4 Blue Jays who could be the difference between success and failure in 2024

The talent is there for the Blue Jays to improve on a disappointing 2023, but which players are key to the team shifting from a peripheral to genuine contender?

Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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Daulton Varsho

Daulton Varsho exceeded expectations during his first season in Toronto with the Blue Jays. However, this was specific to his defensive play rather than overall.

Varsho led all players with 29 Defensive Runs Saved, which in turn helped the Blue Jays also lead the way in this category as a team. He ranked second with a 2.8 dWAR and only had one error all season, as the most consistent and durable defensive player in the game.

The same cannot be sad for the 27-year-old's exploits at the plate, where he disappointed all season. He produced a .220/.285/.389 slash line, .674 OPS and 85 OPS+.

The thing is though, that Varsho is actually capable of being a decent offensive presence. Consider that a season earlier in Arizona, he hit 27 home runs and 74 RBI.

In this respect, the 2017 second round draft pick did still rank tied-third on the Blue Jays in homers and fifth in RBI, although this does also allude to the team underperforming offensively as a whole. Regardless, if he can hit more like he did in 2022 (and 2021) with the Diamondbacks, it would greatly help the team.

Another reason the Blue Jays need to see better production from Varsho, is that he can do damage once he's on base. He's a strong runner, who is also good at stealing bases. (He was also first in the AL in bunts last season, which is something to utilize in contributing towards getting him on base more in the first place.)

As per Jays Journal's Ethan Miller, the Blue Jays were so eager/desperate to bring Varsho's bat to life, he was moved all around the lineup. In fact, he was the only player on the team to see at least one at-bat in every position in the order.

Not helping the Marshfield, Wisconsin native is the success of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who was traded to Arizona in exchange for him (along with Gabriel Moreno). Similarly playing in left field when he wasn't the DH, Gurriel was superior offensively and named to his first All-Star Game.

In one respect, Varsho will likely never be one of the most feared bats in the Blue Jays lineup, but he can still be extremely productive if he gets into a rhythm. If he combines this with continuing to produce at the same level defensively, he will be one of the best overall players on the team.