Expectations haven’t been this high in Toronto since the Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series in 1992-93. If all goes according to plan in 2022, the Jays will win at least 90 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since those championship years and will return to the postseason after missing out in 2021. This team is built to win now and has a prolonged contention window with a young, controlled core group of players that rose through the minor league ranks as teammates. It will be interesting to see how normalcy feels for the Blue Jays. After playing the 2020 season in Buffalo, New York, and the 2021 season in a combination of Dunedin (Florida), Buffalo and Toronto, the Jays return to a full season at home with a strict vaccine mandate that may greatly affect visiting teams — and all the pieces to emerge victorious in a stacked AL East.
The Blue Jays were one of the unluckiest teams in 2021 according to Pythagorean Win-Loss and BaseRuns. They went 91-71 but should have been 99-63 by Pythagorean and 97-65 by BaseRuns. Either of those records would have gotten them into the playoffs. Instead, they finished fourth in the AL East and came up one game short of the postseason. This year’s projections have the Blue Jays as the best team in the AL and it’s hard to argue otherwise.
Parsing through the last two years of data for the Blue Jays is an exercise in futility. The Jays played games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo and TD Ballpark in Dunedin, their spring-training home in Florida. Both parks were tremendous for offense, especially on the Blue Jays side of the ledger.
All home games will be back at Rogers Centre in 2022. In 36 games there in 2021, the Blue Jays slashed .266/.328/.476 after putting up a .276/.348/.493 slash line at TD Ballpark (21 games) and a .278/.337/.497 slash at Sahlen Field (23 games). While Rogers Centre won’t be as kind, the players will be happy to play at home again and regain some stability.
If we project out those Rogers Centre numbers for the full season, the Jays would have been fifth in batting average, 12th in OBP and third in SLG at home. They were the majors’ second-best road offense, trailing only the Astros in wOBA, OBP and wRC+ , but they did lead MLB in SLG. Overall, the Blue Jays led the majors in wOBA and SLG. They could very well do so again this year, even with 81 games at Rogers Centre.
The power numbers will likely drop a bit for the Jays, who hit 21 more homers and slugged 22 points higher than any other team. Along with the park factor, they also bid adieu to Marcus Semien, who had a career year with 45 homers. Matt Chapman will be a great infield replacement with an elite glove at third, but he’ll be more of a 30-homer guy, and possibly one of many. Bo Bichette came close with 29 long balls last season, Teoscar Hernandez bashed 32 and George Springer had 22 in just 78 games. A full season of Springer coupled with Chapman at the hot corner could more than offset the loss of Semien.
The signing of Chapman will also take away some wear and tear on Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who can just play first base now and not worry as much about defense. Guerrero had a monster 2021 season with a .311/.401/.601 slash, a .419 wOBA and a 166 wRC+ , meaning he was 66% better than league average as a hitter. Those are Troutian offensive numbers, as last year’s move to first base paid huge dividends. Now that he can stay there for the rest of his career, the sky’s the limit.