Blue Jays: How realistic is a 100-win season in Toronto?
By Paul Taylor
Newcomer Kevin Kiermaier and fellow outfielder George Springer both believe the Toronto Blue Jays can win 100 games this season, but a lot has to go right to reach the century mark.
With the opening day roster set, the Blue Jays are ready for the 2023 campaign, starting in St. Louis. Expectations are high, with plenty of predictions surrounding how this year will pan out in Toronto.
One of the more interesting predictions has come from the Blue Jays themselves. More specifically Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer.
Both players believe their ball club can reach 100 wins this season. As per the Toronto Sun's Rob Longley, Kiermaier said:
"Knowing this group and what guys are about, (100 wins) is very attainable. If we stay healthy and with the balanced schedule, I like our chances. I’m going to do everything in my power to motivate guys as best I can."
While agreeing with the sentiment, Springer was a bit more cautious about the possibility of reaching 100 wins. Also speaking to Longley, he said:
"I believe we are capable, but this is a hard league and hard division. I think we’re capable of doing it, but if you look around the league and see the teams that win 100 games, it’s hard to do."
In respect of the Blue Jays' history, they would be breaking new ground. During 46 years of baseball in Toronto, they have hit the 90-win mark on eight occasions, but never topped 100.
The closest the Jays came to reaching 100 wins was in 1985, when they recorded 99 regular season victories. It started the most successful period in club history, culminating with their two World Series wins in 1992 and 1993, respectively.
For what it's worth, two of the 90-win campaigns have come in the last couple of years. In fact, Springer acknowledges the Blue Jays could have already reached 100 wins with a little more focus, saying:
"We’ve been close the last two years. A lot of games we let slip away as a team, but that goes back to us doing little things, the things that can be the difference between a win and a loss."
With a loaded roster, the Blue Jays are quite rightly among the favorites to win the World Series in 2023. However, they have to first of all get past the New York Yankees, who themselves won 99 regular season games last year.
Along these lines, Kiermaier knows it's important to come out of the gates fast. He said;
"I’d love to set the tone and go out there and try to win the division. We’re trying to take the next step. Everyone knows (winning the division) is important. That’s the goal."
Aside from having a hugely talented team. the Blue Jays' quest for 100 wins will be helped by MLB's decision to revamp the schedule setup. As Kiermaier referenced, the thinking was to have a more balanced schedule, including more interleague games and at least one series versus every team in the majors.
This will greatly benefit the Blue Jays, playing in the traditionally tough AL East (just last year, three of the five teams made the playoffs and all but one finished above .500).
In this respect, last season the Jays faced each of their four divisional rivals 19 times for a total of 76 games. This year they will play them just 13 times each, meaning a reduction to 52 overall games.
Of course, it will take more than a - theoretically at least - easier schedule to reach 100 wins for the first time in club history. As much as the talent is undeniable, several key players need to step up their game.
Chief among these is Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who last year was subpar, at least by his high standards. A step back (forward) towards his 2021 form would benefit the Blue Jays immensely.
In terms of the rotation, José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi both also need to peform closer to their talent level. If they do, the Blue Jays will have one of the best rotations in the majors.
Ultimately, the Blue Jays will have a hard time reaching this 100-win plateau, not that there would be any issue with being proven wrong. Regardless, they are still well-placed to challenge for their first World Series championship in 30 years.