It’s the offseason now, so I wanted to try something different that I haven’t done in the past, and as I began writing this article, it quickly became apparent that this was going to be a big big article. So I’ve made the decision to break it up, and publish it in parts. So here is part one! Enjoy!
The Blue Jays have some holes to fill, I think we can all agree, and many feel that the Jays are close to a championship caliber team, but just how close are they? I felt that the best way to answer this was to compare the Jays 2012 roster to the World Series winning San Francisco Giants roster.
Now obviously, over the course of a season there are many injuries (as any Jans fan will tell you), trades, and different players being optioned either up to the majors or back to the minors, or in some cases DFA’d. So for the exercise, I’ve taken the Giants World Series winning roster and went with their positional starters from Game 4 (since they played in an AL park) and took the Jays roster using, for the most part, the players who spent the most time in each position or started the most games for the rotation. If my bias shines through, I do apologize.
To keep things interesting, I’ll assign a point for each position based on who had the better or more productive player, and we’ll see who has the most points in the end. So let’s start things off with a strength for the Jays.
Edwin Encarnación vs Brandon Belt
Without saying much, this is probably the Jays best chance for a point. Through 2012, Encarnación was one of the lone bright spots as he finally reached the potential many saw in him previously.
EE finished the year hitting a career best triple slash of .280/.384/.557 with 42 HRs, 24 doubles, and 110 RBIs in 542 at bats. Easily, the Jays MVP of 2013. Going forward, EE’s role is uncertain. Will he man first base or will he be the designated hitter? The answer will depend on how the offseason unfolds, but we will likely see another platoon situation which is probably the best way to use him going forward.
His defensive skills at first base were a surprise to many, as he made fewer errors in 66 games at first in 2012 than he did in the 22 he started in 2011, which sounds nice but the real story is his -5.5 UZR (-14.1 UZR/150), which illustrates that Toronto’s defense could really benefit from a genuine first basemen come 2013.
What some may have missed was that seven different men spent time at first base this season, so the Jays haven’t necessarily found their solution just yet, so maybe we can add a first basemen to the list. However, in the grand scheme of things, that need is relatively low on the list. It’s practically dead last.
So what have the Giants got? Brandon Belt started 145 games for the Giants at first and accomplished a .275/.360/.421 line through the regular season, with 7 HRs, 27 2Bs, and 56 RBIs in 411 at bats. Not quite the same numbers that Edwin put up, but in the Giants line up, batting sixth, he was a consistent contributor while playing a much better defensive game than Encarnación.
He made 8 errors across his 145 starts, but his UZR was a much improved -1.0 (-1.3 UZR/150). Again, he didn’t set the defensive world on fire, but was many steps ahead of what Edwin did, even across a lot more games.
So while Brandon Belt and the Giants all get their World Series rings, Edwin and the Jays get the point here.
Result: One point for the Jays.
Coming Soon: Second Base