|Fantasy Baseball: 2008 Toronto Blue Jays Preview|
Written by David Wagner (Contact & Archive) on March 18, 2008
The Toronto Blue Jays have no one who ranks in the top tier.
Alex Rios (OF): Rios established himself as a rising star last year, finally playing in all but one game during the season. He posted 100+ runs with nearly 200 hits, 40+ doubles and 20+ homers. He also did that while hitting a hair under .300. More fantasy good news: he’ll also steal 15-20 bases. He’s a great pick once the top outfielders – Holliday, Ordonez, Crawford, etc – are gone.
Roy Halladay (SP): The 2003 Cy Young award winner had a great 2007 and has proven that he’ll provide strong numbers in ERA, WHIP and Wins. Even though his strikeout totals are down and walks are up, they’re still very strong (though you shouldn’t count on him to be one of your top two strikeout guys). As the ace of the team, look for him to continue his good work.
Vernon Wells (OF): Wells had a very similar season to another CF: Andruw Jones. Both were top-tier outfielders going into the 2007 season, and both had very poor seasons to drop them into the second tier. Wells hit half as many home runs and had a far worse batting average than 2006. His poor performance was probably a result of a sore shoulder, which he had surgery on during the offseason. Fantasy owners will hope for a rebound and a healthy year, and if that’s the case, he’ll be a worthy pick.
Dustin McGowan (SP): McGowan pitched pretty well in his first full year of being a starter for Toronto. He’ll probably be picked in the later rounds because he’s relatively unknown, but he could be a very productive pick when the pickings are getting slim. Figure him to post at least double-digits in wins as well as a low-4.00 ERA, and getting that in the 14th-16th rounds should provide a nice return. However, if you’re picking him earlier in the draft, you may be passing up stronger players.
Jeremy Accardo (RP): Accardo will likely be picked in the draft after all the other strong relievers are gone. He registered 30 saves when he stepped into the closer’s role after B.J. Ryan needed season-ending surgery last May, so he’s proven that he can succeed in the role. It looks like Ryan will have a chance to return to the closer role, but if he suffers any setbacks, Accardo is a very reliable backup plan. How much faith do you have in pitchers with bad mechanics coming back early from Tommy John surgery and not suffering any more injuries?
Scott Rolen (3B): The general theory behind the Rolen-for-Troy Glaus trade is that the change of scenery will be beneficial for both players. What Scott Rolen needs more than that is a healthy year. If he can stay healthy, he can still post strong numbers; however, be sure to keep your eye posted on his health reports.
Frank Thomas (DH): The Big Hurt turns 40 this year and showed signs of slowing last year. Despite posting solid power numbers last year (26 HR, 95 RBI, .480 SLG), they were a far cry from his 2006 numbers (39/114/.545). It also may be a good idea to make Thomas a “player to watch” and keep an eye on his numbers around the All-Star Break – check out his first- and second-half splits over the last two years. You’ll find that he’s been performing at a significantly stronger rate later in the season.
A.J. Burnett (SP): Will Burnett remain healthy enough this season to post 30+ starts? If so, will he be effective and post the numbers you hope he will? Injury troubles have plagued him seemingly forever, so just when it looks like he’s turned a corner, he could head to the DL before you know it. While he might post double digits in wins, his losses will probably be close behind – his win-loss record is barely over .500 (69-66 in 177 starts).
B.J. Ryan (RP): Ryan returns after undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last May. It’s tempting to draft Ryan in the later rounds – he was one of the game’s elite closers in 2005 and 2006, registering high save totals and remarkable K/9 IP numbers. Also, reports are that Ryan is steadily making his way back for Opening Day. So, he looks like a steal. However, the smart fantasy owner would be very cautious in adding him to their team. Even if he is able to stay healthy, time will tell how soon he’s able to perform at the same All-Star level he’s been known for.
Travis Snider (OF): Snider was the Jays’ first-round pick in 2006 and is giving the Toronto decision-makers something to think about. He’s a highly-regarded left-handed hitter with very good power potential, and it looks like he could post a .300+ batting average along with 20+ home runs in the big leagues someday. If he continues to make progress in the Minor Leagues this summer, he could perform well in the September call-ups. Otherwise, don’t expect him to play in Toronto this year unless injuries come to town – his timeline looks like he’ll play in 2009.