lot of offence from such an underperforming team. Especially in the home run department.

That was a common theme across Major League Baseball last season, as the league record for home runs hit in a season was obliterated. Much of the home run surge across the big leagues was blamed on the baseball that was used last season, and the Blue Jays were one of the many beneficiaries of that lively ball. At the least the hitters were anyway.

The Blue Jays had 13 players hit at least double digit home runs last season, including Randal Grichuk (31), Teoscar Hernandez (26), Justin Smoak (22), Rowdy Tellez (21), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (20), Freddy Galvis (18), Cavan Biggio (16), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (15), Brandon Drury (15), Danny Jansen (13), Billy McKinney (12), Bo Bichette (11), and Eric Sogard (10). And while I think it’s fair to expect a step forward for the offence in 2020, I don’t know that we should expect to see those kind of power numbers again during the season ahead.

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The biggest reason for that is MLB seems to be addressing the lively baseball from last season, as it appeared they had during last year’s postseason. Power numbers went way down after the regular season schedule was over, and many players around the league believed that the baseball was different for the playoffs.

It sounds like the league isn’t done with tweaking their approach to the baseball, a process that will likely go on as long as they’re being made, and according to a couple of veteran pitchers, the ball feels different this spring. In fact, if you ask Masahiro Tanaka of the Yankees or Zach Eflin of the Phillies (quoted in Mike Axisa’s recent piece on cbssports.com), the ball feels more like the one that was used during the 2017 season, and it feels “softer”.

If that’s the case, and it should come as no surprise as the power surge across the league last year, then we probably need to recalibrate our expectations for some of these guys and their season ahead.

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And that’s okay, or at least it should be for this talented young group of hitters. Unlike the Blue Jays teams of 2015-16, this group shouldn’t have to rely on the long-ball for success quite as much, as they look to have put together a more well-rounded group of hitters. With that in mind, try not to be too put off if the home runs don’t come at quite the same pace in 2020, as I imagine the numbers will be dropping across the entire league.

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