Vladimir Guerrero Jr

Blue Jays: The important unanswered questions from this season

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 30: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays looks up during batting practice before the start of MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on March 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 30: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays looks up during batting practice before the start of MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on March 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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BUFFALO, NY – SEPTEMBER 12: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes the throw to Robbie Ray #38 to get Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Mets out at first base during the second inning at Sahlen Field on September 12, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY – SEPTEMBER 12: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays makes the throw to Robbie Ray #38 to get Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Mets out at first base during the second inning at Sahlen Field on September 12, 2020 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

Is the defence good enough?

There have been plenty of times that I’ve talked about how the Blue Jays are one, or maybe two players away from having a complete lineup going forward. There’s a great deal of talent between the bats of Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Rowdy Tellez, and more, and I expect that they’ll continue to score a lot of runs over the next few seasons.

While scoring runs may not be that much of an issue for this group most of the time, preventing them has been a different story altogether. Some of that is on the pitching staff, but there’s no denying that the Blue Jays’ defence is a current weakness.

Keeping things as simple as I can, here are the dWAR ratings for Blue Jay starters in 2020, again keeping in mind that each sample size comes over 60 games or less.

  • Danny Jansen= 0.2 dWAR
  • Biggio= 0.0 dWAR
  • Bichette= 0.0 dWAR
  • Hernandez= -0.3 dWAR
  • Tellez= -0.3 dWAR
  • Gurriel Jr. = -0.5 dWAR
  • Randal Grichuk= -0.7 dWAR
  • Guerrero Jr.= -0.7 dWAR

That’s not exactly what you want to see.

Jansen has shown himself capable of handling defensive duties behind the plate, and Biggio has been a tremendous asset as a super-utility player. Bichette is the only other player on the positive side of the ledger, and while he’s been serviceable as a big league shortstop, I’m sure he’d be the first to tell you that he still has improvements to make.

After that it’s a bit of a concern. Tellez didn’t play a whole lot of defence in 2020, but his limited stats tell you why. Even with Vlad Jr. struggling to make the transition to first base, Tellez didn’t exactly steal the starts on defence away from him. I do believe that Vlad Jr. will perform better at first base in 2021, but we’ll see what kind of work he puts in over the off-season to make that happen.

The outfield is the area of the clearest need of defensive help, but that could come from an in-house option next season. Jonathan Davis is likely the organization’s best defensive outfielder right now, and my guess is he’s the front-runner to win the fourth outfielder’s job for next spring. If that’s the case, he’ll improve the defence on the days that he’s starting, and could and should serve as a late-game defensive replacement as well. That said, the Blue Jays will need to see continued improvement from their starting trio, just as they did on offence this year.

I’m not sure that it’s an area the Blue Jays will do anything drastic about to address just yet, and hopefully the improvement can come from within.

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