This avenue is the easiest course for the Blue Jays front office to pursue and the obvious approach that the FO is taking since they didn’t make any outfield additions during the off-season. Just sit back and wait for things to hopefully get better. Is this a good approach or even an approach that could work? As mentioned earlier, the Blue Jays predominantly used Randal Grichuk, Teoscar Hernandez, Billy McKinney, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the outfield. With the late addition of Derek Fisher and the out of options, Anthony Alford, there could be a couple of additional names to add to the list.
By this time, I think most people should have a pretty good idea of what Grichuk is. Randal will turn 29 in August and has now played in parts of 6 MLB seasons. Grichuk has always had low walk rates coupled with high strikeout rates, which will almost always lead to low OBP. Grichuk has a career OBP of just .293, and expecting that to change much will likely leave you in tears. If Grichuk can get back to his 2018 production while playing average defense in centerfield, I think he could be a 2 WAR player with the ability to knock 30 homers out of the park. At this point, I view Grichuk as a placeholder for the Jays centerfielder of the future. Who that is might be a good question, though.
Hernandez is 27 years of age and has struggled to find the consistency to be an everyday MLB outfielder. Over the past two seasons, Hernandez has had strikeout rates over 30% and has struggled mightily in the outfield on defense. However, that’s in the past. I genuinely believe that 2020 could be a breakout season for Hernandez. With an improvement in strikeout numbers and more consistent playing time, I believe that Hernandez could produce the shocking season like Jose Bautista‘s 2010 season where he hit 54 homers after just 13 the season prior or last year’s shocker from Jorge Soler where he came out of nowhere to hit 48 for the Royals.
If the Jays are dreaming of a breakout, this could be the player most likely to surprise. However, even with a breakout season, Hernandez could still max out on WAR at 4.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr./strong>
Gurriel Jr is 26 years old and has found a place as the Blue Jays left fielder. Gurriel Jr has shown spots of great promise but has had issues attempting to stay on the field. The 2020 baseball season could be a big year for Gurriel Jr to really make his mark on this team. He is signed through the 2023 season and could be a big piece of the Blue Jay’s future successes.
Gurriel Jr has provided about league average defense in left but has shown flashes with a strong arm. Hopefully, with more consistent playing time, he could develop into a plus defender. On the offensive side, Gurriel Jr has legitimate game power and should be able to hit 30+ homers if he can stay healthy. With a slightly more patient approach at the plate, he should be able to increase his walk rate and decrease his strikeout numbers, which would lead to a more positive OBP. With some luck, Gurriel Jr could top 3+ in the WAR stats.
Even if everything was to break right for this group of outfielders, they would still be hard-pressed to crack 9 WAR combined.