Why the Blue Jays would be the scariest team to face in 2021 MLB playoffs

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The Blue Jays discover themselves nicely inside placing distance of the American League wild card.

Toronto begins a three-game collection with the Yankees on Tuesday, adopted by a three-game stretch with the Orioles to finish the season, whereas the high wild card team Yankees face the AL East champion Rays and the second wild card Red Sox face the Orioles and Nationals to wrap up the marketing campaign.

Reaching the playoffs not solely appears potential for Toronto however nicely inside its management. The Blue Jays may not enter with the greatest document in the American League, however they could be the team no person needs to face in pursuit of a World Series.

MORE: Could Wander Franco challenge Ted Williams’ on-base streak?

How did the Blue Jays get to this level, and what’s going to make them so harmful heading into October? Sporting News breaks it down.

MVP and Cy Young?

Look, Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani is a heavy, heavy favourite to win the AL MVP. His season is in contrast to any the sport has ever seen.

But if it is not Ohtani, it can virtually definitely be younger star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The 22-year-old first baseman leads all American League batters with a Fangraphs WAR of 6.7 and OPS at 1.005. He leads all of baseball with 120 runs scored. He is tied with Royals catcher Salvador Perez for the residence run lead at 46 (coming into Monday’s video games). By OPS+, it has been the ninth-best season ever for a participant 22 years outdated or youthful, according to Stathead.

Guerrero’s not the solely Blue Jay in award talks, nonetheless, and he is definitely not the one with the greatest odds of profitable. Robbie Ray has been one in every of the most dominant pitchers in the recreation. He leads the league in strikeouts with 244, has the lowest ERA in the AL at 2.68, is tied for the lowest WHIP at 1.04 with the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and he is pitched the most innings at 188. His fWAR trails solely Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi and Cole in the American League.

Could the Blue Jays sweep the awards? 

Few groups have been ready to obtain that objective. Here’s a take a look at every team that has, not counting pitchers that received each the Cy Young and MVP.

TeamYearCy YoungMVP
Brewers1957Warren SpahnHank Aaron
White Sox1959Early WynnNellie Fox
Pirates1960Vern LawDick Groat
Yankees1961Whitey FordRoger Maris
Dodgers1962Don DrysdaleMaury Wills
Red Sox1967Jim LonborgCarl Yastrzemski
Dodgers1974Mike MarshallSteve Garvey
Phillies1980Steve CarltonMike Schmidt
Brewers1982Pete VuckovichRobin Yount
Cubs1984Rick SutcliffeRyne Sandberg
Dodgers1988Orel HershiserKirk Gibson
Pirates1990Doug DrabekBarry Bonds
Athletics1990Bob WelchRickey Henderson
Braves1991Tom GlavineTerry Pendleton
White Sox1993Jack McDowellFrank Thomas
Athletics2002Barry ZitoMiguel Tejada
Cardinals2005Chris CarpenterAlbert Pujols
Twins2006Johan SantanaJustin Morneau
Tigers2013Max ScherzerMiguel Cabrera

Of the 19 that picked up the two main awards, 11 made it to the World Series and 5 received all of it. Only the 1962 Dodgers failed to attain the postseason.

Having a dominant hurler on the bump and the most feared hitter in the playoffs all on the identical team? That’ll make for some robust matchups for opponents.

MORE: Juan Soto for NL MVP?

Deep lineup

The Blue Jays aren’t simply Vlad Jr., nonetheless. They’re one in every of the deepest lineups in the sport. 

Toronto is on the verge of being the first team since the 2003 Braves to have 4 gamers with no less than 100 RBIs, which is tied for the second-most of any team, behind solely the 1936 Yankees, who had 5, according to Stathead.

Teoscar Hernandez sits at 112, Guerrero is at 105, second baseman Marcus Semien is at 99 and Bo Bichette is at 98. Over the closing six video games, if Lourdes Gurriel Jr. continues his hot-hitting stretch, he ought to no less than be part of the 90 membership as he is at 84 RBIs.

Based on weighted runs created-plus, the Blue Jays have the high AL hitter at first base (Guerrero, 167) and second base (Semien, 134), third-best in proper discipline (Hernandez, 136) and fourth-best at shortstop (Bichette, 115).

Backed by the stellar hitters, the Blue Jays are additionally presently main the league in team OPS+ at 114 and so they’ve hit for the most energy with an ISO of .197 that additionally leads the league.

MORE: Blue Jays plunk Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier in apparent retaliation over pitching card dispute

Youngest playoff-contending team

Most playoff groups are loaded with skilled expertise which have had years of perfecting their video games and preparing for playoff runs. The youthful groups usually take a number of years to prepare to compete.

The Blue Jays are a bit completely different, nonetheless. Among the groups competing for the playoffs in the AL, no team has a youthful common age than Toronto (27.9 years outdated), according to ESPN. Only the Phillies (27.5) are youthful amongst groups in MLB with a profitable document.

It begins with that core group. Guerrero is just 22, Bichette is 23, Alejandro Kirk is 22, Cavan Biggio is 26 and Gurriel is 27. Toronto solely has two gamers in its beginning lineup 30 or older — Semien (30) and George Springer (31). 

What ought to be particularly scary to different MLB groups is that exterior of Semien and Ray, who’re free brokers after this season, most of the core is sticking round for some time. Hernandez will not hit free company till 2024, Gurriel in 2025, Guerrero and Bichette in 2026 and Springer in 2027, according to Spotrac.

Should they attain the playoffs this 12 months, the Blue Jays will acquire useful expertise, and this core goes to be round for a very long time.

MORE: MLB standings 2021

Key offseason signings

The Blue Jays’ massive splash this offseason was to signal Springer to a six-year, $150 million deal. It says loads a few team that he hasn’t even seen a lot of their greatest acquisition.

Springer missed most of the starting of the season, taking part in in simply 4 video games till rejoining the lineup extra recurrently on June 22. At that time, the Blue Jays had been simply 36-35 and 4 video games out of the wild card.

Even although Springer hasn’t been fairly up to the stage he had been over the previous a number of years in Houston, he has made an enormous distinction. He has slashed .242/.335/.516 with 19 homers in 72 video games and has a wRC+ of 126. According to MLB Networks’ Jon Morosi, the Blue Jays have a document of 44-28 when he is been in the lineup and simply 43-41 when he hasn’t hit.

But the greatest signings have undoubtedly been Semien and Ray. Semien left Oakland in free company and signed a one-year, $18 million deal to be part of Toronto. On that team-friendly deal, he has had an MVP-caliber marketing campaign posting a slash line of .268/.339/.543 with 43 homers and 15 stolen bases, and he is recorded an fWAR of 4.2.

Ray was acquired by the Blue Jays final season and was a free agent after 2020, however he signed a one-year, $8 million deal to come again.

MORE: Dodgers’ Max Scherzer could top list as best midseason pitching acquisition of all time

(Not so) secret bullpen weapon

There are the weapons that the Blue Jays have which were flourishing all through the season. Then there’s another who, whereas showing with the team this season, hasn’t but stood out on paper.

That would be fire-balling right-hander Nate Pearson. The 25-year-old has lengthy been thought-about one in every of the recreation’s high pitching prospects in massive half to his fastball that may routinely hit triple digits and a wipeout slider that sits in the mid-80s.

Pearson was anticipated to be with the team extra this season, however has battled accidents and has been restricted to simply 11 innings with a 5.73 ERA. However, most of that injury got here in a begin again in May. Since he was known as again up in early September, he is been lights out.

Pearson has appeared in eight video games and has recorded a 4.15 ERA in 8.2 innings of labor. Even that ERA is ballooned considerably by an outing in which he allowed two earned runs to cross the plate on Sept. 9 vs. the Yankees. Since that outing, the ERA is 1.59 in 5.2 innings with eight strikeouts and simply 4 hits allowed.

Prospects have typically made a distinction for groups in the playoffs as bullpen weapons. David Price was promoted in late 2008 as a reliever and helped the Rays attain the World Series. Brandon Finnegan was vital to the Royals in 2014. Garrett Crochet was filthy for the White Sox down the stretch final season. 

Pearson’s stuff is electrical, and if the Blue Jays choose to have him accessible in the bullpen in the postseason, he might be an actual weapon in opposition to opposing hitters.

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