The Toronto Blue Jays will enter the 2024 season with plenty of expectations, both as a team and as individual contributors. With pitchers and catchers set to report in just three weeks, it’s time to consider players who could be in the running for hardware by the time November rolls around.
Bo Bichette – MVP
At some point over the past two seasons, this has become Bichette's team, and it’s about time he got more recognition on the national level. He’s been the Jays player with the most votes earned over the past two years, finishing 11th in voting in 2022 and 16th last year.
There’s no doubt that Bichette would’ve received more consideration had he not suffered right patellar tendinitis while running the bases in late July. That unfortunate turn of events caused the young star to miss three weeks, and he was shelved for another ten days with a quad strain suffered just eight days after the initial injury.
Over the last two months, Bichette hit just .254 three home runs in 29 games, a far cry from his usual production. In 2022, entering September, Bo was hitting .260 but ended the year on a blistering .406 clip with seven homers in the last 32 games to garner some MVP consideration. An entire season of good health will present the talented 25-year-old with plenty of chances to build up his credentials.
Kevin Gausman – Cy Young
Gausman has been in the top 10 in voting in the last three seasons and was a finalist in 2023. He’s eclipsed the 200-strikeout mark in each of those seasons, so his place as a legitimate ace is secure, which is a factor in voting.
The 33-year-old would benefit from a reduced BABIP, which has been considerably higher than the average over the past two years. Gausman has been among the leaders in chase rate and strikeout percentage since his rise to prominence. This could be the year if he can avoid some of the concerning hard-hit numbers that have plagued him in the past.
Kevin Kiermaier, Daulton Varsho, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Berrios – Gold Glove
The Blue Jays have continued to prioritize run prevention this offseason, first with the retention of Kiermaier, then with the acquisition of Kiner-Falefa. Kiermaier recently captured his fourth Gold Glove Award, and Kiner-Falefa won it in the truncated 2020 season, a year he spent primarily as a third baseman.
IKF is expected to receive the brunt of his playing time at the hot corner this season, and he may not be a favorite for the Gold Glove, but seeing him get nominated is a definite possibility. Varsho has led all outfielders in defensive runs saved over the last two years and somehow hasn’t been recognized for that with any hardware.
If he puts together another season like 2023, there will be no more denying Varsho. After twice being a finalist, Jose Berrios took home his first career Gold Glove Award in 2023. He’ll be in the running to repeat this season.