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Toronto Blue Jays 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Blue Jays look to not just make the postseason, but to play well into October

Falling one agonizing game short of the postseason in 2021 provided the Toronto Blue Jays with a winter's worth of motivation in pursuit of World Series contention this summer. Some expected normalcy following consecutive seasons marked by pandemic displacement should help on that end, as an emotional homecoming last July 30 after 670 days away nearly ended with a storybook finish. Continued growth of budding superstars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, a deep rotation led by José Berríos and Kevin Gausman, and an impact-laden roster headlined by George Springer all give the Blue Jays a legitimate shot at not only making the playoffs, but also doing some damage in October should they qualify.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Blue Jays

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"They're the team to beat, for me — best young crop of position players out there. They're athletic, hungry and only getting better. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the kind of body that will always require a lot of maintenance, but he looked great last year and was in crush mode all season long. Bo Bichette just flat hits, and he was a surprise on defense. The industry consensus was that he'd move off shortstop, but he stuck there, which is a credit to his work ethic and confidence. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is a really solid glue guy who flies under the radar with so many stars around. They'll miss Marcus Semien, for sure, but that's mitigated if George Springer plays a full season. They paid a ton to bring Kevin Gausman back to the AL East, but he's a different pitcher than he was in Baltimore — he uses that devastating split/change more than twice as often as he used to and just pitches off that. They made a great trade to get José Berríos — the prospects had name recognition, so they were overvalued — and then made sure to extend him."

Beyond the Box Score

Home woes How 2021 would have turned out had they been able to play all 81 home games in Toronto is a lingering question for the Blue Jays. They went 10–11 at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, their spring training home, and then 12–11 at Buffalo's Sahlen Field before a 25–11 run at Rogers Centre (they also lost a game playing as the home team in Anaheim, making up an April rainout). They weren't going to play .694 baseball at home all year, but would there have been just one more win there?

Toronto Blue Jays 2022 Baseball Cover

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Third time's the charm The Blue Jays tried to sign Kevin Gausman after both the 2019 and 2020 seasons — he turned down a three-year deal to accept an $18.9 million qualifying offer from the Giants the second time. So when he hit the open market for a third time, the righthander figured he'd be hearing from Ross Atkins again, and he was indeed among the GM's first calls. This time, Gausman said yes.

Spendthrifts The Blue Jays have progressively become more aggressive in their spending, beginning with Hyun Jin Ryu's four-year, $80 million deal, growing into George Springer's six-year, $150 million contract and then the nine-figure commitments to José Berríos and Gausman. Prior to the Springer signing, the club had handed out only one $100 million-plus contract, the seven-year, $126 million deal signed by Vernon Wells after the 2006 season. The Berríos extension is the first deal to go seven since the Wells deal, too.

Down to the last out The final day of the 2021 season had 16 different postseason and tiebreaker scenarios in the AL. It was just the fourth time in franchise history that the Jays played Game 162 with their season at stake, the most recent having come in 2016, when they won their first wild-card berth. In 1987, they lost 1–0 to Detroit to finish two games behind the Tigers in the AL East, while in 1990, they finished with a walk-off 3–2 loss to Baltimore as Boston's 3–1 win secured the division for the Red Sox.

Please come home Despite hosting only 36 games in Toronto — with capacity limits of 15,000 for 29 of them and 30,000 for the remaining seven — the Blue Jays still drew 805,901 fans. That was better than Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Oakland and Miami and fell just 54,000 fans short of Pittsburgh. The Toronto games totaled 604,835 fans, compared to 170,130 in 23 Buffalo home dates and 30,936 for 21 Dunedin games.

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Planting a seed The Blue Jays went into the offseason aiming to re-sign both Robbie Ray and Marcus Semien, but when they could not, they secured themselves a pair of compensatory draft picks. Leveraging the extra picks is pivotal for the Jays as they try to keep their farm system well stocked.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

CF   George Springer (R)
SS    Bo Bichette (R)
1B    Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (R)
RF    Teoscar Hernández (R)
3B    Matt Chapman (R)
LF    Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (R)
2B    Cavan Biggio (L)
DH   Alejandro Kirk (R)
C      Danny Jansen (R)

BENCH

OF   Raimel Tapia (L)
C     Zack Collins (L)
IF     Santiago Espinal (R)
OF   Josh Palacios (L)

ROTATION

RHP    José Berríos
RHP    Kevin Gausman
LHP    Hyun-Jin Ryu
RHP    Alek Manoah
LHP    Yusei Kikuchi

BULLPEN

RHP    Jordan Romano (C)
LHP    Tim Mayza
RHP    Yimi Garcia
RHP    Adam Cimber
RHP    Trevor Richards
LHP    Ryan Borucki
RHP    Julian Merryweather
RHP   Ross Stripling

2022 Prediction: 1st in AL East