When Theo Epstein took over the Boston Red Sox at age 28, everyone wondered what in the heck they were thinking. A scant 10 years later, young GMs are all the rage. Jon Daniels is commanding the ship of baseball's two time AL pennant winners. Josh Byrnes was in charge in Arizona and is in charge again in San Diego. Jed Hoyer went from San Diego to take charge with Epstein in Chicago.
The two brightest bulbs might still be in the AL East. Andrew Friedman led the Rays to another unlikely playoff berth this year, and Alex Anthopoulos led the Blue Jays out of salary hell and back into position to contend. Yet, we need to hold off slapping his back quite yet. Yes, he shed some bad contracts, but the pitching and defense is lagging behind the offense.
Defense Efficiency Rating: .693 (17th)
Runs Allowed: 761 (25th)
Fielding Percentage: .982 (24th)
Baseball Reference: +18 runs (12th)
Fangraphs: -12.0 runs (19th)
Fielding Bible: +22 runs (9th)
Baseball Prospectus: +3.8 runs (11th)
Composite Runs: +7.9 runs
When the DER lags behind the fielding metrics we have a couple of plausible explanations. First, the Blue Jays obviously struggled on the mound. So, it makes sense that they would surrender more line drives that would be difficult to field. The fielding metrics are not going to penalize fielders on balls that most fielders would not field cleanly.
That being said, Anthopoulos threw fielding to the wind when he traded Aaron Hill for Kelly Johnson and when he acquired Colby Rasmus. So, it remains to be seen where he is headed in this regard. Fielding might end up being their Achilles heel.
It was short, but Brett Lawrie impressed everyone with his bat and glove. He would have been on pace to win the Gold Glove had he played the entire season in Toronto. Of course, good fielding can be a mirage like good hitting, but this guy looks like the real deal.
This is a hard one and when you say that you know it's not a pretty sight. Given the importance of the position, we will have to go with J.P. Arencibia. Mind you, you could just as easily go with Rajai Davis in the outfield, but catchers are an important part of the defense and Arencibia is still very young.
Kelly Johnson is likely going to be let go at second base at least to test free agency. He may or may not come back. The Blue Jays could also be looking to upgrade their first base and left field situations as well. Anthopoulos has shown he is a shrewd trader, so stay tuned.
The moves to pick up Kelly Johnson and Colby Rasmus were risks, but they could pay huge dividends at the plate. Unfortunately, they won't do much to help the fielding situation. The Blue Jays will likely be a middle of the pack defense again.