Blue Jays vs. Red Sox: Who has the advantage in a position-by-position breakdown?

Andy Moore
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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The Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox had very different seasons in 2022. The Jays won 92 games and made the playoffs, whilst the Red Sox were left looking up at their rivals from the bottom of the AL East.

In an effort to boost their fortunes, both teams have made moves in the offseason. Toronto have been more adventurous, bringing in free agents Chris Bassitt, Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Belt, whilst trading for Dalton Varsho and Erik Swanson. Whilst Boston signed former Dodgers stalwart, Justin Turner, and dipped into the overseas market to sign Masataka Yashida.

With the first meeting of the two teams scheduled for the start of May in Boston, it’ll be a while before they face off on the field, but how do they match up on paper?

Catchers

There aren’t many teams who can boast a catcher pairing as strong as the Jays in 2023. Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk are both effective with the bat and behind the plate. As a 2022 All-Star, Kirk possessed a 1.09 BB/K ration, a .372 OBP and hit 14 home runs. Jansen had an injury hit campaign but still managed to hit 15 home runs in 72 games as his offense took a strong step forward.

Former Blue Jay, Reese McGuire is in line to start the year as the primary catcher for the Red Sox. Whilst he did play the most games of his career and slightly improve his batting average last year, McGuire feels like a stopgap for Boston and he isn’t likely to be a big contributor in 2023. Backing him up is Connor Wong who looks to have a bit more power to his game than McGuire, but is still very new at the MLB level.

Advantage: Blue Jays

First Base

The Red Sox seem likely to platoon Tristan Casas and Bobby Dalbec at first base, depending on the best matchup on any given day. As a former first round pick, Casas has a lot of hype around him off the back of some impressive AAA stats and a few fleeting glimpses at the major league level last season. With a hard hit percentage of 44% after his call up last year, the 22 year old lefty looks like he could be a nice power option in the middle of the Sox lineup.

Dalbec split time between first and third in 2022, as he played his second full season as a big league ball player. Offensively he was disappointing, putting up a .682 OPS and regressing in most offensive stats. With Justin Turner added to the roster, it’s likely he’ll only appear at first base, and largely against left handed pitching - which he has put up a career slash line of .268/.333/.522 against.

Despite having his own mini slump in 2022, neither Casas or Dalbec are likely to come close to the production of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. this season. FanGraphs projects Guerrero to hit 38 home runs whilst registering an OPS of .923. The Jays have also signed Brandon Belt, who will likely serve in the DH spot whilst providing solid cover for Vladdy if needed. 

Advantage: Blue Jays

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