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Blue Jays: The next important step in the rebuilding process

TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: President Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins pose for a photo after speaking to the media as Atkins is introduced as the new general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on December 4, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: President Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins pose for a photo after speaking to the media as Atkins is introduced as the new general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays during a press conference on December 4, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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The Blue Jays should be a much improved team in 2020 if the season ever gets underway, but what is the next step of rebuilding process for this young team?

I’ve been a little more bummed out lately due to the lack of baseball on the TV these days, which has led me to a few different activities lately, including playing and even watching more video games than I ever thought I would.

I’ll admit right away that analyzing anything about real-life baseball because of a video game is a little foolish. However, as I’ve been putting in some time with my Playstation lately, I’ve been thinking about how the next step in the rebuilding process for the Blue Jays.

As I’ve mentioned here before, one of the biggest shames for this developing young roster is the lost opportunity to hone their skills in 2020. It wasn’t necessarily supposed to be a season of competing for a post-season spot in Toronto this year, but more importantly, focusing on the next steps in the rebuild. Other than gaining experience for this talented young core, what do the Blue Jays need to focus on?

Well, if my time spent playing MLB the Show has taught me anything, it’s that the Blue Jays could be one of the weaker defensive teams in baseball as currently assembled. Of course, that could change as these youngsters gain more experience, and I expect that most/all of them will continue to improve as they get more games under their belts. However, as things stand right now, I’m confident calling defence the biggest weakness of the team.

Without breaking down a whole bunch of statistics and getting too complicated, here are last year’s dWAR numbers for the projected starting lineup in 2020, according to baseball-reference.com:

Infield

1B-        Travis Shaw (0.1)
2B-        Cavan Biggio (-0.1)
SS-        Bo Bichette (0.6)
3B-        Vladimir Guerrero Jr.(-0.7)
C-           Danny Jansen (1.4)
Bench- Reese McGuire (0.2), Joe Panik (-0.3), Brandon Drury (-1.0), Rowdy Tellez (-0.8)

Outfield

LF-        Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (-0.5)
CF-        Randal Grichuk (-0.8)
RF-        Teoscar Hernandez (-0.7)
Bench- Derek Fisher (-0.1), Anthony Alford (-0.1)

Again, using dWAR is a pretty simplistic way to evaluate their team defence, but it’ll work for the basic point I’m trying to make here. Simply, the Blue Jays only had one “plus” defender last year in Gold Glove nominee Danny Jansen, and otherwise the numbers were pretty ugly. Vlad Jr. made big improvements but still rated as the worst defensive player in baseball last season, and both Bichette and Biggio have work to do to become above-average glovemen.

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As for the outfield, there’s a lot more potential than what their appears, although on paper the trio of Grichuk, Gurriel Jr., and Hernandez is pretty scary (and not in the good way). That said, Grichuk should produce better numbers, especially with a full-time position now in centre, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was showing plenty of promise as he gained more experience in left.

How do the Blue Jays address the problem? I think the place to start is to allow these talented youngsters to gain more MLB experience, and to let them show the Blue Jays where they ultimately belong on defence. Take Gurriel Jr. for example, his problems as an infielder led the Blue Jays to moving him to left field and doing their best to maximize his best skill, his hitting talents, and it worked very well. The same plan could be used for guys like Vlad Jr. with a move to first base, perhaps with Biggio to the outfield or who knows, maybe even Bichette moving off of shortstop some day.

For now, this young team needs to focus on improving that weakness in order to work toward their ultimate goals of returning to the post-season, and eventually competing for a championship. That experience will be important, and hopefully it will resume sooner than later, especially for a developing team like the Blue Jays. In the meantime, it’s something to be aware of and hopefully most of the improvement comes with experience for these young players, keeping the bulk of the needed improvement coming from in-house.

dark. Next. Am I able to get a ticket refund?

To me, that’s the next step for the Blue Jays in the rebuilding process. I’m very confident that this group is going to hit, and the pitching staff is greatly improved, and has a lot of promising arms on the way. However, you have to put together a complete effort to be a true contender, and the Blue Jays still have plenty of work ahead of them in the defensive department.

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