Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Uncustomed Heroes of 2019: Blue Jays

Weird year for Toronto.

The last of the old guard was phased out, with Devon Travis, Justin Smoak, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and Kevin Pillar all leaving during, and after, this year. And immediately the new guard was funneled right in, with the big three rookies, Guerrero, Biggio and Bichette, coming right in to replace them as if nothing had happened. A lot of this team was made up of people who were brought in on contracts and traded halfway through the year, like Freddy Galvis and Eric Sogard. But, for a middling-to-low team, the jays were pretty entertaining, and the youth has a lot to do with that.

Cavan Biggio was arguably the strongest of the 3 rookies, ending the year with a 2.8 WAR and 48 RBIs.
Why Him in 2019?: Cause he might be the most versatile of him, Vlad and Bo.
2020 Prediction: He's gonna shoot up to a leadership spot by the end of the year, possibly usurping Grichuk. Also, of the big 3, he's got the best shot at an ASG spot.

In the absence of Kevin Pillar, any leadership position went to Randal Grichuk, despite him only being on the team since 2018. Grichuk did...the same as he always did. Hit for distance not for average, struggled defensively, and struck out a lot.
Why Him in 2019?: In the year of Sogard, Guerrero, Biggio and Bichette, it was Grichuk that led the team in home runs AND RBI.
2020 Prediction: Either he has a big season next year or the Jays trade him at the end of 2020.

 Another outfielder who struggled in a full-time position was Teoscar Hernandez. He had stretches of greatness, and he came to life in July, with 15 RBIs and 8 home runs, but mostly he was batting below .250
Why Him in 2019?: Led all non-Grichuk players in home runs, and finally got a starting gig after a year or so of waiting.
2020 Prediction: Hernandez will break out in a big way in May and April, and his stock will rise slightly before an injury saves him from being traded.

 The big lineup story for the Jays was the fight for starting catcher. Luke Maile had the position early, but lost it once Danny Jansen came onboard. Jansen had the position for most of the season, and his defensive numbers made him a shoo-in, though his lack of offensive production came back to bite him later.
Why Him in 2019?: Replaces Martin as catcher, gives an upgrade on defense.
2020 Prediction: Opening Day starter, backup by June.

 But once Reese McGuire's bat caught fire, there wasn't much use for Jansen. McGuire is a superior hitter, and even if he's not as good defensively as Jansen, he might be a little more well-rounded, and more befitting of the youth movement.
Why Him in 2019?: His late audition for 2020 starting catcher might have won everyone over.
2020 Prediction: Starts majority of games for Toronto, hits 30 home runs.

 Elvis Luciano was a great story for the year, a farmhand traded for Jon Jay and a Rule 5 draftee that was added to the roster to protect from a similar Rule 5 loss. At 19, Luciano became the first MLB player born in the 2000s to debut, which was kinda...scary for a 90s kid like me. Luciano's relief numbers weren't great, with a 5.35 ERA in 25 appearances, but his youthful presence in April set the tone for the rest of the year.
Why Him in 2019?: A rare 19-year-old call-up in a field of 24-year-old rookies.
2020 Prediction: Toronto's next bullpen ace. If Giles blows his shot, he could be closing games.

And if we're talking about rookies fielded in trades, we should probably mention Anthony Kay, the hurler fielded in the Stroman trade, who debuted in September and made a few starts. getting a win and 13 strikeouts.
Why Him in 2019?: He got Marcus Stroman out of Toronto.
2020 Prediction: He'll give Trent Thornton some company at the top of the rotation.

Coming Tomorrow- The Braves lost out on an NLCS match again this year, but they definitely deserved more in this particular postseason.

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