What is the best possible lineup for the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays?
8. Whit Merrifield – 2B
Admittedly, it’s hard to leave Santiago Espinal out of the lineup; he’s a great defender, a great team guy, and was an All-Star last year.
But stick with me here. Whit Merrifield is a two-time All-Star, two-time MLB hits leader, three-time AL stolen base champ, and one-time leader in both doubles and triples. And it’s not as if this was in the distant past – as recently as 2021, he was third in the AL in hits (behind only Vladdy and Bichette), and led the league with 42 doubles and 40 steals.
Yes, his stats were down last year. But it appeared that he simply ran out of steam after playing so many years on a terrible Kansas City team. Traded to a contender in Toronto, he was one of the team’s best hitters down the stretch, batting well over .300 with an OPS approaching 1.000 in September and October.
With a full-season return to form, the Jays could have one of the AL’s better hitters in the 8-hole.
9. Kevin Kiermaier – CF
Kevin Kiermaier is not on the Jays for his bat, but for his defense (and, probably, his breathtaking good looks).
Yes, Kiermaier is not only a legendary pretty boy, but something of a legendary defender in center field, a three-time Gold Glover and Platinum Glove winner, who would likely have more if not for numerous injuries. When healthy, Kiermaier is basically the Matt Chapman of center field.
Ok, so he doesn’t hit much – a .248 career average, .715 OPS, and 82 homers in 914 games – but actually, he’s not a complete black hole with the bat. Four times he has stolen more than 15 bags in a season, and he has 51 career triples, including 7 in 2021. That same year, he had 15 infield hits.
Come to think of it, he’s kind of the perfect No. 9 hitter – a little speed and calamity at the bottom of the order.
What do you think is the best possible lineup for the 2023 Toronto Blue Jays? Where do you agree with me, and where do I have it wrong?
Let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter – @WriteFieldDeep.