The past weekend saw Major League Baseball announce their fifth annual All-MLB First and Second Teams. Of course, what Blue Jays fans were most concerned about, was how many members of their team were among those selected.
As per Paul Casella of MLB.com, Kevin Gausman was the only Blue Jays player among the 32 who were chosen. Gausman was named to the Second Team as one of the five starting pitchers.
Understandably, there will be those who firmly believe the Blue Jays should have had more players selected. For some context in this respect, it should be noted the season as a whole was considered.
As such, this would explain why the World Series champion Rangers led the way with six selections. The Braves, who had a Major League-leading 104 regular season wins, were second with five selections, including an MLB-best three players on the First Team.
For some more context, consider that 50 percent of the votes came from a panel of experts and the other 50 percent from fans. However, before anyone suggest the high percentage of fan influence swayed things against the Blue Jays, it has to be acknowledged the team has an advantage in this respect when it comes to All-Star selections.
Regardless, if only one Blue Jays player was going to be selected, it only seems fitting that it was Gausman. With due respect to Bo Bichette, the righty was their most consistent performer throughout 2023.
With Alek Manoah experiencing an unexpected free fall, Gausman established himself as the staff ace. He went 12-9 in 31 starts, producing a 3.16 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 1.178 WHIP over 185.0 innings.
The 32-year-old's pitching was highlighted by leading the AL with a career-high 237 strikeouts and finished tied-first with 5.3 fWAR. He was named to his second All-Star Game and when it was all said and done, finished third in voting for the AL Cy Young.
There are undoubtedly other Blue Jays more than capable of being named to the All-MLB Teams. However, this honour is about what players actually produce rather than their potential, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. serving as a prime example of this.
Ultimately, this all speaks to how the Blue Jays underachieved as a team during 2023, when so much more was anticipated. Fans can only hope that Gausman serves as motivation to his teammates next season, which would in turn make the ball club a more genuine contender.