As we all know by now the Toronto Blue Jays missed the playoffs by just one game. The Jays did everything in their power to get the job done however, it just was not enough. The Jays finished the season with 91 wins and 71 losses. A record that should have been enough to make the playoffs. Most years it would have been, so what happened to the Jays this year? I feel there is a key factor to this season, a factor the Jays had no control over whatsoever.
Homes away from home
Covid 19 was hard on all sports, however, this impacted the Toronto Blue Jays more than any other team in baseball. The Jays had to play on 3 different home fields in Anaheim, Florida and Buffalo. In these 3 “homes” the Jays finished with 22 wins and 23 losses. Only winning 49 % of their home games. Although Blue Jays fly south for the winter, this was a huge struggle for the baseball team.
Once the Jays went back to their home ballpark, the Rogers Center, the team looked very different. The Jays started winning most of their home games, winning 25 while only losing 11. They won 69 % of their home games. So let’s do the math, if the Jays played all of their home games this season at the Rogers Center they would have won roughly 55 home games instead of 47. This would have pushed the Jays into a playoff spot and we would not even be having this conversation.
Does this group have what it takes to win?
“We became in my opinion the best team in baseball,”Jays 2nd baseman Marcus Semien told reporters shortly after learning the Jays will not be playing in the playoffs this year. Semien had a record breaking season by hitting the most home runs by any 2nd baseman in MLB history, hitting 47 of them. This team is very deep and young. Semien is one of many star players that comprise the Blue Jays roster.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., also set a record this season by hitting the most home runs in a single season by someone under the age of 22 in MLB history. Guerrero finished with 48 HR’s and 111 RBI’s. Guerrero is already one of the best hitters in baseball and he is only 22. Vladimir also took some big steps on the defensive side of the game, finding his home as a 1st baseman. Vladdy worked hard to get in much better shape last off-season and we should all assume that he will keep working to get better.
Bo Bichette is another key young player to this roster. Bo, who is only 23, was able to really find his swing this season and became very important to the Jays batting lineup hitting over 100 RIB’s. Bichette also came up with some clutch hits late in the season including that huge RBI double that helped the Jays get a much needed win over The New York Yankees late in the season.
The Jays also have some great pitchers to work with, Robbie Ray who is a favorite for the Cy Young Award & Alek Manoah who was one of the top rookies in all of baseball. Both of these guys are class A starting pitchers. Jordan Romano became a great closer pitching for the club. Nate Pearson has one heck of an arm and might have found a place in the bullpen towards the last few games.
These are just a few standout players on this star studded lineup so yes, I do feel this team does have what it takes to win. They are a very young, skilled ball club that just missed making the playoffs and doing some real damage.
So what now?
Going into this off season the Jays are going to have to make some tough choices. Marcus Semien will be a free agent unless Toronto can get a deal done. Robbie Ray is another guy that will be a free agent unless the Jays make a move to keep him. Ray is set to get a huge pay raise after this amazing season.
With no salary cap however the team can spend as much money as they feel is needed to make this group win. And the way I see it, the time is now to spend the money and try to go on a legit playoff run and hopefully capture an MLB title. This team has the skills, leadership and last but certainly not least, a winner’s mentality. Now you just need to keep the core and maybe bring in one or two small pieces to make this team a legit contender. However, we will just have to wait and see.
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