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Oh Canada, our neighbors from the north. The Jays once again finished 3rd in the AL East behind the Sox and Yankees. This is no longer the franchise from the glory days of the early 90′s but there is most definitely some pure talent in this lineup. Of course the notion that Toronto can overcome Boston and New York in the standings is just completely ridiculous. Are there any Blue Jays that can help your fantasy team overcome the odds and bring you to the promise land? Well, in no particular order, here are the major players you should target on draft day.
Alex Rios, OF: Rios has just been waiting to burst and this year just may be it. He has been improving every year starting with his almost breakout year in 2006 (Rios was on SportsofBoston’s KC’s fantasy team in 2006 and KC takes full blame for cutting his season short). In 2007 Rios hit 24 HR and drove in 85 to compliment his .297 AVG and 17 steals. All signs are pointing to another jump in the numbers. He also just turned 27, and as we all know, the number 27 is the magic number for a fantasy player.
Pete’s Prediction: 112 R, .303 AVG, 29 HR, 97 RBI, 20 SB
Vernon Wells, OF: Don’t write Wells off just yet. The important thing to remember is that he is still only 29 and has plenty of good days ahead. Last year he battled a shoulder problem all season and required surgery. He has arrived at camp reporting that the shoulder is near 100 percent. In 2006 Wells had 32 HR and 106 RBI and he has at least 23 homers in every year in the majors (except last season of course). If he stays healthy, then we can expect exceptional numbers.
Pete’s Prediction: 93 R, .289 AVG, 31 HR, 101 RBI, 9 SB
Frank Thomas, DH: Thomas enters the season at age 40. The age has not seemed to slow him down much. Last season he had 26 home runs and 95 RBI. I do throw out a word of caution. The Big Hurt’s career average indoors is .279 which is well below his career average of .303. When he played for Oakland in 2006, he had 39 homers, so the move to an indoor stadium effected his play. If you want to take the gamble on this aging future hall of famer then go ahead, but I advise going elsewhere for your power source.
Pete’s Prediction: 60 R, .272 AVG, 25 HR, 92 RBI, 0 SB
Roy Halladay, SP: The Blue Jay rotation has one of the strongest anchors in the AL East. Halladay is a model of consistency, you know what you are getting yourself into when you draft him. He is an innings workhorse with a good ERA. In 4 of his last 6 seasons, Halladay has thrown over 220 innings (the exceptions being 2004 and 2005 where he battled injuries). The former Cy Young winner looks to be the ace of this staff for another season. He wont strike out a lot of batters anymore but he is durable and will get you the wins you need without sacrificing ERA.
Pete’s Prediction: 17 W, 3.40 ERA, 140 K
A.J. Burnett, SP: I have to be honest, I don’t see the attraction. Burnett has only started 30 or more games twice in his career and he is always injured. On top of that his career high in wins is only 12. You can make the argument that he does give you good strikeout totals. This is true but, if you combine that with low wins and a problem controlling walks then you have a pitcher who is over rated. Draft for the K’s if you need them but don’t rely on much else.
Pete’s Prediction: 11 W, 3.80 ERA, 170 K
B.J. Ryan, RP: He’s baaaaaaaaaack. Ryan’s season was cut short in 2007 due to Tommy John surgery. All signs point to Ryan being ready for opening day. Don’t let the elbow scare you off, Ryan is one of the game’s elite closers. In 2006 he had 38 saves for Toronto and a ridiculous 1.37 ERA. With Ryan you get a microscopic ERA and plenty of saves. He may fall a bit on draft day due to elbow concerns but let everyone else’s worries be your gift.
Pete’s Prediction: 3 W, 2.06 ERA, 98 K, 36 SV
OTHERS OF NOTE
Lyle Overbay, 1B: Overbay was having an abysmal season before and after his injury. His .240 average was very unlike him. It wasn’t just average, Overbay’s numbers were down in every offensive category. Whatever the problem was, I am confident he can bounce back. Moving to the AL wasn’t the problem as evident by his 2006 season. Expect typical numbers he has always put up, but be cautious if you think the hand injury will linger.
Pete’s Prediction: 80 R, .287 AVG, 18 HR, 81 RBI, 2 SB
Scott Rolen, 3B: Traded for Troy Glaus in the off-season, Glaus is now the everyday 3B for Toronto and rejoins fellow teammate David Eckstein. Rolen has battled shoulder injuries for the past few season and this explains his line from last season which was .265 AVG, 8 HR, and 58 RBI in only 112 games. Rolen took batting practice and said he has felt better than he has in the past 4 years. If you want to take a risk and take this as a sign, then be my guest. You should also note that Rolen will have an indoor stadium as his home park for the first time in his career AND he is moving to the AL for the first time. All these variables are too risky for my taste.
Pete’s Prediction: 79 R, .276 AVG, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 1 SB
Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch, and Jeremy Accardo, SP/RP: Due to injuries in the rotation and the bullpen, Toronto was able to develop their young pitching for the majority of the 2007 season. Accardo filled in for B.J. Ryan and got 30 saves with a 2.14 ERA. if anything happens to Ryan (and who knows, he is coming off of Tommy John surgery after all), Accardo can grab a few saves. McGowan, Litsch, and Marcum have a full year of starting experience under their belt and proved they can hang tough in the AL East. Those three starters can give you ERA’s in the high 3.00′s or low 4.00′s at a bargain basement price at much later rounds in your draft.
Next up: The Bronx Bombers…