A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE BLUE JAYS
On paper this is the best Blue Jays team since they won the World Series in 1993.... It has the best staff in the AL East. Josh Johnson is their No. 4 starter, and when he's going right, he's a No. 1.... R.A. Dickey's Cy Young season wasn't a fluke. He's mastered that hard knuckleball, and it's scary to think how good he'll be pitching indoors. Knuckleballers love a dome.... Brandon Morrow is a front-of-the-line pitcher, and his velocity is back after his injury last year.... The big question mark is the bullpen. Casey Janssen finished the year strong as the closer, but that was when they were out of the money. I think they'll add a piece or two to the bullpen.... Everyone was surprised by Edwin Encarnacion's 40-homer season, but he hit 26 with the Reds in '08. He cut down on his strikeouts and he's more selective—between him and Jose Bautista, they've got a serious middle of the order. Can Bautista get back to 40 home runs? I think so.... I really liked the Melky Cabrera signing. He was always an underappreciated player. He won't hit .346 again, but they don't need him to.... Brett Lawrie is going to have a big year. Pitchers pounded him with breaking balls away, making him expand the zone and using his aggressiveness against him. He'll adjust.... Colby Rasmus has always been one of the most frustrating players around. What we see now is what we're going to get—a .230 hitter, 15 to 20 home runs, lots of strikeouts and balls dropping in center that should be caught.
2013 Projected Statistics
MANAGER JOHN GIBBONS
First season with the Blue Jays
LINEUPS AND STAT PROJECTIONS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
The K Meter
Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank
BY HITTERS | 20.5% | 19TH
BY PITCHERS | 18.4% | 26TH
Adding a former Cy winner (Dickey), ERA champ (Johnson) and batting champ (Reyes) pays off: The Jays win 95 and the East.
Reyes's legs, Bautista's wrist, Johnson's shoulder and Morrow's oblique break down—as do the postseason plans.
Ben Reiter has more on the Blue Jays at SI.com/mlb
Statheads praised Toronto's rehire of manager John Gibbons—he held the job from 2004 to '08—in part because he was good about not wasting outs during his previous tenure. In his three full seasons (2005--07), the Blue Jays were 11th in the AL in steals, 11th in stolen base attempts and 12th in sacrifice bunts. With this team, though, Gibbons should take a page from his predecessor's book. John Farrell, now managing Boston, liked to run: The Jays were fourth in the AL in steals and attempts in his two seasons as manager. Gibbons inherits Rajai Davis (223 career steals, 78% success rate) and off-season imports Jose Reyes (410, 80%), Emilio Bonifacio (110, 80%) and Maicer Izturis (91, 76%). The high efficiency of these speedsters allows Gibbons to turn them loose—they should add bases (and runs) without costing many outs. Despite the stereotype, sabermetricians don't hate the stolen base; they hate inefficiency. In this case, Gibbons has the players to use the running game to his advantage.
CHUCK SOLOMON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (DICKEY)
DERICK E. HINGLE/USA TODAY SPORTS (REYES)