Toronto Blue Jays 2023 Season Preview: OF Daulton Varsho
Next up in our Toronto Blue Jays 2023 season preview series is outfielder Daulton Varsho.
Addison Barger, Anthony Bass, Chris Bassitt, Brandon Belt, José Berríos, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Matt Chapman, Adam Cimber, Hagen Danner, Santiago Espinal, Matt Gage, Yimi García, Kevin Gausman, Chad Green, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Thomas Hatch, Spencer Horwitz, Danny Jansen, Leo Jimenez, Kevin Kiermaier, Yusei Kikuchi, Alejandro Kirk, Otto Lopez, Nathan Lukes, Alek Manoah, Orelvis Martinez, Tim Mayza, Whit Merrifield, Nate Pearson, Zach Pop, Trevor Richards, Jordan Romano, Hyun Jin Ryu, Erik Swanson, Zach Thompson, Trent Thornton
Here's a quick refresher on the projection models we'll look at and what they predict for Varsho's season.
STEAMER: 561 PA, 26 HR, 76 RBI, 72 R, 15 SB, .235/.304/.446, 113 wRC+, 3.3 WAR
ZiPS DC: 573 PA, 32 HR, 98 RBI, 88 R, 13 SB, .255/.319/.503, 132 wRC+, 4.0 WAR
THE BAT: 556 PA, 26 HR, 73 RBI, 76 R, 13 SB, .239/.311/.455, 118 wRC+, 3.2 WAR
2022 stats: 592 PA, 27 HR, 74 RBI, 79 R, 16 SB, .235/.302/.443, 132 wRC+, 3.5 WAR
Note: ZiPS DC projections are pro-rated for the playing time indicated by Roster Resource Depth Charts on FanGraphs.
Varsho arrives in Toronto as part of the offseason outfield remodel, which apparently included both the Rogers Centre walls and the fielders playing in front of them.
Blue Jays fans recently got their first look at the club's new acquisition in his early Spring Training workouts, and they have every reason to be excited about his addition to the team.
The 26-year-old played almost a full season of 151 games in 2022, but the projections peg him for 133 to 139 games this year.
FanGraphs currently predicts that Varsho will bat fifth. But as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports, there is chatter that the Jays will experiment with different lineups this spring to maximize their new left-handed hitters.
ZiPS is the highest on Varsho's 2023 campaign, giving him a solid All-Star-level season, with 32 home runs, 88 runs scored, and 98 batted in. He's even getting a bump in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging (.503!).
The new Rogers Centre dimensions should help Varsho this season, so more than 30 long balls is well within the realm of possibility.
Steamer and THE BAT are slightly lower on Varsho's offense. They predict a similar line to last year but in fewer plate appearances. Both models put him at 26 homers, with RBI and runs scored in the 70s. Despite the predicted lower offensive output, they think he'll still be an above-replacement level player with a WAR over three.
The other element Varsho brings to the Jays is his outstanding defense.
While he was drafted and has experience as a catcher, logging 175 of his 1,095 innings behind the plate in 2022, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reported that Varsho expressed a desire to only play outfield last season.
That's good news, as he is slated to play left field, and ideally, the Jays won't need him to suit up for catching duty at all.
Varsho was arguably the best defensive outfielder in the majors last season. Whether you look at DRS (Total Defensive Runs Saved), RngR (Range Runs), UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating), or OAA (Outs Above Average), the Jays' new left fielder dominated the advanced defensive metrics in 2022.
MLB OF Rank
Needless to say, Varsho is a stellar addition to the Jays' much-improved outfield, and fans and pitchers alike will enjoy watching him play in left this season.
With the combination of his glove and bat, now part of the Jays' already potent lineup, he shouldn't take too long to become a fan-favorite in Toronto.