Blue Jays: What did the Opening Day lineup look like five years ago?
The Blue Jays were set to start a new era of baseball in Toronto this year. With the last generation, what did the Opening Day lineup look like in 2015?
Since yesterday was supposed to be Opening Day for Major League Baseball, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at how much things have changed for the Blue Jays over the last few years.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Blue Jays were legitimate World Series contenders, so in some ways it’s kinda strange that there’s been almost an organization-wide turnover since then.
To demonstrate my point, let’s have a look at the Opening Day roster for the Blue Jays from back in 2015. Keep in mind, then-GM Alex Anthopoulos had just came off of a huge off-season of improving the roster, especially in the batting lineup. Here’s what it looked like for the first game that season.
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1- Jose Reyes (SS)
2- Russell Martin (C)
3- Jose Bautista (RF)
4- Edwin Encarnacion (1B)
5- Josh Donaldson (3B)
6- Dioner Navarro (DH)
7- Dalton Pompey (CF)
8- Kevin Pillar (LF)
9- Devon Travis (2B)
SP- Drew Hutchison
Obviously things have changed a lot since then, but they even turned over a great deal before that season was over.
Starting at the top, Reyes was traded to the Colorado Rockies in the huge chess move that brought Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto that summer, so he was replaced at shortstop and at the top of the order. Donaldson made his way to the second spot in a move that obviously worked out just fine, as he won the AL MVP in 2015.
Bautista and Encarnacion didn’t move a whole lot, but first base and DH was eventually split more between Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak, with Navarro assuming more of a back-up catching role. Unfortunately Pompey struggled to grab ahold of the centre fielder’s job, playing in just 34 games in the big leagues in 2015, and eventually losing his job to “Superman” Pillar up the middle. Oddly enough, Pillar was really only in a starting spot at the beginning of the season because Michael Saunders tore up his knee during Spring Training.
By the last game of the regular season, the lineup had settled into a different place, which will likely look a lot more familiar to many of you.
1- Ben Revere (LF)
2- Donaldson (3B)
3- Bautista (RF)
4- Encarnacion (1B)
5- Colabello (DH)
6- Martin (C)
7- Tulowitzki (SS)
8- Pillar (CF)
9- Ryan Goins (2B)
The Blue Jays added Revere at the last minute on July 31st of that year to help bolster their outfield, and Goins took over for Devon Travis at second after he was lost to injury for the year as well. Colabello was a nice find for the Blue Jays that season, as he slashed .321/.367/.520 over 101 games that season before getting suspended for a positive PED test the following year, and never really re-surfacing at the big league level again unfortunately.
The starting rotation also had quite the boost by the end of the season as well, as Drew Hutchison wasn’t even in the playoff equation by the time it rolled around. David Price was the ace of that playoff run, and the Blue Jays also had the surprise emergence of Marco Estrada, as well as solid seasons from R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle.
I realize that a roster is made to be rebuilt, but with so much change over the last few years, it’s hard to believe that was just five years ago. A lot has changed since then, and hopefully we’ll be able to get back to watching the next generation of the Blue Jays sooner than later.