2021 ZiPS Projections: Toronto Blue Jays

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for nine years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Batters

The Jays offense did what it needed to in 2020, with the team doing an excellent job filling some of the holes in the lineup, especially in the outfield. I was admittedly skeptical of the motley crew of players who aren’t related to former big leaguers, but most of the personnel decisions worked out solidly for the organization. Teoscar Hernández finished in the top 10 in exit velocity; ZiPS now has him projected for a slugging percentage over .500 in 2021, enough to make him a legitimate starter rather than an interesting, one-dimensional bat. This is also the least skeptical ZiPS has been of Lourdes Gurriel Jr..

But while the outfield now looks like a decent group, the trickiest thing is still Randal Grichuk in center. I appreciate the Jays’ willingness to get creative and use a player who doesn’t look like a traditional fit at the position, but Grichuk still isn’t particularly good and his short-season 2020 stats were more good than great. After Grichuk, the team’s center field options aren’t all that appealing and I’d be inclined to improve the big league club’s depth at the position.

There’s a bit of disagreement between ZiPS and Steamer about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ZiPS is more worried about Vladito than Steamer is (conversely, ZiPS likes Bo Bichette better than Steamer does). I’m not actually sure which projection system I’m closer to personally. Guerrero’s raw stats in the majors haven’t been mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination, but he also doesn’t turn 22 until just before the start of the season. If you translated his actual major league performances to Double-A in 2019 and Triple-A in 2020, perfectly reasonable levels for his age, I doubt anyone would be disappointed. Still, his ceiling has to be slightly lower now, his conditioning is meh, and he has quickly moved the wrong way on the defensive spectrum.

That being said, I’m probably exaggerating the weakness of his ZiPS projection. ZiPS continues to expect him to be fine, it’s just not sure when; it still projects his average career at 50 WAR, only three less than it did before last season. While I haven’t run everyone yet, that would still put him in the top 15 for rest-of-career projections.

Pitchers

Going into the season, I was really concerned about how well the Blue Jays would patch their pitching together after Hyun Jin Ryu. Those worries turned out to be warranted, as apart from Ryu and the six starts the team got from Taijuan Walker, the rotation’s performance was pretty bleak. But it wasn’t so bleak that it kept the team from making the greatly expanded playoffs, finishing above .500. I’m actually more positive about the team’s hurlers this time around. Ryu pitched as well in the AL East as the projections hoped, so there’s much less worry there and ZiPS remains a fan of Robbie Ray. Both Ross Stripling and Tanner Roark project to have better seasons than their 2020 as well.

ZiPS is really into Nate Pearson for 2021 (another disagreement with Steamer). Only one other pitcher has gotten a comp to Jim Palmer at any stage of his career: Mike Soroka. I think the Jays would be quite happy if Pearson turned out to be as solid as Soroka was, pre-injury of course. The larger question is how durable Pearson will be, though 2020 didn’t provide much of a good answer.

I really hope the Jays are aggressive in adding to the bullpen this winter. Outside of Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano, there’s just not a whole lot of zazz, zork, kapowza, or anything else that puts mazuma in the bank. This is a team that really could have justified claiming Brad Hand (not that there wasn’t company on that score). Average relievers tend to have an ERA+ of 108 or so, though that figure was lower in 2020; only the two relievers named above project to clear that mark. Toronto’s a team on the edge of the playoff race in a tough division and every win added is a high-leverage one.

One pedantic note for 2021: For the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth charts playing time, not the playing time ZiPS spits out, so there will be occasional differences in WAR totals.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here.

Batters – Standard
Player B Age PO PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
Bo Bichette R 23 SS 545 504 77 144 33 6 23 95 37 94 27 8
Cavan Biggio L 26 2B 609 514 84 118 26 3 22 75 85 169 14 3
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. R 22 1B 601 544 77 150 33 5 26 98 50 95 2 1
Teoscar Hernandez R 28 DH 539 489 76 121 24 3 35 90 44 174 11 5
Alejandro Kirk R 22 C 386 347 47 90 24 2 10 47 34 56 1 0
Danny Jansen R 26 C 417 361 52 83 17 1 17 60 42 79 1 0
Travis Shaw L 31 3B 485 424 56 97 20 0 22 64 55 128 3 1
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. R 27 LF 508 474 64 129 27 1 25 79 25 116 6 4
Rowdy Tellez L 26 1B 497 448 67 117 26 0 27 84 39 114 2 3
Randal Grichuk R 29 CF 563 523 76 130 29 3 31 90 33 146 3 2
Jonathan Villar B 30 3B 586 529 66 130 19 2 16 60 50 155 39 11
Breyvic Valera B 29 2B 483 436 55 117 18 4 9 45 38 51 8 8
Derek Fisher L 27 LF 398 347 54 79 15 3 18 54 45 128 10 6
Jonathan Davis R 29 CF 454 398 50 85 18 3 11 45 36 122 14 4
Joe Panik L 30 2B 464 412 50 104 20 2 7 38 44 55 3 1
Riley Adams R 25 C 421 376 42 77 16 1 10 38 35 144 3 1
Santiago Espinal R 26 2B 470 434 50 105 19 2 7 40 27 88 8 6
Kevin Smith R 24 SS 490 459 51 95 20 2 20 62 23 168 12 5
Reese McGuire L 26 C 351 316 35 70 13 2 10 33 22 73 3 1
Brandon Drury R 28 3B 389 358 36 80 19 1 10 39 25 94 1 1
Josh Palacios L 25 CF 486 440 49 94 18 3 10 44 39 141 11 7
Caleb Joseph R 35 C 266 249 29 53 11 1 7 25 12 71 0 0
Nick Podkul R 24 3B 392 348 39 70 15 2 7 32 34 89 7 3
Ryan Noda L 25 1B 485 412 55 76 19 1 15 55 63 189 8 3
Forrest Wall L 25 CF 544 494 59 107 22 4 12 49 44 163 16 9
Samad Taylor R 22 2B 491 437 50 82 22 4 13 49 42 162 24 16
Chavez Young B 23 CF 519 479 50 100 19 4 10 42 32 143 23 15
Christopher Bec R 25 C 267 236 24 45 9 1 4 21 26 74 15 3
Cullen Large B 25 3B 435 395 39 84 19 3 5 31 29 138 4 2
Brock Lundquist L 25 LF 453 409 45 82 17 2 12 46 34 145 5 4
Mac James R 28 C 272 248 24 51 6 0 3 17 20 61 1 3
Logan Warmoth R 25 2B 418 380 34 70 14 3 3 24 27 142 10 2
Gabriel Guerrero R 27 RF 485 462 49 108 19 3 14 53 18 134 4 5

Batters – Advanced
Player BA OBP SLG OPS+ ISO BABIP RC/27 Def WAR No. 1 Comp
Bo Bichette .286 .334 .512 125 .226 .313 6.7 1 4.0 Lou Boudreau
Cavan Biggio .230 .342 .420 106 .191 .297 5.2 5 3.2 Lou Whitaker
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. .276 .341 .498 124 .222 .293 6.3 2 2.8 Paul Konerko
Teoscar Hernandez .247 .312 .524 121 .276 .307 5.9 0 2.1 Bob Allison
Alejandro Kirk .259 .329 .427 104 .167 .285 5.1 1 1.8 Mike Sweeney
Danny Jansen .230 .322 .424 101 .194 .249 4.8 0 1.8 Jamie Nelson
Travis Shaw .229 .320 .432 102 .203 .274 4.9 2 1.8 Hank Thompson
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. .272 .311 .492 113 .219 .312 5.6 1 1.8 Rico Carty
Rowdy Tellez .261 .324 .500 119 .239 .293 5.8 1 1.7 Mario Valdez
Randal Grichuk .249 .297 .493 109 .245 .286 5.2 -8 1.5 Chet Lemon
Jonathan Villar .246 .312 .380 87 .134 .318 4.6 1 1.4 Len Randle
Breyvic Valera .268 .328 .390 95 .122 .287 4.5 1 1.2 Quilvio Veras
Derek Fisher .228 .320 .444 105 .216 .303 4.9 2 1.1 Sandy Amoros
Jonathan Davis .214 .299 .357 78 .143 .279 3.8 3 0.7 Lance Blankenship
Joe Panik .252 .326 .362 87 .109 .277 4.3 -2 0.6 Dan Rohn
Riley Adams .205 .285 .332 68 .128 .302 3.2 5 0.6 Lou Marson
Santiago Espinal .242 .288 .343 71 .101 .289 3.4 7 0.4 Charlie Montoyo
Kevin Smith .207 .249 .390 70 .183 .277 3.4 4 0.4 Dick Schofield
Reese McGuire .222 .276 .370 74 .149 .258 3.6 1 0.3 Scott Hatteberg
Brandon Drury .223 .278 .366 73 .142 .276 3.5 1 0.0 Paul Schaal
Josh Palacios .214 .282 .336 68 .123 .291 3.2 2 -0.2 Jim Gosger
Caleb Joseph .213 .257 .349 63 .137 .269 3.1 -1 -0.2 Rick Cerone
Nick Podkul .201 .284 .316 63 .115 .250 3.1 0 -0.4 Richard Slavik
Ryan Noda .184 .300 .345 75 .160 .293 3.5 1 -0.5 Doug Snyder
Forrest Wall .217 .285 .350 72 .134 .298 3.4 -3 -0.5 Rich Becker
Samad Taylor .188 .262 .346 64 .158 .263 2.8 1 -0.7 Ralph Milliard
Chavez Young .209 .263 .328 59 .119 .276 2.8 3 -0.8 Stan Javier
Christopher Bec .191 .271 .288 53 .097 .259 3.0 -7 -1.0 Sean McCraw
Cullen Large .213 .276 .314 60 .101 .313 3.0 -2 -1.0 Wayne Garrett
Brock Lundquist .200 .272 .340 65 .139 .278 3.0 1 -1.1 Brian Finley
Mac James .206 .265 .266 46 .060 .261 2.2 -3 -1.1 Chris Tremie
Logan Warmoth .184 .248 .261 39 .076 .285 2.3 3 -1.4 James Guerrero
Gabriel Guerrero .234 .262 .379 71 .145 .299 3.4 -6 -1.7 Shane Mack

Pitchers – Standard
Player T Age W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO FIP
Hyun-jin Ryu L 34 10 6 3.58 25 24 138.3 133 55 19 28 133 3.71
Robbie Ray L 29 10 8 4.15 30 29 151.7 124 70 24 80 208 4.18
Nate Pearson R 24 6 4 4.00 24 24 99.0 92 44 14 33 107 4.01
Taijuan Walker R 28 7 5 4.41 20 20 100.0 101 49 15 36 86 4.67
Trent Thornton R 27 7 6 4.62 24 22 117.0 120 60 18 36 109 4.37
Ross Stripling R 31 6 5 4.38 32 16 98.7 100 48 17 26 98 4.25
Simeon Woods Richardson R 20 12 11 4.90 24 24 141.3 146 77 21 58 117 4.81
Tanner Roark R 34 8 8 4.93 26 25 133.3 140 73 24 44 121 4.88
Chase Anderson R 33 6 5 4.85 26 23 115.0 113 62 23 40 107 5.12
Ryan Borucki L 27 7 6 4.77 30 17 103.7 105 55 15 42 90 4.66
Jacob Waguespack R 27 6 6 4.81 29 17 103.0 105 55 14 47 89 4.76
Rafael Dolis R 33 5 3 3.51 54 0 51.3 44 20 5 22 56 3.73
Ken Giles R 30 3 1 3.18 47 0 45.3 36 16 6 14 63 3.11
Shun Yamaguchi R 33 7 7 5.00 27 16 113.3 108 63 20 54 125 4.86
Anthony Kay L 26 8 8 5.09 29 20 115.0 115 65 17 60 108 4.95
Sean Reid-Foley R 25 7 7 5.05 28 22 112.3 106 63 17 70 117 5.07
Thomas Hatch R 26 8 8 5.14 31 21 112.0 117 64 17 51 97 4.95
Joey Murray R 24 9 10 5.23 28 25 125.7 128 73 22 59 114 5.24
Patrick Murphy R 26 5 5 4.91 20 17 88.0 91 48 11 39 69 4.74
Matt Shoemaker R 34 3 3 4.71 11 11 57.3 55 30 11 19 55 4.85
A.J. Cole R 29 5 5 4.81 42 10 86.0 87 46 15 34 86 4.74
Julian Merryweather R 29 4 4 5.06 18 15 74.7 80 42 13 26 64 4.93
Jordan Romano R 28 3 2 4.07 49 0 48.7 43 22 8 18 57 4.27
Graham Spraker R 26 5 5 5.19 23 16 93.7 106 54 14 33 58 5.13
Anthony Bass R 33 4 3 4.37 49 2 55.7 54 27 7 19 49 4.19
Curtis Taylor R 25 4 3 4.50 33 3 56.0 54 28 8 25 55 4.57
Yennsy Diaz R 24 9 10 5.51 26 24 129.0 142 79 21 61 92 5.45
Jake Fishman L 26 1 0 4.38 44 0 61.7 62 30 9 18 56 4.28
Kirby Snead L 26 6 4 4.40 51 0 61.3 58 30 6 31 56 4.29
Sam Gaviglio R 31 3 2 4.43 46 0 63.0 63 31 9 18 54 4.32
Brad Wilson R 24 4 3 4.45 42 0 54.7 53 27 7 22 53 4.28
Ty Tice R 24 4 4 4.48 50 0 60.3 57 30 7 34 59 4.57
Justin Dillon R 27 6 7 5.51 23 17 99.7 114 61 18 34 66 5.41
T.J. Zeuch R 25 5 6 5.64 19 17 97.3 111 61 17 37 58 5.52
Conor Fisk R 29 4 5 5.27 41 8 82.0 89 48 15 28 65 5.18
Connor Overton R 27 1 1 5.06 16 1 32.0 33 18 4 15 26 4.68
Hector Perez R 25 4 5 5.75 21 18 87.7 91 56 13 64 79 5.67
Dany Jiménez R 27 4 4 4.89 35 0 46.0 43 25 8 24 54 4.85
Zach Jackson R 26 4 4 4.93 48 0 65.7 63 36 9 36 64 4.79
Elvis Luciano R 21 2 3 5.60 24 3 45.0 47 28 7 29 37 5.76
Ryan Dull R 31 3 3 5.20 47 0 55.3 57 32 12 18 59 4.95
Zach Logue L 25 5 7 6.05 22 20 105.7 124 71 23 41 73 5.96
Bryan Baker R 26 4 5 5.79 49 0 51.3 49 33 9 42 60 5.75
Willy Ortiz R 25 3 5 6.63 17 8 58.3 68 43 13 34 43 6.56
Mike Ellenbest R 26 3 6 7.23 25 12 74.7 92 60 18 49 47 7.22

Pitchers – Advanced
Player K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BB% K% BABIP ERA+ ERA- WAR No. 1 Comp
Hyun-jin Ryu 8.7 1.8 1.2 4.9% 23.4% .295 126 80 3.1 Herb Pennock
Robbie Ray 12.3 4.7 1.4 12.2% 31.7% .295 108 92 2.5 Al Leiter
Nate Pearson 9.7 3.0 1.3 7.8% 25.4% .298 112 89 1.8 Jim Palmer
Taijuan Walker 7.7 3.2 1.4 8.3% 19.7% .294 102 98 1.4 Bob Porterfield
Trent Thornton 8.4 2.8 1.4 7.1% 21.6% .304 97 103 1.4 Lary Sorensen
Ross Stripling 8.9 2.4 1.6 6.3% 23.6% .303 103 97 1.2 Elmer Dessens
Simeon Woods Richardson 7.5 3.7 1.3 9.3% 18.8% .296 92 109 1.2 Mike Mills
Tanner Roark 8.2 3.0 1.6 7.5% 20.8% .301 91 110 1.1 Bill Lee
Chase Anderson 8.4 3.1 1.8 8.1% 21.6% .281 93 108 1.0 Armando Reynoso
Ryan Borucki 7.8 3.6 1.3 9.3% 19.8% .297 94 106 1.0 Andy Hassler
Jacob Waguespack 7.8 4.1 1.2 10.2% 19.3% .299 94 107 0.9 Don Stanhouse
Rafael Dolis 9.8 3.9 0.9 10.0% 25.5% .291 128 78 0.8 Jim Hughes
Ken Giles 12.5 2.8 1.2 7.6% 34.1% .297 142 71 0.8 Greg McMichael
Shun Yamaguchi 9.9 4.3 1.6 10.8% 25.0% .297 90 111 0.8 Bobby Munoz
Anthony Kay 8.5 4.7 1.3 11.6% 20.8% .300 88 113 0.8 Bill Wight
Sean Reid-Foley 9.4 5.6 1.4 13.7% 22.9% .295 89 112 0.7 Dick Ruthven
Thomas Hatch 7.8 4.1 1.4 10.2% 19.3% .302 87 114 0.7 Sean White
Joey Murray 8.2 4.2 1.6 10.5% 20.2% .294 86 116 0.6 Robert Averette
Patrick Murphy 7.1 4.0 1.1 9.9% 17.6% .299 92 109 0.6 Steve Arlin
Matt Shoemaker 8.6 3.0 1.7 7.8% 22.5% .280 95 105 0.6 Mark Portugal
A.J. Cole 9.0 3.6 1.6 9.0% 22.9% .303 93 107 0.6 Rick Lysander
Julian Merryweather 7.7 3.1 1.6 7.9% 19.5% .302 89 113 0.6 Kyle Snyder
Jordan Romano 10.5 3.3 1.5 8.7% 27.5% .289 111 90 0.5 Mike Perez
Graham Spraker 5.6 3.2 1.3 7.9% 13.9% .300 87 115 0.5 Ed Linke
Anthony Bass 7.9 3.1 1.1 8.0% 20.6% .292 103 97 0.4 Tom Timmermann
Curtis Taylor 8.8 4.0 1.3 10.2% 22.4% .297 100 100 0.4 Ray Herbert
Yennsy Diaz 6.4 4.3 1.5 10.4% 15.7% .298 82 123 0.3 Jake Dittler
Jake Fishman 8.2 2.6 1.3 6.8% 21.2% .298 103 97 0.3 Steve Sharts
Kirby Snead 8.2 4.5 0.9 11.4% 20.6% .295 102 98 0.2 Mike Cosgrove
Sam Gaviglio 7.7 2.6 1.3 6.7% 20.1% .293 102 99 0.2 Ron Taylor
Brad Wilson 8.7 3.6 1.2 9.2% 22.3% .301 101 99 0.2 Ray Herbert
Ty Tice 8.8 5.1 1.0 12.5% 21.8% .298 100 100 0.2 Sam Nahem
Justin Dillon 6.0 3.1 1.6 7.6% 14.8% .299 82 123 0.2 Steve Lemke
T.J. Zeuch 5.4 3.4 1.6 8.5% 13.3% .294 80 125 0.1 Mark Cahill
Conor Fisk 7.1 3.1 1.6 7.7% 18.0% .297 85 117 0.1 Bill Fischer
Connor Overton 7.3 4.2 1.1 10.5% 18.2% .299 89 113 0.0 Bill Zuber
Hector Perez 8.1 6.6 1.3 15.3% 18.9% .305 78 128 0.0 Rich Dorman
Dany Jiménez 10.6 4.7 1.6 11.7% 26.3% .302 92 109 -0.1 Paul Schneider
Zach Jackson 8.8 4.9 1.2 12.2% 21.8% .297 91 110 -0.1 Joe Hudson
Elvis Luciano 7.4 5.8 1.4 13.7% 17.5% .296 80 125 -0.2 Cuddles Marshall
Ryan Dull 9.6 2.9 2.0 7.5% 24.7% .304 86 116 -0.3 Chuck Crim
Zach Logue 6.2 3.5 2.0 8.5% 15.2% .300 74 135 -0.4 Jason Cromer
Bryan Baker 10.5 7.4 1.6 17.1% 24.5% .305 78 129 -0.6 Jeff Smith
Willy Ortiz 6.6 5.2 2.0 12.3% 15.5% .301 68 148 -0.6 Julian Leyva
Mike Ellenbest 5.7 5.9 2.2 13.5% 12.9% .302 62 161 -1.3 Dallas Trahern

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned, players who will miss 2021 due to injury, and players who were released in 2020. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in August to form a Finnish industrial death metal fourth-wave ska J-pop band, he’s still listed here intentionally.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR, which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in the full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR. ZiPS is assuming that the designated hitter will continue in force in 2021; if it does not, there will be widespread minor adjustments across the board come April.

ZiPS is agnostic about future playing time by design. For more information about ZiPS, please refer to this article, or get angry at Dan on Twitter or something.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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Cave Dameron
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Cave Dameron

What is Vlad Jr.’s projected weight?

Menthol
Member
Member
Menthol

He’s heavy, but his xWEIGHT indicates that was mostly a product of small sample size and regression is imminent.

SucramRenrut
Member
Member
SucramRenrut

-30 optimistically

bohknowsbmore
Member
bohknowsbmore

The weight and conditioning concerns definitely cut against some of the optimism granted due to youth. That this is already a problem suggest a counterpoint to statements like this:

“ Guerrero’s raw stats in the majors haven’t been mind-blowing by any stretch of the imagination, but he also doesn’t turn 22 until just before the start of the season.”

dwigt2
Member
dwigt2

He has lost a lot of weight this offseason, allegedly. He still looks overweight though, so let’s see what he’s done by spring.