According to the Steamer projections, the Blue Jays should have two of the top rookies according to WAR including Danny Jansen and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
While it would be fun to talk about which of the mega-star free agents the Blue Jays should be pursuing, there’s a much better chance they make some more modest signings in the interest of “letting the kids play” in 2019.
In particular, the Blue Jays’ infield should look a little younger next season, and will probably get more youthful as the season wears on. To begin with, Danny Jansen is expected to take a good chunk of the starts from soon to be 36 year old Russell Martin behind the plate, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will be the everyday third baseman, whether it’s on Opening Day or after a few weeks into the season.
Those two in particular might be just 23 and 19 years old right now, but that doesn’t really effect how the projections systems see them performing in their rookie campaigns.
Not surprisingly, Vlad Jr. leads the Steamer projections list according to Rookie WAR, and he also leads the Blue Jays offence by a wide margin. Steamer has him set for an ambitious number of 4.7 WAR, and actually projects him to be a top 10 hitter in the American League. Those are some ridiculously high expectations for a rookie, but if anyone could meet them it’s probably Vlad.
You might guess that the next Blue Jay on the team list would be someone like Justin Smoak, Randal Grichuk, or maybe Kevin Pillar. However, Danny Jansen comes in at 2.2 on their projections, slightly edging out other veterans on the team in the category. Again, these are just educated guesses, but it’s encouraging to see how the young crop of Blue Jays are being viewed across baseball. For the time being the Jays are still ranked as the #3 minor league system in baseball as well, and obviously Jansen and Guerrero are a big part of that.
Sandwiched between the two Blue Jays is Eloy Jimenez of the Chicago White Sox, who similarly dominated in the minors this season, and like Vlad, did not received a September call up. As for the other Blue Jays youngsters, the projections system wasn’t quite ready to assume they’ll make an impact at the big league level this year. For example, Rowdy Tellez is projected to play in just 20 games, while Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are tagged for just one each. Obviously a lot can change as the season wears on, and I expect we’ll see just that in Toronto as the rebuild continues.
For now though, it’s nice to see the optimism around the young Blue Jay hitters. I guess that’s not so difficult with a combined forecast of 6.9 WAR from two rookies. It’s gonna be fun to watch.