Blue Jays: Four moves made in 2022 that exceeded expectations

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The Blue Jays 2022 roster looked a lot different than the previous season after several changes, including two major subtractions in Marcus Semien and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner at the time, Robbie Ray. Even with these large pieces leaving the team, the Jays brought in several key impact players for the present and future of this team, via trades and through free agency, with many of them exceeding expectations.

The addition of Matt Chapman

Starting in the offseason, the Jays acquired 3B Matt Chapman from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for INF Kevin Smith, RHP Gunnar Hoglund, LHP Zach Logue, and LHP Kirby Snead. Chapman is mostly known for his elite defensive ability at the hot corner; though he is more than just a vacuum in the field; he is a solid contributor at the plate, too. With plenty of pop in his bat, as proven by his 36 home run season with the Athletics in 2019, he struggled with plate discipline and reaching base throughout his five years with the A's.

Though not career bests, in his 2022 season with the Blue Jays, he showed an improved approach at the plate, raising both his AVG and OBP numbers while staying consistent with his home run and run producing numbers. The California native hits the ball as hard as anyone in the league, as he’s in the 97th percentile in hard hit rate and 93rd percentile in average exit velocity, along with his well-noted impeccable defensive skills, while filling a major positional need for the Jays.

Signing Kevin Gausman

Another key addition the Jays made in the offseason was signing former Giants RHP Kevin Gausman to a five-year, $110M contract. Coming off of a career season in which he posted a 14-6 record along with a sparkling 2.81 ERA and 227 strikeouts with the Giants, many were skeptical of Gausman’s consistency as he struggled early into his major league career. All worries quickly vanished as soon as the veteran right-hander took the mound for the Jays, as he followed up his career year with another excellent 31-start season.

Gausman is one of the very best pitchers in the league at limiting walks, with his rate in the 97th percentile, while also producing an outstanding chase rate in the 99th percentile, proven by his 205 strikeouts. Gausman made every batter earn their base hits by not issuing free passes, allowing him to attack hitters early in counts. The 32-year-old threw his splitter 34.8 percent of the time last season, according to Baseball Savant’s Statcast pitch arsenal, offering hitters a unique pitch type and movement, often leaving batters swinging and missing. Gausman was incredible last season and makes for one of the best one-two punches in the league alongside staff ace Alek Manoah.