Blue Jays FanGraphs Steamer Projections Analysis for 2022
By Henry Wright
Teoscar Hernandez proved that his 2020 Silver Slugger season was far from a fluke, as he once again put up excellent numbers in 2021. Not only did he win another Silver Slugger Award, but he earned himself a starting spot in the All-Star game along with finishing 19th in AL MVP voting. He did a ton of damage to left-handed pitching this past season, with a 203 WRC+ against south-paws (the second-best in MLB, behind only Mike Zunino) which helped carry him to a 132 WRC+. The Steamer Projections are expecting a big drop-off in 2022 though, giving him a .258/.318/.488 slash line with a 114 WRC+. This is a pretty huge drop-off for someone with a 134 WRC+ over the past two seasons, and I can only assume that they’re projecting his astronomical numbers against lefties to come back down to earth.
Given his sudden rise from league-average-hitter to borderline star, I feel like pessimism about Teo has been fairly prominent this offseason. Having said that, over these past two years, he’s more than earned his reputation as one of the American League’s better hitters, and even if he is due for some regression to the mean, I think that the drop in production we’re seeing from FanGraphs’ projections might be a bit drastic.
Using FanGraphs Steamer Projection system, here’s a look at how some of the Blue Jays hitters and pitchers are expected to perform in 2022.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is an extremely streaky hitter, which makes projecting him almost impossible. After a pretty abysmal first few months of the 2021 season, Lourdes got hot, posting a 136 WRC+ in the second half of the season. His season total was dragged down by the aforementioned slow start, so his final WRC+ ended up at 107, and that’s just about where FanGraphs has him, as they project him have a 108 WRC+. They also project him to have a very weak season in the field, giving him a -8.7 defensive value, which may come as a surprise if you just look at his Gold Glove nominations, but if you’ve watched the Blue Jays play, you know the field is where he struggles the most.
As I said, Lourdes is almost impossible to project, given how streaky he is, but personally, I have a bit more optimism that he’ll carry his second-half hot streak into 2022, and put up a WRC+ closer to 115. That being said, you can’t fault the formula for this projection, Lourdes feels like a wild card.
Currently projected to be the fourth outfielder/DH for the 2022 season, Randal Grichuk appeared in 149 games last season, mostly due to George Springer’s absence. I’ll be completely honest, I think that Grich is an incredibly limited hitter, and I am not particularly optimistic about him entering the season. He finished dead-last in the American League for on-base percentage in both 2019 and 2021 and doesn’t bring enough to the table in other parts of his game to make up for it, posting an 85 WRC+ this past year. FanGraphs is actually projecting improvement from Grichuk though, giving him a 99 WRC+ with a .246/.296/.459. This improvement seems to stem from a projected power surge with 23 homers in just 118 games, which isn’t entirely unfounded, but even when he hit 31 in 2019, he still finished with a 90 WRC+.
Again, I’m not very high on Grichuk, and I wouldn’t anticipate some breakout season from him in 2022. However, moving him into more of a utility role could help his production, so don’t completely rule out his ability to be a league-average hitter.