Fantasy managers who have several Blue Jays hitters in their lineup likely felt their frustration boil over last weekend. Toronto was supposed to have one of the most potent offenses in baseball, and some believed that they would lead the Majors in runs scored. After all, this is a team that led baseball in OPS and ranked third in runs scored last season.
Instead of pounding opposing hurlers, however, Toronto has tormented fantasy managers with its disappointing start to the season.
Last weekend Toronto was presented with the perfect opportunity to get on track. But in three games against a Reds team that entered the series allowing more than five runs per game, the Blue Jays managed to score just seven times. On Sunday, Toronto tallied just one extra-base hit during a contest in which the Reds were forced to scratch their scheduled starter a few hours prior to first pitch.
The Blue Jays now sit 21st in the Majors in OPS (.672) and 26th in runs scored (147). Situational hitting has been a major problem for this team, as they sit second-to-last in OPS with runners in scoring position.
It’s time to draw some conclusions about individual lineup members.
Who has delivered on their potential?
-George Springer has given the club a solid leadoff man, producing the highest OPS (.826) of any qualified Blue Jay. He remains an excellent fantasy asset.
-Santiago Espinal is the lone pleasant surprise in the lineup. The infielder worked his way into the starting second base job and has been a serviceable player in 12-team leagues while logging a .783 OPS.
-The catchers haven’t been the problem. In his limited time when healthy, Danny Jansen has shown breakout potential (1.078 OPS). And although Alejandro Kirk (.674 OPS) and Zack Collins (.662 OPS) haven’t been special, they have matched the catcher production that most teams have received.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel for these disappointing stars?
-Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been decent (.781 OPS), but decent is far below what managers expected when drafting him in the first round. Some of his batted-ball tendencies are slightly down from last year, but they remain strong. His .294 xBA and .528 xSLG are excellent indicators that he should eventually heat up. I like any scenario where Guerrero can be added via trade at a slight discount.
-Bo Bichette (.677 OPS) has been as disappointing as Guerrero. But similar to Vlad, Bichette has favorable Statcast numbers that include a .294 xBA and a .486 xSLG. Those marks are nearly identical to the ones he logged in his memorable 2021 campaign. Although his 24.7 percent strikeout rate is slightly high, he will likely cut down on the whiffs when he gets on track and stops pressing.
-Teoscar Hernandez (.502 OPS) is the most disappointing member of this lineup.
Tabbed in the first three rounds in many leagues, Hernandez endured an early season IL stint and hasn’t looked like himself since returning. Strikeouts (29.3 percent) have been a problem, and he is struggling to barrel the ball (6.4 percent) when he makes contact. His xBA is just .214, and if buying low on Hernandez, I would assume that he will need more time before he becomes helpful.
-Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is similar to Guerrero and Bichette, having produced strikeout, walk and batted-ball rates all indicating that he is still pretty much the same player who had a productive 2021 season. He could be easy to acquire on the trade market, as he was not a roster centerpiece in the first place.
-Matt Chapman (.638 OPS) has been mostly unusable in fantasy leagues, but his strikeout rate is better than in recent years and his average exit velocity is a solid 92.3 mph. Looking at his .246 xBA, Chapman is another member of this lineup who could turn things around soon.
As you can see, there are many reasons to believe that the Blue Jays' offense will soon get on track. The club definitely misses Marcus Semien (third in 2021 AL MVP voting), but there is too much talent in Toronto for this lineup to stay quiet much longer.