Fantasy Baseball 2013: Toronto Blue Jays Season Preview
The Toronto Blue Jays were busy this winter in an effort to restore the pride to an organization in the midst of a 20-year playoff drought. The Toronto front office used trades and free agency to transform a 73-win roster into a World Series favorite. One year removed from a fourth place finish, it is now difficult to find a hole in this new-look Toronto ball club. Their lineup and pitching staff feature many of the top fantasy baseball players in the MLB.
Toronto was active in the trade market, benefiting from the rebuilding of weaker teams around the league. While teams were looking to the future, Toronto focused its sights squarely on the present. The additions of Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and R.A. Dickey through trade, as well as Melky Cabrera through free agency have resulted in very high expectations.
Reyes showed off his flashy skill set, acting as the spark to the Dominican Republic in their victorious World Baseball Classic campaign. No player can put on a show quite like a healthy Jose Reyes. He has compiled seven seasons with 10+ triples and five seasons with 40+ steals to go along with a batting title that he earned for hitting .337 in 2012. Atop the best lineup he’s seen in his 10-year career, Reyes is poised to lead the league in runs.
Jose Bautista suffered through injuries that claimed the the entire second-half of his season. A healthy “Joey Bats” is a threat to hit 40 home runs and add to a crowded trophy case. He may approach his career-high in RBIs with all of this talent around him.
The void created by Bautista’s absence was effectively filled by Edwin Encarnacion and his breakout 42 home run season. For a power hitter of Encarnacion’s caliber, he rarely strikes out. He had the fewest strike outs of any hitter with at least 40 homers in 2012.
Brett Lawrie was the breakout candidate that everybody expected from Toronto last season but the 23-year-old Canadian third baseman failed to live up to the hype. The bar may have been set too high for a young player in his first full season but the expectations were only a result of his tremendous talent. With the spotlight off of him and the focus on the big bats around him, 2013 could be the year that Lawrie’s career takes off.
After ranking 26th in team ERA, Toronto completely revamped their rotation. With the acquisition of reigning NL Cy Young, R.A. Dickey, the Blue Jays gained a leader and an ace. Dickey’s knuckleball is untouchable more often than not as indicated by his 20-6 record and 2.73 ERA. Recreating that success is a tall order but most American League hitters will be seeing his knuckleball for the first time and there is a steep learning curve.
One of the most dominant and unappreciated pitchers last season was Brandon Morrow. Although his strikeouts came at a slower rate than usual, he posted a 2.96 ERA. Morrow is an underrated fantasy pitcher entering 2013 as his win total could double in addition to his stellar ERA.
Toronto’s top five fantasy hitters: 1. Jose Bautista, 2. Jose Reyes, 3. Brett Lawrie, 4. Edwin Encarnacion, 5. Melky Cabrera
Toronto’s top three fantasy pitchers: 1. R.A. Dickey, 2. Brandon Morrow, 3. Josh Johnson
Toronto projected record: 90-72
Stay tuned over the next month while I preview one team each day in preparation for the 2013 baseball season.