They play in arguably baseball's toughest division.
They had three All-Stars in 2010.
They've won two World Series in their history.
But does any of that matter?
The Jays play in a different country, have no superstars that the American public is familiar with, and continually battle the other AL East birds for fourth place in the division.
The Blue Jays have one of the youngest teams in baseball with tremendous pitching depth, incredible offensive potential, and Gold Glove defense. But the Jays fly under the radar of the average baseball fan.
The following are ten reasons why baseball fans should pay more attention to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays are in the midst of on of the most unique management phases in their history. Alex Anthopoulos took over the role of General Manager following the firing of JP Riccardi and is going through his first season as GM. He knows how people had been calling for Riccardi's head for years. He knows that Jays fans want a winning team, one that can compete with the Big three in the AL East. With the upcoming 2010 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline approaching, will Anthopolous be a buyer or seller?
Except for two seasons in the late 1990s, Cito Gaston has been involved with the Blue Jays in some capacity since 1982. Although he never played a game for the Jays, he is one of the most popular men to ever wear a Jays uniform and has always been a fan favourite. 2010 will be his last season managing. There are many individuals who aren't managing right now or who are entering into the final year of their contracts (Fredi Gonzalez, Dusty Baker, Trey Hillman, AJ Hinch, Sal Fasano...to name a few).
The Jays are a talented team and need the right man to help guide them towards the playoffs. This is a very interesting time to be a Jays fan.
Canadians dig the long ball.
In the four series that Toronto has played Baltimore, the Jays hit 24 home runs. The Orioles scored only 23 runs in those same 12 games.
With the most home runs in baseball (averaging 1.5 per game), the Majors' first 30 home run man (Bautista) and eight players with more than 10 dingers so far, the Blue Jays are clearing the fences at an unprecedented rate. Their 155 blasts leads the Majors (no metric conversion necessary).
Home runs are exciting. The Blue Jays have hit the most home runs in baseball. Therefore, the Blue Jays must play an exciting brand of baseball.
Still not convinced...
On July 28, Brad Mills was called up to spot start for the Jays against the Orioles. It was his first start of the year, third all time, and was optioned back to AAA after the game.
His line for the game he pitched: 7IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 4K, 92 pitches
Mills is just one of the members of the young Jays pitching corps. Starters Shaun Marcum (pictured), Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero are all on pace to post 10+ wins this year. Jesse Litsch has struggled to regain his form following surgery earlier this year, but has shown tremendous potential.
Marcum is the "veteran" of the staff. He's the oldest, though only 28 and is the only starter to have won over 30 games in his career.
This staff shows lots of promise for the future of the organization, something the Jays haven't had in a while.
As impressive as the starting pitching has been, Toronto has one of the better bullpens in the American League.
Scott Downs, Shawn Camp, Casey Janssen, Kevin Gregg (pictured), and Jason Frasor all have at least 30 apprearences. David Purcey's ERA is under 2.00. Gregg is fifth in the AL in saves. Downs has the lowest ERA (2.34) of any AL LH RP. He and Camp both have WHIPs around 1.10.
The pen has faced struggles this season, but like the starters, show lots of promise to close out 2010 and head into 2011.
OK, so many people know about Wells and his very large contract. Many people also know/feel that he hasn't performed up to those dollars.
2010 looks to be a different year for Vernon.
He's on pace to reach career highs in walks, doubles, and home runs and hasn't made a single error all season.
Vernon Wells has been the Jay fans hate to love, but love to hate. He's had injuries to his wrist, shoulder, and hamstring, all have which hurt his production. When healthy, which he is now, he's a dangerous offensive weapon and can play Devon White-style CF.
Even though it a Manchester United - Celtic game pictured, the view is from the third base line and says it all.
The former SkyDome was one of the first retractable roof stadiums, and one of the last multi-purpose stadiums. There isn't a bad seat in the building, tickets start at $11 for Jays games, and according to a recent ESPN poll, 0 percent of it's vendors had health violations, one of the few in North America to boast such a claim.
Besides, haven't you ever wanted to take a road trip to Canada in the summer? You can bump into a Canadian, and chances are, they'll apologize to you!
The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are all teams that the Jays must overcome in order to win an AL East Pennant. At the time of writing this article, the Jays are closer to catching Boston than the Sox are to catching the Rays (5.0 GB to 5.5 GB).
As each of those three teams attempt to win the division, as it stands, the second place team will win the Wild Card.
Toronto has nine games left with Tampa, nine with Boston and 12 against the Yankees. Against those three teams, the Jays are 8-17.
Why should you care about the Jays? Because they're a tough team to play, and your team, which is trying to make the playoffs, plays them a lot.
Ricky Romero, pictured, is just one of the many young talents that the Jays hope to develop in the next few seasons.
Travis Snider, Brad Mills, Mark Rzepczynski, Adeiny Hechavarria, Brett Wallace, Kyle Drabek, JP Arencibia, Jarrett Hoffpauir, and Adam Loewen are all names you might have heard a bit about before. They are all a part of a very deep minor league system that the Blue Jays possess. Developing a strong core of young players internally has proven successful in recent years for Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Boston, to name a few. Toronto hopes to do the same.
If there was an award for "Biggest Surprise of the Year," Bautista would have won it in June.
Jose Bautista has only had 400 or more at-bats in a season twice. He never hit more than 16 home runs in a year, never had more than 63 RBIs, never slugged over .420 andhas broken 200 total bases once in his career.
He's leading the AL in homers (30) and is fifth in RBIs(75), both of which are career highs. He's slugging .585! It's only July!
He's on pace to set career highs in games played, at-bats, total bases, hits, doubles, triples, extra base hits, walks, runs, OBP, SLG, AVG.
He's made the most of his opportunity to play every day, and might even garner, dare I say, some votes for MVP.
Why is the trade deadline the biggest reason to pay attention to the Toronto Blue Jays?
Quite simple, really.
The Blue Jays, to no one's real surprise, are probably not going to be invited to the postseason dance. But your team might...
Scott Downs (pictured), Lyle Overbay, Jose Bautista and Kevin Gregg are all Blue Jays whose names have been circulating in the rumour mill recently. With the trade deadline fast approaching, one of these men could help your team tremendously.
Or, Anthopolous could be a buyer and build for the future, which could make baseball's toughest division even tougher.
The Jays have long been an after thought among many baseball fans.
This year has proven different for Canada's lone MLB franchise. Star players are emerging. Management is taking the ball club in new directions. New talent is waiting in AA and AAA. Most importantly, people are starting to talk about the Jays in a positive light.
The future looks great.
OK, Blue Jays...let's...play...ball!