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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING REPORT: TORONTO BLUE JAYS

By Michael Wong

Dunedin, Fla.--The Toronto Blue Jays went into 2017 spring training with a gaping hole in the middle of their potent lineup as a result of first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion's defection to the Cleveland Indians.  While the Blue Jays did bring back veteran outfielder Jose Bautista, there are still many questions about the teams rotation and whether or not they lost too much power in the middle of the order once Encarnacion skipped town.  Let's get to some of the more pressing questions from a fantasy baseball angle.

1.  So with Encarnacion gone, what will the Blue Jays do at first base?  The answer is not very impressive as they will go with a platoon involving Justin Smoak and journeyman Steve Pearce.  Both Smoak and Pearce have power and the latter at least has shown he can hit for a decent enough average.  However the fact that there will be a platoon here means that both have pretty much zero fantasy baseball value outside of deeper AL-only formats.

2.  Kendrys Morales was signed to take over the DH role for the Jays in 2017.  Is he still one of the better power buys in fantasy baseball?  Absolutely.  Morales has been an annual recommendation from our site as he supplies terrific power at a cheap price.  The fact of the matter is that many in the fantasy baseball community moved away from Morales and put him out of sight/out of mind when he suffered that gruesome broken leg with the Los Angeles Angels.  While Morales has not gone back to being the .300 hitter he was with the Angels, his power is still impressive as he comes off a very good 2016 campaign when he slammed 30 home runs (his second highest career total), collected 93 RBI, and batted ..263.  The average was depressed slightly by an unlucky .283 BABIP but Morales is now 33 and so leakage there is not a shock.  Instead, focus on how Morales hit 30 home runs in a pitchers park in Kansas City last season and that he is capable of matching that and even going higher with a full year in Rogers Center.  100 RBI is also almost a lock here as Morales will be hitting right in the middle of the lineup. While he is a UTIL or CI bat in most fantasy baseball leagues, Morales is an excellent buy again.

3.  Is Devon Travis ever going to stay healthy enough to show the burgeoning offensive game that has flashed before?  Travis is another guy who carries some tremendous potential fantasy baseball value this season as he hit .300 with 11 home runs in only 432 at-bats last season as he finally put ongoing shoulder trouble behind him.  This is a future 20 home runs hitter who has already proved he can hit .300 and there is also some speed lying under the surface as well.  Travis' current ADP is in extreme value range and at the shallow second base position, should be looked at a very good upside play this season.

4.  Josh Donaldson is so consistently good that he is now boring to draft right?  You know you are a special kind of performer when you enter into this type of class of player.  Like with Miguel Cabrera over the last few years, Donaldson has reached the stage where he is so consistently good that it is not overly exciting to draft him.  Be that as it may, we will gladly sign on for a 35-homer and 115 RBI monster like Donaldson should be again this season.  While we would understand those who take Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado before him, Donaldson should not last past the middle of Round 1 in drafts this spring.

5.  How bad will the regression be for Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ this season?  It should be sharp but for different reasons.  Both Sanchez and Happ are on our DO NOT DRAFT lists this season and that is not primarily due to their brutal home ballpark.  For Sanchez, the insane innings jump he made as a starter for the first time in his career last season almost guarantees that he will hit the wall in 2017 and see his arm "bounce" from all that work.  Also Sanchez had a very lucky .267 BABIP last season that won't be repeated and his 7.55 K/9 rate is asking for trouble in the AL East.  Meanwhile Happ was a punching bag for years until he somehow 20 games last season.  His .268 BABIP was just as lucky as Sanchez' and Happ's 7.52 K/9 was also very shaky.  Avoid like the plague.


2 comments:

  1. Do you think Donaldson is that much of a lock for 115 RBIs? He's only eclipsed 100 once in his career.

    ReplyDelete
  2. no not a lock but 100 RBI in that lineup with an outside chance of 115.

    ReplyDelete