Blue Jays 2024 Season Preview: Outfielders

With spring training fast approaching, we turn our attention to those who will be playing in the outfield for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2024.

Los Angeles Angels v Toronto Blue Jays
Los Angeles Angels v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
1 of 4

Hope spring eternal for Blue Jays fans, despite an underwhelming offseason. In this respect, anticipation is only continuing to grow, with pitchers and catchers set to report to Dunedin next week.

We recently previewed the Blue Jays' catchers and infielders, then starting pitchers, based on their current 40-man roster on Along these lines, we now turn our attention to the outfield.

George Springer

If you were to look at a stat line for a Major League player that included 21 home runs and 72 RBI, this would be deemed decent enough. If you produced a .258/.327/.405 slash line, .732 OPS and 102 OPS+, this would be considered above average.

However, mention that it was George Springer who achieved these totals last season and it suddenly becomes more concerning, such are the levels he has previously reached during his 10 years in the big leagues. All indications are that he is now on a downward trend in his career, in part 'helped' by his advancing age.

In particular, Springer's batting average was his worst since his rookie year; while the OBP, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+ were all the lowest of his career. If nothing else, his home run and RBI totals were helped by coming up clutch with a .269 batting average with runners in scoring position. The MLB average was .256 in 2023.

The 34-year-old's struggles were highlighted by going 0-for-35 towards the end of July. The Blue Jays were even forced to moving him out of his leadoff spot, as they looked for any way to get him back on track.

Defensively, Springer was moved from centre to right field to help keep him effective, but it ultimately couldn't offset his declining defensive value. As per Jays Journal's Edward Eng, among other things his Range (Outs Above Average) fell from the 76th percentile in 2022 to 66th last year, while his Arm Value dropped dramatically from the 54th percentile to 14th percentile.

The four-time All-Star's overall decline even led to offseason speculation from Sportsnet's Jeff Blair, that the Blue Jays were considering trying to get out from the remainder of his contract. Instead, the team still retain the second half of the six-year, $150M deal he signed at the beginning of 2021.

In fairness to Springer, it should be noted he wasn't helped by a viral infection that impacted him for several weeks last year. He had to take antibiotics and even use oxygen canisters while playing.

Regardless, the two-time Silver Slugger's ZiPS projections have him at a similar level this coming season, with a .254/.328/.432 slash line and .760 OPS. Interestingly, they also have him replicating his 2023 totals of 21 homers and 72 RBI, but overall, his days as a starter on defence appear to be numbered.