What is the best possible lineup for the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays?
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – 1B
Modern thinking says you want your best hitters higher in the order, so this fits the bill there. Funny though, so diverse are Vladdy’s talents, he actually has a lot of the characteristics of a traditional No. 2 hitter.
He handles the bat well and puts the ball in play – his strikeout percentage of 16.5% in 2022 was lower than AL East contemporaries like Judge, Devers, Arozarena, and Rutschman, not to mention other AL goliaths like Trout, Ohtani, Correa, Yordan Alvarez, Julio Rodríguez … I could go on …
On top of that, he sees a lot of pitches (fourth on the team in 2022), and gets on base (career .358 OBP), while one look at his spray chart will tell you he’s capable of hitting the ball to all fields.
It’s true, Vladdy is the No. 2 hitter for both modern thinkers and traditionalists alike.
3. Matt Chapman – 3B
A few days ago, I caught a shot of Red Sox perennial prospect Jarren Duran arriving at spring training, bulging muscles barely contained by his t-shirt, his transformation from string bean to Incredible Hulk complete. Maybe it was the angle of the shot, but still, it got me thinking: why can’t the Jays ever have a guy who adds 25 pounds of muscle in an offseason?
Enter Matt Chapman.
Seriously, just look at it him! One glance was all I needed to become a believer in ‘Contract Year Chappy.’
If you’re thinking third in the order is a bit of a reach, remember, Chapman hit in the top three for back-to-back 97-win teams in 2018 and 2019, so he knows what he’s doing up there. Plus, if the oft-repeated line that you want your best hitter behind Vladdy to protect him is true, well, Contract Year Chappy might just be that guy.
4. Bo Bichette – SS
In John Schneider’s second game as Blue Jays manager, he moved Bichette into the cleanup spot, famously proclaiming, “the more we can get Bo up with guys on base, the better off we are.”
I’m a Bo-liever.
Simply, he just has that run producing stroke, the ability to fight off tough pitches until he gets one he likes, and power from foul line to foul line. Slotting him in behind what are likely to be the three highest OBP guys (not named Alejandro Kirk) on the team seems like a simple recipe for run production.
For me though, having Bichette hit cleanup is about more than that. For a position in the order which has traditionally been manned by intimidating figures with nicknames like “The Iron Horse” and “Killer,” Bichette's long hair, jewelry, and copious hugs make him the perfect cleanup hitter for the modern age.