5 Toronto Blue Jays Players Who Must Take Next Step to Make Playoffs
Let’s all agree that this season is over. Sure, the Toronto Blue Jays will finish their regular season schedule and then they will get to watch some entertaining playoff baseball, but as far as Blue Jays fans are concerned, this one is over.
But, as Toronto fans are used to saying, “There’s always next year." Here is the thing about next year: Unless the Blue Jays improve, next year will be exactly like this year.
In order to get better, the team needs to improve in every aspect. Their coaching, their hitting and their fielding are all on trial. Heading into the 2013 campaign, here are five Toronto Blue Jays that need to step up their game if they want to play October baseball.
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If J.P. Arencibia wants to keep his starting catcher's job next season, he has to hope for two things. The first is that Travis D’Arnaud is not healthy and does not start the season in AAA with similar numbers that he put up this year.
The second is that he better hope to improve at the plate. His .235 batting average is an improvement from last year, but it’s not quite at the level the Blue Jays need their catcher to be hitting. His 105 strikeouts were also cause for concern, as Arencibia is primarily a contact hitter that should be getting on base a lot and striking out a lot less. Plus, its not like his .277 OBP is turning any heads out there.
Arencibia enjoyed a good year this year, and it is a positive sign that he is still improving this early in his career, but if the Blue Jays want to move from an average team to a great team, those good numbers have to become great.
It’s no shock that Romero has made this list. What was supposed to be Toronto’s ace became their biggest weakness in the rotation. I’d be impressed if there was another MLB team that had their opening-day starter go on a 13-game losing streak and still make the playoffs.
Romero finished the year with career highs in earned runs, earned run average, runs, losses, WHIP, hits per game, runs per game, home runs per game and total hits. He also had career lows in wins, win-loss percentage, strikeouts and strikeouts per game. At the very least he needs to get better.
If the Blue Jays want to make the playoffs next year, they need to get Romero going. Ideally he won’t be pitching on opening day and a free agent signing or Brendan Morrow will fill that job. A serviceable Romero out of the three hole in the rotation sets the Blue Jays up to have a very good pitching staff, which is something they need if they want to make the playoffs.
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Remember Sergio Santos? That guy the Blue Jays brought in to be their undisputed closer, only to see him successfully close two games before going on the season ending disabled list?
Well all signs point to him being back next year, and if the Blue Jays want to succeed, they will need that anchor in their bullpen that they can rely on.
Playoff teams are good in a lot of areas, but one very specific category is their ability to close out close games. Hopefully the potent Toronto offense will be able to afford Santos some run support next season, and he will be able to deliver the goods.
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No one knows if Kelly Johnson will be wearing the blue and white next year, but if he is then he needs to step up.
His .224 batting average is not good enough to warrant him a spot on the field. His contributions on the field are a little more difficult to quantify, as most baseball fans know, but the best available stats right now do not bode well in his favor either.
He was below average in Total Zone Total Fielding Runs as well as the same statistic converted to a per season basis (based on 1, 200 innings). Considering Johnson's minimal production at the plate, Blue Jays fans can only hope he improves or that General Manager Alex Anthopoulos finds someone who can contribute.
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Assuming the Blue Jays bench boss stays in Toronto for the 2013 season, it will be a make-or-break year for the skipper. This year has been a write-off by almost everyone due to injuries, but next year, expectations will be higher than ever before.
Next year is a big year for everyone involved with the Blue Jays. Their fans, players and front office staff are eagerly awaiting the start of the 2013 season and their quest for playoff baseball. No one is in more danger of losing their job than John Farrell if he can’t right the ship.
Have your say in the comments. Who do you think needs to step it up in order to take the Blue Jays to the next level?