The Blue Jays are always going on about the importance of depth…but team depth (when it comes to their position players) is no longer their problem. What is, is how little high-end talent they have.
The measure of a players overall performance is Wins Above Replacement (WAR). And when it comes to WAR, the Blue Jays roster has some serious issues. Justin Smoak and his team leading 2.1 WAR is the second lowest WAR in the American League for a player leading their team in that statistic. Only Tim Anderson of the White Sox has a lower WAR (1.9), and he plays for a team in the midst of one of the most extreme rebuilds going. Even the lowly Baltimore Orioles and their .306 winning percentage have two players with higher WAR’s than Smoak. Those two players (Manny Machado and Kevin Gausman) have since been traded, but you get the point.
If Smoak were to play for the Red Sox, he’d have the 10th highest WAR on that team. And it’s a similar story if he were a member of the Yankees, where he’d rank 8th. Heck, Russell Martin‘s 1.1 WAR actually places him 4th on the Blue Jays. Hard to believe that a player hitting .190 would even be in the Top 5 when it comes to overall performance.
Toronto thinks they have the outfield of their future with Kevin Pillar, Teoscar Hernandez, and Randal Grichuk. Sure, each of these players is talented, but they also have some serious flaws in their game. Which would explain why they have a combined WAR of 2.4. Just to put that into perspective, there are 16 outfielders in Major League Baseball (including four on the Yankees alone) who have a higher WAR than what Pillar/Hernandez/Grichuk have combined.
Some of Toronto’s WAR issues have to do with Josh Donaldson playing only 36 games this season. If he were healthy, Toronto likely has a player with a 5+ WAR. But that still doesn’t excuse the rest of the team for performing so poorly. Everyone knew that after the departure of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista, that this offense would need a whole lot more than just Donaldson. And yet Mark Shapiro still claimed that this ball club would compete this year. Get real. If you thought this group of players had what it takes to challenge for the post-season, you were either flat-out lying or don’t know nearly enough about baseball for someone in your position.
Lastly, Toronto’s best players need to be just that. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez shouldn’t just be amongst Toronto’s WAR leaders, they should be amongst the best starting pitchers in baseball. Back when the Blue Jays struggled in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, Roy Halladay never let being on such a mediocre team get in the way of him performing at his very best. Today’s version of the Blue Jays could learn a lot from that kind of approach to the game.