2020 Fantasy Baseball: Toronto Blue Jays Team Preview

Full fantasy baseball stat projections for Blue Jays hitters and pitchers. What to expect from Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and more.
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Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto regressed in wins (93, 89, 76, 73, and 67) in each of their past five seasons. The team has reached the playoffs twice over the previous 26 years after winning back-to-back World Series in 1992 and 1993.

From 2018 to 2019, the average age of a Blue Jays batter fell from 29.0 to 25.9 as they try to rebuild the core of their hitters. Toronto finished 23rd in runs (726), ninth in home runs (247), and 23rd in RBI (697). Even with a low ranking, they improved slightly in runs scored (693, 709, and 726) over the previous two years.

The Blue Jays still have miles to go on the pitching side. They ranked 21st in ERA (4.79) while picking up 33 saves (21st).

In the offseason, Toronto signed SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP Tanner Roark, and RP Shun Yamaguchi to their pitching staff. They added 1B Travis Shaw with the hopes that he rebounds from a poor season. The Blue Jays traded 1B Chad Spanberger for SP Chase Anderson.

In 2020, Toronto has a four-pack of young rising bats – Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel, and Vladimir Guerrero, plus some power at the backend of their starting lineup. I expect growth to the league average in runs while the power already graded well in 2019.

Even with a lead arm at the front of their rotation, the Blue Jays will be tested on most nights in starting pitching. Closer Ken Giles threw the ball great last year, but he had too much missed time due to a balky right elbow.

Starting Lineup

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1. SS Bo Bichette

Bichette played well at AAA in 2019 while flashing a 20/40 skill set if he repeated his stats over a full season. Unfortunately, three weeks into the year, he suffered a broken left hand after being hit by a pitch. He responded well after a six-week trip to the injured list.

His major league career started with an 11-game hitting streak (20-for-49 with four HRs, seven RBI, and one SB). In 46 games with Toronto, Bichette offered strength in both his AVH (1.836) and CTBA (.418). His minor league resume (.321 with 37 HRs, 217, 73 SBs over 1,302 at-bats) suggests more speed (four steals over 196 at-bats with the Blue Jays). Even with success, he did strike out too much (23.6 percent) with a below-par walk rate (6.6). His swing had the best value against left-handed pitching (.368 with four HRs and six RBI over 57 at-bats). Between AAA and the majors, his HR/FB rate came at almost 20.0 percent with a low fly ball rate (about 30.0 percent).

Bichette should get on base a minimum of 200 times in 2020, leading to a .300-plus batting average with 100-plus runs, 20-plus home runs, 75-plus RBI, and a minimum of 25 steals. His ADP in early January is 77 as the 12th shortstop off the board. Buy the batting average and speed with the hopes of hitting on a five-category stud. His season ended with nine games to go due to a concussion.

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2. 2B Cavan Biggio

After a relatively quiet first two seasons in the minors (.250 with 11 HRs, 86 RBI, and 22 SBs over 691 at-bats), Biggio flashed a 20/20 skill set in 2018 at AA (.252 with 26 HRs, 99 RBI, and 20 SBs over 449 at-bats). The next season at AAA, his approach (strikeout rate – 16.1 and walk rate – 19.5) improved, helping Biggio to an uptick in batting average (.312) with six home runs, 27 RBI, and five steals over 138 at-bats. The Blue Jays called him up on May 24th.

Biggio looked overmatched at the plate over his first 23 games (.203 with a 27.6 percent strikeout rate over 69 at-bats), but he hit five home runs while taking 17 walks (19.5 percent walk rate). After a ten-game hitting streak (14-for-40 with one HR and 11 RBI), Biggio struggled again over his next 20 games (.141 with four HRs and 16 RBI over 71 at-bats). His swing looked improved over his final 47 games (.259 with eight HRs, 22 RBI, and seven SBs over 174 at-bats) while taking 34 walks (16.1 percent walk rate), but he did strike out at a much higher rate (28.4). In the end, his walk rate (16.5) had top-of-the-order value while needing some major steps to clean up his strikeout rate (28.6). His AVH rate (1.831) points to 30-plus home runs, which is helped by his fly ball swing (47.0 percent). Biggio didn’t have an impactful HR/FB rate (14.7) in the majors.

His resume suggests he’s a hard worker who will make adjustments to improve. Biggio will have batting average risk again in 2020, but he could score 100-plus runs with 25-plus home runs and 20-plus steals. With an ADP of 133, I expect him to be a valuable piece to the puzzle (only nine players in baseball had a 20/20 season in 2019 with each player ranking in the top 50 in SIscore for hitters). Biggio is currently the 89th batter off the board.

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3. 3B Vladimir Guerrero

With baseball turning into a home run contest in 2019, Guerrero failed to showcase impact power or hit for a high average when making contact. His approach graded well (strikeout rate – 17.7 and walk rate 9.0), but he was unable to match his minor league levels of 2018 in AVH (1.669 – 1.595 in 2019) or CTBA (.426 - .338). Guerrero has a tough time with left-handed pitching (.215 with four HRs and 15 RBI over 130 at-bats).

His season started in AAA (.367 with three HRs and eight RBI over 30 at-bats) due to an early-season oblique issue. The Blue Jays gave him over 100 plate appearances in each of the next four months, which led to an improvement in batting average each month (.253, .255, .284, and .314). Guerrero had the most production in July (16 runs, three HRs, and 20 RBI over 88 at-bats). Late in the year, he battled a left knee injury that led to a poor September (.232 with 5/0/10 over 82 at-bats), and no home runs over his final 118 trips to the plate. Over the last ten days of the seasons, he also had rib and right knee issues. His hard-hit rate (38.4) ranked 199th in the majors with a high ground ball rate (49.6) and no edge in his HR/FB rate (12.1).

With an ADP of 55 as the 6th third basemen off the board, I’m going to need to see more before paying up in drafts. Guerrero will make much better contact with the hands to hit for a plus average. His power should be explosive when it comes. He’s a big-bodied player who can get nicked up. Possible edge in batting average with an 85/25/90 skill set in 2020.

4. OF Lourdes Gurriel

The Blue Jays gave Gurriel a short leash in April, which led to a trip to AAA after just 13 games (.175 with no HRs and seven RBI over 40 at-bats). After a month at AAA (.276 with four HRs and 26 RBI over 123 at-bats), Gurriel was a new man when called back up to the majors. From May 24th to July 21st, he hit .315 with 40 runs, 18 HRs, and 37 RBI.

His downward correction came over the next three weeks (.222 with one HR and three RBI over 54 at-bats). A quad injury cost him another five weeks, and his season ended a week early with an appendix issue. Over two years with Toronto, Gurriel had what amounts to about a full season of at-bats (.279 with 82 runs, 31 HRs, 85 RBI, and seven SBs). His strikeout rate (25.1) is too high and he has weakness in his walk rate (5.8). He had a hard-hit rate of 44.8 percent (63rd) with a rising HR/FB rate (20.2). Last year Gurriel did add more loft to his swing (42.9 – 33.2 in 2018).

He is turning into a pure power hitter with his downside tied to his ability to stay healthy and make contact. With an ADP of 167, he should be an asset in power with a shot at neutral value in the other four categories.

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5. 3B Travis Shaw

Last year, Shaw created a huge hole in fantasy lineups after losing his feel at the plate. His CTBA (.255) had major regression for the second straight season (.368 in 2017 and .308 in 2018). His lost confidence shined brightly when looking at his measly RBI rate (5 – 18 in 2017 and 15 in 2018). After setting a career-best in his strikeout rate (18.4) in 2018, Shaw almost doubled his strikeout rate in 2019 (33.0). The Brewers gave him 40 games to prove his worth, which led to .163 batting average over 135 at-bats with 11 runs, four HRs, eight RBI, and 50 Ks.

He hit better at AAA (.286 with 12 HRs and 33 RBI over 133 at-bats), but Shaw failed to regain his form in the majors (.147 with three HRs, eight RBI, and 39 Ks over 95 at-bats). His ADP fell to 404 in the early draft season, which makes him a bench flier in deep leagues. With a winter to clear his bad thoughts, Shaw should rebound this year, but he may be relegated to a platoon role due to his career risk vs. lefties (.221 with 16 HRs and 485 at-bats). 

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READ MORE: 2020 Toronto Blue Jays Team Outlook

Pitching Staff

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SP1 Hyun-Jin Ryu

I get that Ryu has been elite over his last 44 starts (21-8 with 2.21 ERA and 252 Ks over 265 innings), but he hasn’t been $80 million good. Toronto desperately needed to rebuild their pitching staff to make a push in the AL East standings. They placed their bet on Ryu, which makes me think of a line a friend of mine uses about professional players:

“If you weren’t at the wedding, it doesn’t make sense to be at his funeral”.

In other words, don’t chase a player’s stats after a career year, especially when adding in his age (33 at the start of the year). Ryu’s walk rate (1.2) was a league-best in 2019, with some fade in his strikeout rate (8.0 – 9.7 in 2018). His arm has the most value against lefties (.199 with six HRs over 171 at-bats). Ryu had an ERA under 3.00 in every month last season except August (18 runs, 32 baserunners, and five home runs over 21.2 innings). His AFB (91.0) isn’t great, but batters hit .228 vs. his four-seamer. He has a plus changeup (.191 BAA) and curveball (.190 BAA) with questions about his sinker (.333 BAA) and cutter (.285 BAA). He’ll induce a high number of ground balls (50.4 percent) with a low fly-ball rate (25.4). Ryu does allow a high HR/FB rate (13.0). Based on 2019 stats, Ryu will draw attention in drafts (ADP – 110). I fear the AL East smaller ballparks. At best, 12 wins with a 3.50 ERA and 150 Ks.

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SP2 Chase Anderson

Anderson gave the Brewers some good innings for four seasons (38-27 with a 3.83 ERA and 505 Ks over 590 innings), highlighted by his 2017 season (12-4 with 2.74 ERA and 133 Ks over 141.1 innings). Last year, his first start didn’t come until April 20th, which led to him being dumped in some leagues due to poor innings out of the bullpen (5.19 ERA with three HRs allowed over 8.2 innings).

After two starts, he landed on the injured list for three weeks with a blister on his pitching hand. Anderson had a 3.71 ERA and 85 Ks over his first 19 starts covering 94.2 innings. Unfortunately, the Brewers let him take a massive beating on August 18th (ten runs and 11 baserunners over 2.1 innings) crushing his gains. He didn’t have one game in 2019 with over six innings pitched. Anderson struggled to get right-handed batters out (.280 with 17 HRs over 293 at-bats), which could be a bad sign for this season. His AFB (93.6) is league average while offering a plus changeup (1.87 BAA) and winning cutter (.182 BAA).

Not a disaster with some upside if he throws more strikes, but Anderson does takes a hit in value this draft season. Only a waiver wire double starter option if he’s in good form with a chance to be a buy and hold.

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CL/RP Ken Giles

Giles threw the great for most of 2019, but he had too many stretches with no innings pitched (15, 13, and 16 days between appearances) due to a battle with right elbow soreness. Giles converted 23 of his 24 save chances with his best ERA (1.87) since 2015 (1.80). He also set a career-high in his strikeout rate (14.1) while his walk rate (2.9) came in just above his career average (2.7). Giles dominated both righties (.202 BAA) and lefties (.174 BAA) with his best value coming at home (0.87 ERA and 47 Ks over 31 innings). His AFB (97.2) remained elite, but it came in as a career-low. Giles gains his edge from a plus slider (.124 BAA), which accounted for 60 of his 83 strikeouts. Only once in his career has he had more than 26 saves (34 in 2017). 

Giles has an ADP of 137, which prices in his questionable right elbow. A hot and cold arm that has 40-save upside with a chance at 100-plus Ks with 65 innings pitched. 

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Use coupon code EDGE25 to receive 25% off your monthly season-long subscription. Shawn Childs is a 5-time high-stakes fantasy baseball national champ. Gain a cash-winning edge with FullTime Fantasy.

READ MORE: 2020 Toronto Blue Jays Team Outlook

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