2013 American League Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

Jason Miller

Let's Go Tribe's look at the Indians' competition around the American League continues with the Toronto Blue Jays, who had the busiest off-season of any team in the A.L.

Toronto Blue Jays

2012 Record: 73-89 (4th in A.L. East), 4-2 vs. Cleveland

716 runs scored (7th of 14 in A.L.), 784 runs allowed (11th of 14 in A.L.)

Toronto's 2012 season was witness to a number of key injuries, including the loss of the team's best player, Jose Bautista, for more than two months. Almost every member of the starting rotation landed on the DL at some point during the year. Ricky Romero made more starts than any other pitcher for the Blue Jays, and he was one of the very worst pitchers in the American League. They won 51 of their first 100 games, but went just 22-40 the rest of the way and finished 22 games out of first place. On the bright side, Brandon Morrow was tremendous over his 21 starts and Edwin Encarnacion turned in a career year, with some of the best offensive numbers in baseball.

Toronto was most decidedly NOT willing to stand pat during the off-season, instead they underwent one of the more dramatic overhauls in recent baseball history, far beyond even the moves the Indians have made in an effort to "go for it" in 2013. First there was a mammoth trade with the Marlins and later Toronto acquired the reigning N.L. Cy Young winner from the Mets. Blue Jays fans may need a few weeks to learn all the new players on their roster. On the other hand, they can throw away any prospect lists they had four months ago, because the familiar names on it are almost all gone.

Key off-season additions:

Emilio Bonifacio (2B/3B/SS), Mark Buehrle (SP), Melky Cabrera (OF), Mark DeRosa (UTL), R.A. Dickey (SP), Maicer Izturis (IF), Josh Johnson (SP), Jose Reyes (SS), Esmil Rogers (RP), Josh Thole (C)

Key off-season departures:

Henderson Alvarez (SP), John Buck (C), Travis D'Arnaud (C), Jason Frasor (RP), Adeiny Hechavarria (3B), Kelly Johnson (2B), Jake Marisnick (OF), Jeff Mathis (C), Noah Syndergaard (SP), Carlos Villanueva (SP)

2013 Payroll: ~$114 million

Projected 2013 Starting Lineup (with ZiPS WAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

C

J.P. Arencibia

3

1B

Edwin Encarnacion

3

2B

Emilio Bonifacio

1

3B

Brett Lawrie

4

SS

Jose Reyes

4

LF

Melky Cabrera

3

CF

Colby Rasmus

2

RF

Jose Bautista

5

DH

Adam Lind

1

TOTAL

26

Indian Killer:

Jose Bautista - 131 PA, .299/.415/.598, 1.014 OPS, 8 HR, 18 R, 23 RBI

Player vs. team matchups almost always involve too small a sample size to read anything much into, and Bautista has killed most teams he's faced over the last couple years, but his numbers against the Tribe have been especially good.

Projected 2013 Starting Rotation/Bullpen (with ZiPS WAR projection):

Pos

Player

Projected WAR

1

R.A. Dickey

4

2

Josh Johnson

3

3

Mark Buehrle

3

4

Brandon Morrow

3

5

Ricky Romero

3

RP

Bullpen

3

TOTAL

19

The Blue Jays have been installed as the betting favorites at some sportsbooks, while other projections are less bullish. They've certainly improved their big league club (for the near future anyway) and in an A.L. East that seems more and more wide open by the day, they ought to have about as good a shot as anyone. They'll be heavily dependent on starting pitchers making a move into the American League, and adjustment that does not always go well. Win an A.L. East title or two and it won't much matter what kind of players the prospects they traded away develop into, but if this roster isn't good enough to make the playoffs, Toronto may come to regret their off-season splurge.

PECOTA Projection: 84-78 (4th in East), 785 runs scored, 753 runs allowed

Cairo Projection: 90-72 (1st in East), 810 runs scored, 727 runs allowed

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