The 2016 Blue Jays According to Steamer
Steamer projections came out on Fangraphs a few days ago, and they are very kind to the 2016 Blue Jays. Here is how the team looks right now according to Steamer600, position by position, while including some 2016 free agents who could re-sign in Toronto.
Remember, Steamer600 scales the projection to 600 PA for all position players excluding catchers, who are scaled to 450 PA. Pitchers are scaled to either 200 or 65 IP, depending on if they are starters or relievers. So the WAR figures here are directly comparable.
Martin: 3.3 WAR, 105 wRC+ [MLB C rank: 3rd… 2nd if you don’t think Schwarber is a catcher]
Navarro: 1.3 WAR, 95 wRC+
Thole: 0.1 WAR, 70 wRC+
Ochinko, Chung, Jimenez: 0.5-0.8 WAR
Martin projects for a small offensive drop off, but his value stays steady. He was worth 3.5 fWAR in 2015 in 507 PA. Navarro proved to be a more than capable backup this year, mostly for his partnership with Marco Estrada, and he projects to be a decent backup in 2016. He’ll likely look for a starting gig on the open market though, and if he lands a job outside of Toronto then the Blue Jays best look past Josh Thole for the backup job, if Steamer is to be trusted. There are three org guys in the Jays’ system that might be more capable backups than Thole.
First Base / DH
EE: 2.9 WAR, 135 wRC+ [MLB 1B rank: T8 with Chris Davis]
Colabello: 1.2 WAR, 107 wRC+
Smoak: 0.6 WAR, 98 wRC+
Hague: 1.6 WAR, 105 wRC+
Edwin is still projected to mash in his age 33 season, but some slight decline should reasonably be expected. Colabello is currently hitting 5th for the offensive juggernaut Blue Jays in the playoffs, but Steamer isn’t buying his 2015 BABIP. The machine thinks Cola should BABIP closer to .320, and be a below average regular. In fact, Steamer likes International League MVP Matt Hague more than Colabello, or the defensive specialist 1B Justin Smoak, who doesn’t project favourably.
Donaldson: 5.4 WAR, 131 wRC+ [MLB 3B rank: 1st]
Donaldson is projected to be great by Steamer. Yes, it’s nothing close to his 8.7 WAR from 2015, but projection systems squish everyone to the middle and Donaldson is Steamer’s projected 3rd most valuable player, tied with Stanton and behind only Harper and Trout. He should be awesome. There’s little reason to display information on any other 3B option currently with Toronto.
Travis: 2.5 WAR, 101 wRC+ [MLB 2B rank: T11 with Odor and Refsnyder]
Goins: 0.5 WAR, 70 wRC+
Barney: 0.5 WAR, 66 wRC+
Pennington: 0.7 WAR, 76 wRC+
Kawasaki: (0.6 WAR), 64 wRC+
At the keystone position, a lot will be riding on the health of Devon Travis in 2016. According to Steamer, nobody else in the organization is particularly good at second base, even though many fans will disagree with the machine’s take on Ryan Goins, who contributed 1.5 WAR in 2015. Goins has been a horrendous hitter his entire professional career though, and those numbers are affecting the projection, perhaps rightly so. Regardless of the projections, Goins will very likely have the backup infielder job in 2016, and he mind even draw into a bit of a platoon with Travis, even if that’s not a great idea on paper.
Tulo: 3.5 WAR, 110 wRC+ [MLB SS rank: 2nd, behind Correa]
Pennington: (see above)
Goins: (see above)
Jorge Flores: 0.4 WAR, 68 wRC+
Tulowitzki projects strongly by Steamer, albeit not at the superstar level we’re accustomed to seeing him play at. He of the career 123 wRC+ will try to prove that offensive projection pessimistic, after posting league average offensive production (100 wRC+) in 2015. Like at second base, a lot at this position is riding on the health of Tulo, unless the projection is wrong about Goins. Jorge Flores is a guy that I’d love to see get some big league chances – the dude is listed at 5’5″, but there have been some decent scouting reports on his defense and he’s displayed an OK hit tool in the minors (he hit .276/.360 last year in AA as a league-appropriate 23 year old). #HDMH?
Bautista: 3.8 WAR, 137 wRC+ [MLB OF rank: 8th]
Pillar: 2.8 WAR, 97 wRC+ [MLB CF rank: T10 with Adam Jones]
Pompey: 1.8 WAR, 93 wRC+
Saunders: 1.6 WAR, 99 wRC+
Revere: 0.9 WAR, 88 wRC+
Dwight Smith Jr.: 0.4 WAR, 81 wRC+
Carrera: below replacement level
The Blue Jays’ outfield projects very well. Bautista should mash for another year and Steamer likes Kevin Pillar (so do we!). Pompey and Saunders both project to be almost league average outfielders, giving the Blue Jays a solid four man deep outfield, with two players that can play a good CF, a lefty, and a switch hitter. That’s a nice OF mix! Steamer doesn’t really like Ben Revere, which lines up well with what I think Toronto should do this offseason. I think they should flip the hired gun for a SP, if they can. I don’t love his skill set in the Rogers Centre on the slow turf, and after making $4.1M in 2015 he should get something like $7M in arbitration this winter. That’s a solid chunk of money for a guy that only projects for 0.9 WAR, according to Steamer. Best to move that increasingly expensive player for a position of need. And for the record, I have more faith in Pompey’s talent coming through in 2016 than Saunders’ health.
Price: 4.7 WAR, 3.17 FIP [MLB SP Rank: 9th]
Stroman: 3.3 WAR, 3.70 FIP [MLB SP Rank: 38th]
Hutchison: 4.28 FIP (projected as a reliever right now)
Buehrle: 1.6 WAR, 4.59 FIP (1.9 RA9-WAR)
Dickey: 1.4 WAR, 4.72 FIP (2.1 RA9-WAR)
Estrada: 1.0 WAR, 4.93 FIP (1.8 RA9-WAR)
Taylor Cole: 0.8 WAR, 4.85 FIP
Connor Greene: 0.7 WAR, 4.92 FIP
Casey Lawrence: 0.5 WAR, 5.02 FIP
The Blue Jays rotation would be in shambles if the season was just around the corner. Luckily it’s not, and this area should get a lot of attention in the offseason. Of note – Buehrle, Dickey, and Estrada should all reasonably be expected to beat their FIP projections due to their unique skill sets, so their talent is better reflected in RA9-WAR which I’ve shown above. Also of note – Hutch is currently projected as a reliever, but you can assume that his FIP and WAR as a SP would be similar to the figures beside Buehrle’s name up there.
With Price and Estrada possibly walking and Buehrle probably retiring, Toronto will almost certainly pick up Dickey’s option and sign or trade for a couple of decent starters. The team could also convert Osuna to the rotation, an intriguing option given his repertoire and age, or give Sanchez another chance to start (hopefully not though!). Nobody else in the organization looks like a viable MLB starter for 2016, although the three other names listed above could chew some innings without sucking and Toronto has been very aggressive with MiLB pitching recently so it’s not out of the question that someone like Shane Dawson or Sean Reid-Foley, who both topped out in Dunedin this year, could be summoned very quickly up the organization if they find early success in 2016.
Cecil – 3.01 FIP
Hendriks – 3.14 FIP
Osuna – 3.44 FIP
Loup – 3.50 FIP
Lowe – 3.58 FIP
Francis – 3.66 FIP
Hawkins – 3.90 FIP
Sanchez – 3.93 FIP
Tepera – 4.10 FIP
Delabar – 4.16 FIP
Schultz – 4.20 FIP
Wil Browning – 4.02 FIP
Chad Girodo – 4.06 FIP
Scott Gracey – 4.04 FIP
John Stilson – 4.08 FIP
Colt Hynes – 4.23 FIP
The bullpen should be fine in 2016. Cecil and Hendriks project to be near relief Aces from the left and right sides, and Loup, Osuna, and Sanchez should all be at least capable relievers (even though one of Osuna and Sanchez probably is given a chance to start). Sanchez’ numbers should actually be better than Steamer thinks as a pure reliever – his projections would be sandbagged by his terrible SP numbers and he really does look like a different type of player in the bullpen. There is decent depth behind those first 4/5 names, including several righties with major league experience, Jeff Francis with a surprisingly good FIP projection, and some interesting sleepers. Chad Girodo in particular jumps out at me – a reasonably young RP prospect with a LOOGY profile and demonstrated strike throwing ability. Toronto could look to add a high end RP to replace the departing Mark Lowe, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If nobody emerges in the first half, just buy another guy or two at the deadline.
And there you have it – the 2016 Toronto Blue Jays, according to Steamer (and me).