With less than a week to go before Major League Baseball starts their 2018 campaign, it’s fair to say we’re more than ready for the season to start. Grapefruit League games are nearly behind us, and we’re ready to watch the games that count for real.
For the Blue Jays, that might be because there’s some unknown about what to expect from this club. It’s a team, after all, that got off to a horrendous start in 2017 and never truly recovered. This season could go a number of ways, but a good start is almost a must.
With several players having a wide range of realistic outcomes for the season, it’s fun to set some over/unders on their success. So Asher & I set to the task during the 7th Inning Stretch Podcast last week, giving our best educated guesses. Special thanks to the At The Letters podcast on Sportsnet, which has used this idea for a few seasons and are unknowingly allowing us to borrow it.
Justin Smoak: Over/Under 27.5 Home Runs
“I think he’ll be under, but I don’t think by much. I could see something in the 22-24 range. I have a feeling we’re going to see a bit of an uptick in the strikeouts again, where last year he put together some better at bats and resulted in more home runs. I’m going to double down on my slight pessimism for Justin Smoak.”
Josh Donaldson: Over/Under 101.5 Runs Batted In
“While he’s a spectacular player his run production, probably based on the players who have hit in front of him over the time that he’s been here, has not been as high as you might expect it to be. Just to be radical, I’m going to go with the other on this one, not because I think he’s going to put up a subpar season for his standards. The rest of the team has to help him out, and I don’t think they will.”
Aaron Sanchez: Over/Under 3.50 ERA
“He’s one of those guys that’s so tantilizing to see what he can do over the course of a full season, without sending him down to the minors or giving him extra days off, skipping starts, taking off part of his fingernail. Just let him pitch, take care of him properly. I’m dying to see what happens over 32-33 starts.”
Roberto Osuna: Over/Under 33.5 saves
“There’s so many variables that go into it. The team has to be good enough to be in winning situations, but not so good that they’re consistently blowing teams out by 5-6 runs. He had 39 last year, and 10 blown saves, on a team that we agree was not all that good, and we expect them to be better. I don’t think 40 is out of the question.”
Randall Grichuk: Over/Under 25.5 home runs
“I think the only way Grichuk hits the under here is if he has injury problems. He’s missed some time in spring. If you’re going for the optimistic Blue Jays season, you gotta go with the optimism with players you’re on the bubble with. I think a guy like Grichuk, who has hit 46 in the last two years in a pitchers ballpark, he could hit 40 (here) and wouldn’t be all that crazy. Although that perhaps is a little overly optimistic.”
Troy Tulowitzki: Over/Under 77.5 games played
“Just for fun I’m gonna go with the over. Just because probably nobody else is, and we’re not betting money on this [Matt: Ha! That’s what you think!] Let’s hope that Tulo puts up some sort of a resurgent season, to put an early stop to the funeral march towards the end of his career.”
“I don’t think we’re gonna see him until June. And then I think he’s probably going to be on the DL once more when he gets back. 77 (games) is pretty much three months worth.”
Vladimir Guerrero Jr: Over/Under 30.5 games played
“Maybe, MAYBE, if Alex Anthopolous were still the general manager, you might see him make a radical move like that. I think as long as (Shaprio & Atkins) are in charge of the front office, there is no way in hell they are going to rush a 19-year old guy, no matter how much promise he has, up to this team to play any sort of significant playing time.”
“I think if it comes towards the middle of August and the Jays are right there in the wild card race and can use a jolt in the arm offensively, he’s hitting the lights out in Double-A, like .330 average, all kinds of crazy power numbers, and you’re not getting what you were expecting in left field, I could see him getting called up and just plunk him in left field, and deal with whatever defence he gives you because you want that bat seventh in the lineup as a guy who can produce runs and maybe get you over the hump.”
Blue Jays: Over/Under 89.5 wins
For the full discussion and analysis of all these questions, and many more facing the Blue Jays, please subscribe to The 7th Inning Stretch Podcast on Soundcloud, Google Play, iTunes, or wherever else you find your favourite podcasts.
Follow us on Twitter, @jaysbalk // @di_nic // @theasherroth.