Publish date:

2 BLUEJAYS

Author:

OVERALL RANK 6

ENEMY LINES

A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP TORONTO

This is a solid lineup with dangerous power, but, boy, are they going to miss Edwin Encarnación. They'll be competitive, but not as strong as they were in 2015 and '16.... Josh Donaldson understands his swing and how to generate power from his lower half....José Bautista just had a down year. He had become much more of a mistake hitter. I expect him to bounce back.... There's something left for Troy Tulowitzki, but it's time to s--- or get off the pot. Last year he looked to me as if he'd become pull crazy and was not trusting his hands.... Devon Travis hits the ball hard and has a chance to hit over .300.... Russell Martin has all the intangibles that are important to a young pitching staff. Even if he doesn't hit, he's worth every penny he gets.... Kevin Pillar is off the charts defensively. He's as good as Kevin Kiermaier or anybody else. If the bat caught up to the defense, he'd be Mike Trout.... Orioles closer Zach Britton's sinker is in another universe, but Aaron Sanchez's is right behind his. It's powerful and has late action in the zone.... Marcus Stroman, I love his confidence and his stuff.... J.A. Happ is deceptive, with average to slightly above average stuff. He's an awful good No. 3 starter.... Marco Estrada has a 75 grade changeup. There's a lot of deception, a lot of swing and miss.... Francisco Liriano is getting his slider over. If he does that, he's got enough fastball to keep guys honest.... Roberto Osuna has power and a power breaking ball. He throws strikes with two well-above-average pitches.

MANAGER JOHN GIBBONS

5TH SEASON WITH TORONTO

B-T BA OBP SLG WAR

2B DEVON TRAVIS [INJURY RISK]

R-R .300 .332 .454 2.9

3B JOSH DONALDSON [TEAM MVP] [DEFENSIVE STAR]

R-R .284 .404 .549 7.4

RF JOSÉ BAUTISTA [INJURY RISK] [DECLINING]

R-R .234 .366 .452 1.0

DH KENDRYS MORALES [NEW ACQUISITION] [DECLINING]

S-R .263 .327 .468 0.9

SS TROY TULOWITZKI [INJURY RISK] [DECLINING]

R-R .254 .318 .443 3.3

C RUSSELL MARTIN [DEFENSIVE STAR] [BARGAIN] [DECLINING]

R-R .231 .335 .398 1.7

1B JUSTIN SMOAK [DECLINING]

S-L .217 .314 .391 -0.4

LF EZEQUIEL CARRERA

L-L .248 .323 .356 0.7

CF KEVIN PILLAR [DEFENSIVE STAR] [BARGAIN]

R-R .266 .303 .376 3.4

BENCH

B-T BA OBP SLG WAR

IF STEVE PEARCE [NEW ACQUISITION]

R-R .288 .374 .492 2.3

OF MELVIN UPTON JR. [DECLINING]

R-R .238 .291 .402 1.4

W--L ERA K/9 WAR

RH MARCO ESTRADA [BARGAIN]

9--9 3.48 8.4 3.4

RH AARON SANCHEZ [BARGAIN]

15--2 3.00 7.5 4.8

LH J.A. HAPP [BARGAIN]

20--4 3.18 7.5 4.4

RH MARCUS STROMAN [BARGAIN]

9--10 4.37 7.3 1.4

LH FRANCISCO LIRIANO [DECLINING]

8--13 4.69 9.3 0.3

SV ERA K/9 WAR

RH ROBERTO OSUNA [RISING]

36 2.68 10.0 2.0

RH JASON GRILLI [INJURY RISK] [DECLINING]

4w 4.12 12.4 0.4

NEW ACQUISITION

2016 STATS

(R) ROOKIE

TEAM MVP

DEFENSIVE STAR

INJURY RISK

BARGAIN

RISING

DECLINING

MODEST PROPOSAL

One of the odder transactions from 2016 was the Jays' decision to give Justin Smoak a two-year, $8.5 million contract extension. He's a .220 hitter without enough walks, power, speed or defensive skill at first base to make up for that average, and at 30, there's no development left. Toronto has a logjam of players—Smoak, Kendrys Morales, José Bautista, Steve Pearce—without much to contribute defensively. The Jays should release Smoak to free up playing time at DH and first. This would also allow the 36-year-old Bautista to spend less time in rightfield, giving better defenders a shot there.

BOTTOM LINE

Still a force, but without Encarnación they'll have trouble passing the Red Sox.