Analyzing Toronto Blue Jays’ 2014 Opening Day Lineup

By Thom Tsang

Analyzing the Toronto Blue Jays’ Opening Day Lineup

Gibbons Kim Klement
Kim Klement-USA Today Sports

Not a lot has gone right for the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason going into the 2014 campaign, but despite GM Alex Anthopoulos' inability to address the team's biggest holes, one thing that has been overlooked is the fact that this is an offensively potent lineup that ranked ninth in MLB in runs scored and fourth in HRs last season. So while it might get messy on the mound, bluebirds fans can at least take solace in the fireworks they'll see.

1. Jose Reyes

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
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1. Jose Reyes

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

You know the drill by now: if healthy, Jose Reyes gives the Blue Jays a dynamic leadoff man capable of singlehandedly sparking the offense (see: .395/.465/.526 triple-slash in 10 games to start 2013). Of course, his hamstring issue this spring has escalated from him being a precautionary holdout to having an MRI done in a matter of days, so ...

2. Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera Blue Jays
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2. Melky Cabrera

Melky Cabrera Blue Jays
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Apparently back tumors are quite the debilitating thing, because Melky Cabrera looks like a new man this year. With no health issues bothering him, Cabrera has lit it up this spring with a 1.030 OPS in 56 at-bats. He's only got one stolen base, but is running much better than he did last season ... when he couldn't really run at all. Besides, who needs SBs when nine of his 24 hits are doubles? A bounce-back 2014 campaign looks likely.

3. Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista Blue Jays
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3. Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista Blue Jays
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Bautista is on a warpath at the plate this spring, having posted a .340/.439/.745 line thus far in 47 ABs with five homers. He's traditionally done well in Spring Training, but his 1.183 OPS in the practice season so far is his highest mark since the 1.343 OPS he put up in spring of 2010 ... which just happened to precede his 54-homer breakout season. He won't touch that number in 2014, but he won't need to for this offense to click, because ...

4. Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays
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4. Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

... the underrated Encarnacion will be there to pick up the slack. Together with Bautista, he is part of one the best middle-of-the-order tandems in the game. Over the last two seasons, Encarnacion's .923 OPS is only nine points lower than that of reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen. Only two players hit more homers combined in that time than the artist formerly known as E3 -- Chris Davis and some guy named Miguel Cabrera. I hear he's pretty good.

5. Adam Lind

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
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5. Adam Lind

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If John Gibbons uses Lind strictly against righties (.924 OPS in 2013) in a platoon, thing should be just fine. However, the Blue Jays manager is apparently hinting that Lind might see at-bats against lefties (.573 OPS), which won't end well for anybody.

6. Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus
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6. Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus
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The most valuable Blue Jays player at 4.8 fWAR in 2013, Rasmus batted .314/.357/.552 in the second half, trimming his strikeout rate all the way down to 15.8 percent in the last month. There's star potential there, and he could move up in the order depending on the start he gets off to in 2014; but considering that he's got 16 Ks in 39 spring ABs already, the scary 41.8 percent K-rate from April 2013 might see an encore before things improve.

7. Brett Lawrie

Brett Lawrie Blue Jays
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7. Brett Lawrie

Brett Lawrie Blue Jays
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Okay, so maybe Lawrie wasn't the immediate superstar he looked like when he busted into MLB in 2011, but he's better than his injury-plagued self in 2013. Currently batting 333/.377/.438 in 48 spring ABs, Lawrie should push 15-15 and 4.0 fWAR this season on natural ability alone as long as he's healthy.

8. Dioner Navarro

Dioner Navarro Blue Jays
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

8. Dioner Navarro

Dioner Navarro Blue Jays
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody really knows how the newcomer will do in his first full-time gig in years ... except that he'll probably be better than J.P. Arencibia. In the end, that might not be saying too much, and Navarro's .591 OPS this spring isn't likely to inspire a ton of confidence offensively. He was arguably Anthopoulos' biggest offseason acquisition, so let's just say that he'll have to live up to certain expectations, as low as they might be at this point.

9. Ryan Goins

Ryan Goins
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9. Ryan Goins

Ryan Goins
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He can play defense! But can he hit? Well ...

Not that he needs to be Robinson Cano out there, but with a .436 OPS in spring thus far (.609 in 2013), the concern is that Goins won't hit enough to stay above water for his glove to matter. Second base was a black hole all last year, and there's little to suggest that 2014 will be different. This lineup will score its fair share of runs, but not from this spot.

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