Blue Jays Breakout Stars
If you told me before the season started that the player on the Blue Jays with the best case for a spot on the All-Star team was Alejandro Kirk, I would have called you crazy. However, as the voting process has begun, there may not be a more obvious choice at a position than Kirk at catcher.
He has just continued to improve and, in a season where many backstops have struggled hitting, Kirk seems to put a good swing on the ball virtually every time he’s up to bat. Since May 2nd, Kirk has hit .376 with five homers and eight doubles with OPS of 1.072. Overall he’s hitting .329 with five home runs, 18 RBI, and a position-player team-high 2.2 WAR. He’s also got some of the best framing stats of any catcher, especially on low pitches.
Santiago Espinal wasn’t the opening day second baseman, but he’s manned the position brilliantly almost every game since. At the onset of Spring Training, Espinal showed up to camp bulked up and it’s paid off big-time.
He showed a power-hitting ability not seen before, early and often with five homers and 16 doubles, and is among the AL leaders in hits with 58. In addition to the increased slugging, Espinal is proving himself to be one of the better defensive players in MLB. He has a dWAR of 0.5 and is garnering early Gold Glove consideration.
Alek Manoah had an excellent rookie season but he also flashed an erratic streak, highlighted by his league-leading 16-hit batters. This year, he’s taken his game to a whole new level.
Manoah is a fierce competitor on the mound and a complete workhorse. He never wants to come out of a game and always believes he can get the next batter out. His numbers this year are incredible, 7-1, 1.81 ERA, .096 WHIP, and a 2.5 WAR. Not only does Manoah deserve a spot, but his performance is also drawing early Cy Young buzz.