It's been said once or twice (or 100 times) before, but the Toronto Blue Jays underachieved in 2023. Yes, it's impressive they qualified for the playoffs for the third time in four seasons, but there was something unsatisfying and disappointing about the year in general.
Meekly surrendering in the wild card round to the Twins was merely the exclamation mark, on a season when the Blue Jays did not play up to their talent level. This was particularly highlighted by a potent offence being decidedly average, at least for them.
Of course not everyone unperformed this past season, but there were still far too many players who didn't reach what they are capable of. Along these lines, we look at the five Blue Jays players with the most to prove in 2024:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Casual observers could be forgiven for asking why Vladmir Guerrero Jr. is on this list. After all, this is a player who led the Blue Jays in home runs, RBI, walks and OBP in 2023.
However, this actually alludes to the reality Guerrero still underachieved this past season. In fact, in many ways he is the poster child for how underwhelming the lineup was as a collective.
Red Sox legend Manny Ramirez is often associated with the quote -- and we're paraphrasing here -- of 'Manny see ball, Manny hit ball'. While we won't quite use the same description for Guerrero, from early on scouts raved about his natural and exceptional hitting ability.
And yet we're at a point now, where some people are beginning to wonder if the three-time All-Star is ever truly going to reach his full potential. Although we appreciate this may sound a little off-base (no pun intended), given he is still only 24 years of age.
Contributing towards this developing narrative, is Guerror's sensational season in 2021. This was the year when he elevated his game to another level, as everything seemed to just click.
The Montreal, Quebec native led the Majors in home runs and runs, while also pacing the AL in OBP, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. He won his first Silver Slugger Award, was named to the All-MLB First Team and finished second in voting for the AL MVP.
The sky seemed the limit for Guerrero, and by extension the Blue Jays. Instead, after two subsequent seasons which would have been considered excellent for the majority of players, questions are now being asked.
Rather than 2021 being a sign of things to come for the 2022 Gold Glove Award winner, it's now being suggested it might have been the exception rather the rule. With him also set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2025 season, it's time to step up and prove his worth in both a figurative and literal sense.