The unofficial start of the second half of the 2022 MLB Season starts Thursday, while the Blue Jays aren’t starting back until Friday. I thought it would be fun to take a look at who the top five Blue Jays from the first half of the season have been in this opinion piece.
5. Jordan Romano – 3-2, 20 saves, 2.65 ERA, 1.176 WHIP
The Markham, Ontario native has made Canadian baseball fans very proud. Jordan Romano is putting together his third consecutive season of being an elite bullpen arm and was recognized by the league, as he was named to the All-Star Game for the first time. Romano currently leads the AL in saves (20) while averaging 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Blue Jays bullpen has struggled throughout the season, but Romano has been the piece that has not wavered and since May 31, Romano has allowed runs in just two of his 14 appearances and has 1.84 ERA while holding opponents to a .196 batting average. Throughout the season, Romano has never allowed runs in back-to-back appearances, has surrendered runs in only seven of his 35 outings, and has allowed more than one run just twice.
4. Vladimir Guerrero Jr – .271/.346/.484, 20 HR, 57 RBI
As the second half for the Blue Jays season is about to start, I think most fans would say Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has had a bit of a disappointing start to the season. Even with the slow start he is still on pace for 34 home runs with 100 RBI and a batting average of .271. This shows how high the expectations fans have for the 23-year old are, who finished second in AL-MVP voting in 2021.
Guerrero has yet to go on a really hot streak this year, but he has been able to avoid going cold for too long, and stayed consistent throughout the year. Just once this season Guerrero has gone more than two games without a hit, which was at the end of May when he went four games without adding to the hit column. The power hitting first basemen currently leads the team in both home runs and RBI, and takes a three-game hitting streak into the second half of the season.
3. Alejandro Kirk – .315/.395/.487, 11 HR, 37 RBI
I will fully admit that coming into the 2022 season I felt that if the Blue Jays could get a good quality player in return for Alejandro Kirk they should do it. I thought he had an above average bat, but didn’t think he could be an everyday major leaguer. I felt even stronger through his first 20 games of the season when he was a posting a slash line of .232/.323/.232 with no extra-base hits and just two RBI. However, he has changed my mind to the point that I would look at moving top prospect Gabriel Moreno if the right trade came along (Juan Soto).
Since May 2, Kirk has been on absolute fire as over the last 63 games he has posted a slash line of .337/.415/.555 with 24 extra-base hits (11 home runs) while walking (25) more times than he has struck out (22). He is now at the point that not just Blue Jays fans notice him, but all of baseball is catching up, as he was voted the starting catcher for the American League at the All-Star Game.
The Blue Jays have had a few players step up and force the league to take notice of their talents which led to five players being named to the All-Star Game
2. Kevin Gausman – 6-7, 2.87 ERA, 1.287 WHIP
I actually read a comment that was posted at the end of a recent article from a fan pointing out all the mistakes that GM Ross Atkins made this past off-season, which included that Kevin Gausman was one of them due to his record. I could not disagree more and hopefully the fans recognizes that the win-loss record isn’t always everything.
Gausman currently leads the American League in FIP (1.85), as well as the least amount of home runs per nine innings, as he has given up the long ball just three times over 94 innings. Gausman has provided ten quality starts this year and has allowed more than three earned runs in just one appearance this season. In five of Gausman’s seven losses he has a combined ERA of 3.03, which shows he may have lost because of lack of offence in those games. The right-hander has had two, what I would call rougher starts, one where he allowed three earned runs over 3.2 innings, and a second where he allowed five earned runs over 2.1 innings. The remaining 15 starts, Gausman has combined to have a 2.25 ERA.
1. Alek Manoah – 10-4, 2.28 ERA, 0.959 WHIP
Alek Manoah is showing that his 2021 rookie campaign was just the beginning of great things to come. The sophomore has jumped out as the Ace of the pitching staff as he has given the team a quality start in 15 of his 18 appearances. Manoah has allowed more than two earned runs in just three starts this season; what is more impressive is that he has pitched at least six innings while allowing one or less runs eight times. The 6’6”, 285 lb pound righty is itching for his first complete game and is getting closer to finishing it out. To cap off the first half of the season, Manoah was named to the American League All-Star Team where he pitched one shutout inning striking out the side.
Who would be your selection for the top five Blue Jays from the first half?