Six New Year’s resolutions for the Toronto Blue Jays
Keep George Springer Healthy
After signing the largest financially driven contract in Blue Jays history, having George Springer limited to just 78 games last season is a tough pill to swallow and one that fans were not expecting. When healthy, Springer is a shutdown outfielder who provides some pop in the lineup, posting 20+ home runs from 2016 to 2019 with an OPS higher than .780 each campaign. Despite the injuries, the Connecticut product still put up a .264/.352/.555 slash line with 19 home runs and a .907 OPS last year while hobbling around on one good leg.
With Semien gone, a healthy Springer should help replace the lost value if the front office does not improve the infield roster and rolls into Spring Training with Santiago Espinal at third base and Cavan Biggio at second. In my opinion, 140+ games next year for Springer is a check in the ‘win’ column, as the club will most likely monitor his activity and use him in the DH role after the knee injury sidelined him for a large portion of the 2021 campaign.
Continue to Keep the Strikeouts Down
Last season, the Blue Jays topped numerous offensive categories like OPS (.796), home runs (262), and slugging (.466) but still fell short of the playoffs. One category the Blue Jays also led in was strikeouts, as Jays hitters were only sat down 1218 times in 2021. Teoscar Hernandez led the club with 148 K’s with Semien trailing right behind him at 146.
Continuing the trend of keeping the strikeouts low will go a long way in 2022, especially in the AL East where the Jays will be facing some strong arms like Gerrit Cole, Shane McClanahan, Tyler Glasnow, and the return of Chris Sale and Luis Severino, both of whom missed most of last season after undergoing separate Tommy John surgery’s.
The AL East is always a dogfight with the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox always making competition tough and finding ways to get on base, and keeping the strikeouts low will help pave the way for a strong season that could result in a postseason berth come October.