Baseball, Sports

Can the Toronto Blue Jays make a deep postseason run?

With 162 games in total, the Major League Baseball (MLB) season can seem draining to some fans. From May to September, the games can feel quite meaningless, with fans just waiting for October to roll around and for the playoffs to finally begin. 

For Toronto Blue Jays fans, this postseason brings an opportunity to avenge the failure of last year’s wildcard series against the Seattle Mariners. With the Jays claiming the third wildcard spot on Sept. 30, the team is poised to face off against the Minnesota Twins. However, with the team underperforming all season long, many fans are left asking: Do the Jays have the legs to make a deep postseason run? The Tribune explores arguments both for and against the possibility. 

For: A September surge

The Jays showed a glimmer of what they are capable of when they are at their best when outfielder George Springer slid head-first into home base to cap-off an inside-the-park home run on Sept. 24 against their American League (AL) East rival––the Tampa Bay Rays. The Jays’ Achilles heel this season has been a struggling offence and a lack of timely hitting, but September has shown some promise of overcoming their weakness that can hopefully carry into the postseason. Despite a flailing series against the New York Yankees, where they lost two out of three games, the Jays have scored 45 runs in their past six games against the Rays. A struggling Vladimir Guerrero Jr. boasts a .300/.407/1.047 slashline with five home runs and ten RBIs over the past two weeks.Moreover, contributions from Cavan Biggio, Daulton Varsho and a resurgence of power from Matt Chapman may give the Jays the much needed offensive boost they need in the postseason. 

Against: Bad record against teams in the AL East 

Playing in the hardest division in baseball is tough and the Jays have proven just that. Their measly record of 21–31 against AL East opponents makes it hard to see how the Jays would come out on top in a series against the Rays, let alone a fight for the division title against the division-leading Baltimore Orioles. Moreover, their record of 42–49 against teams with a record above .500 does not bode well for the sharper competition they will face come playoff time. 

Against: Bad baserunning

Baserunning may seem like a micro-issue, however, with the new rules leading stolen bases to jump from 2,486 in 2022 to over 3,000 in 2023, its value cannot be underestimated. Not only are the Jays tied for last in total stolen bases league-wide with 99, but poor baserunning decisions have been commonplace all season long. The Jays rank 29th in stolen base percentage (stolen bases plus caught stealing divided by stolen bases), and fifth in outs on base (when a runner is put out while making a baserunning play). All to say, the Jays baserunning is one of their greatest flaws, and will surely haunt them in the playoffs.  

For: Veteran presence

Vet presence often turns out to be one of the biggest x-factors in the MLB postseason, and if the Jays want any chance of a deep run, they will have to capitalize on this advantage.The Blue Jays have a handful of veterans that can lead the team to victory. Springer, a World Series champion and World Series Most Valuable Player in 2017, has played 65 playoff games with the Houston Astros. Brandon Belt, a bright spot on a struggling Jays team, played in 35 playoff games with the San Francisco Giants and won two World Series’ in 2012 and 2014. Hyun Jin Ryu has also appeared in nine playoff games. Safe to say, playoff experience is not an issue on this Jays roster. 

Bonus For: Pitching staff 

The Jays have one of the strongest pitching staffs in all of baseball. They have the fourth lowest team era (3.78), to complement a third overall era of 3.85 amongst their starting pitchers. The staff also boasts the third highest strikeouts per nine innings (9.47) and are in the top half of the league for almost every other pitching metric. 

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