1. Bounce-back seasons from key players
The first and most broad expectation amongst fans is simply that key players have bounce-back seasons. There were a variety of key contributors to the 2021 and 2022 teams that either weren’t all that noticeable, or disappeared entirely in 2023.
The most obvious is Alek Manoah, as the young right-hander went from Cy Young finalist to having a 5.87 ERA over just 87.1 innings. Multiple reasons have been identified or hinted at by different members of the media, but one thing is agreed upon, Manoah can bounce back and will compete for a job in the rotation come spring training. Despite the disappointing year, the rotation remained one of the best in baseball thanks to comebacks from Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi. Manoah's spot in the rotation became a cause for concern, and the team suffered as a result. A bounce-back to effectiveness for Manoah would be massive towards this teams success in 2024.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could be seen as the second most disappointing player from last season, and one needing a bounce-back. While being 17% better than the average major league hitter in 2023, Guerrero's bat combined with his subpar defensive metrics totaled only 2 bWAR, good for twelve on the team. With his ceiling, skillset and history, Guerrero should be entering every season as one of the best players in the AL, not a middle of the pack hitter on his own team. His batted ball profiles and expected stats remain elite, it’s just a matter of putting it together and getting results consistently.
George Springer had his first healthy season since his days as a Houston Astro, but managed only a 102 OPS+ over those 154 games. Springer will need to hone his discipline at the plate and go back to making hard contact if he’s to stagnate his regression in 2024. Springer remains a multi-tool threat, even at 34-years of age. There’s reason to believe one of the captains on this roster can bounce back, and hopefully have another healthy season.
Lastly, there were some role players or guys not necessarily in the spotlight who didn’t seize their opportunities when presented. Despite being one of the best defensive players in baseball, Daulton Varsho took a step backward with the bat. It was theorized he was primed for a breakout once moving to a hitter friendly Rogers Centre, but that never materialized. Another role player who toiled in inconsistency was Cavan Biggio. With a 116 OPS+ over his first 159 games, paired with his versatility, Biggio had the makings of an effective big league player. However, since 2021, Biggio’s bat has regressed to around replacement level. When he is going good, he’s pulling the ball in the air and walking at an above average rate. If Biggio could get back to this level of production in 2024, the Blue Jays would have one of the games better utility-men, and possibly an intriguing trade candidate.