The 10 most important Blue Jays players heading into the 2023 regular season
By Eric Treuden
2. RHP Alek Manoah
Recently named the Blue Jays' Opening Day starter, Manoah is in for a huge season in 2023. The 25-year-old is coming off of one of the best pitching seasons in recent memory for the Jays, going 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA and 174 ERA+ in which he was worth 5.9 bWAR.
The 2022 All-Star and third place finisher in the AL Cy Young voting has been seen as a candidate to regress in 2023 but it's more reasonable to assume that he gets even better in the upcoming season. Last year, he put the pitching staff on his back and the Opening Day nod he will receive in a few days is a testament to the hard work he put in to turn himself into a true ace-caliber pitcher.
1. 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
As if there could be anyone else atop this list. Guerrero, 24, is the face of this Blue Jays franchise and is already in the conversation to be in the top 10 players in all of baseball. The son of Hall of Famer Vlad Sr., Junior is coming off of a "down year" in which he hit 32 home runs with 97 RBI and a .274 average. His OPS+ of 132 still put him 32 percent above league-average and he made the second of what will likely be many All-Star Game appearances as well.
Guerrero is the anchor of this Blue Jays offense. He is going to be right in the middle of all of the action and is more than capable of a return to his MVP-caliber season that he had in 2021. There is little doubt that he's one of the best first baseman in the game today and he is easily the most important player on this club. Extend the man and make him a Jay for life.