What is the best possible lineup for the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays?

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5. Daulton Varsho – LF

There’s little doubt that Daulton Varsho is a major breakout candidate in 2023.

With defenses no longer able to shift him, he seems certain to better his .235 average – Varsho pulled the ball more than any qualified hitter in baseball last year.

With bigger bases and restricted pickoff attempts, he seems likely to exceed his 16 steals.

And in coming from Arizona to Toronto, the 27 homers he hit seem sure to be surpassed. Think about it: Chase Field in Arizona is 407 feet to straightaway center, with an almost ridiculous 25-foot wall; in Toronto, it’s 400 feet with an 8-foot wall. To right center, Varsho’s power alley, Arizona is 376 feet, while Rogers Centre’s new dimensions have moved the wall in from 375 feet to a Yankee Stadium-like 359.

All told, it doesn’t seem ridiculous to suggest Varsho could go 30/30.

6. Alejandro Kirk – C

Yes, in my best possible Blue Jays lineup, Alejandro Kirk is catching. Nothing against Danny Jansen, but Kirk is better than you think behind the dish, maybe even … elite?

Consider, according to Baseball Savant, Kirk’s strike rate – the percentage of non-swings on the edges of the strike zone converted into called strikes – was fourth in the majors in 2022. Simply, Kirk is one of the best pitch framers in the game. Danny Jansen, for comparison, was 37th.

Moreover, Kirk’s Pop Time – the time it takes him to get the ball down to second base – was actually better than Gold Glove winner Jose Trevino, while, according to Baseball Prospectus, he was among the best at blocking pitches.

So yes, Kirk is catching.

With that out of the way, why sixth in the batting order? Because that’s just how stacked the lineup is this year, that an All-Star on an upward trajectory who hit third or fourth most of last year can’t even crack the top five.

7. Danny Jansen – DH

Some might like the left-handed-hitting Brandon Belt at DH, in pursuit of the mythical ‘lineup balance’ we hear so much about. Yet, note that the Jays were actually better against right handers than left handers last year – in fact, they led the AL in batting average, OBP, and OPS against righties. They shouldn’t feel desperate to squeeze another lefty into the starting lineup, particularly now that they’ve added Varsho.

But it’s more than that.

The beauty of this best possible lineup is that we are assuming everyone is healthy. Is Danny Jansen going to play every day? No. Is he going to get injured at some point? Probably. But consider this: over the past three years, Danny has accumulated 519 at bats, slightly less than a full year for an everyday player. In those 519 at bats, he’s hit 32 homers with 92 RBI.

That sounds like a pretty monumental No. 7 hitter.