The Toronto Blue Jays are, without a doubt, one of the most exciting teams in baseball.
After a month and a half of action, they are 23-17, firmly in second place of the tough American League East division, half a game behind the leaders, the Boston Red Sox.
Toronto is half a game above the Tampa Bay Rays and one game above the New York Yankees in a hotly contested division.
Before the season, everybody wrote down the Yankees as virtual locks to take the AL East.
But now, after a few weeks of baseball, we have seen what Toronto is capable of.
Could they win the division? Do they have what it takes?
It some specific things go right, they have a chance.
Here is why the Blue Jays can shock the world and win the AL East.
3. They Are at Striking Distance
Some teams with playoff aspirations, like the Minnesota Twins, the Los Angeles Angels, and even the Washington Nationals, have fallen in huge holes in the early going.
It’s still early, so they could theoretically fight back, but it’s an uphill battle now.
For the Jays, though, that’s not the case because they are firmly in the race, at striking distance of the division lead.
Their 23-17 record before Wednesday’s games is a nice surprise, but even if Toronto has certainly raised some eyebrows, their good performance isn’t all that shocking.
They are a talented ball club that started to make some noise last season, led by a talented young core.
2. They Have A Formidable Offense, Led By Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The Blue Jays have the fifth-best offense in the American League and the seventh-best in all baseball, with a 105 wRC+.
Weighted Runs Created Plus allows us to determine whether an offensive performer or team is above or below average, with the ‘average’ number being 100.
Toronto’s 105 wRC+ is higher than the Yankees, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, and other good offenses.
Toronto has a strong young core of hitters, led by a budding star: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vladdy Jr. has made the leap and increased his average launch angle, hitting considerably more home runs in the process and increasing his offensive output.
As of Wednesday morning, Guerrero is hitting .329/.445/.615 with 11 home runs and a whopping 190 wRC+.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays (8)
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) May 12, 2021
Not too far behind is Bo Bichette, a budding start at shortstop.
Bichette is hitting .274/.322/.494, with nine homers and seven stolen bases.
And if that isn’t enough, the great George Springer should return from injury within the next couple of weeks.
1. Pitching Help is on the Way
But there is always the possibility of getting help around the deadline.
Toronto could be an ace away from upsetting the Yankees and Rays, and there could be aces available at the deadline.
Even if Toronto isn’t able to nab a top pitcher come July, help is on the way.
Alek Manoah, Wicked Changeup and Slider.
Filmed with a potato. pic.twitter.com/Pi9UBXolEM
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 14, 2021
Those three are among the most talented arms in professional baseball.
Manoah and Woods-Richardson are prospects, while Pearson has already seen action with the big club.
In short: Don’t count out the Blue Jays.