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Getting the Blue Jays to 89 wins in 2020 using Fangraphs projections

The baseball offseason sucks, in no part thanks to the fact that Free Agents take forever to sign. Let's make up our own offseason, with blackjack and hookers.
Preamble:
  • The Blue Jays payroll, according to RosterResource stands at $70,452,571. The luxury tax threshold stands at who gives a shit, because we're literally never gonna come close to it. I'll be operating under the assumption that we have the same payroll as opening day last season (around $115 million), so needless to say, we have plenty of money to play with.
  • The trade market is unpredictable. I won't be predicting any trades and will be strictly focusing on adding value to this team through free agency.
  • I'll be using Fangraph projections for players next season for both our core of players and upcoming free agents.
  • I'll be using the MLBTradeRumors Top Free Agents with Predictions article to estimate the salary and years for the free agents I add. Tim Dierkes takes a great empirical approach to these predictions, and even if the destinations of the free agents proves to be inaccurate, the value of the contracts they get are incredibly close more often than not.
  • This is entirely for fun, came to pass due to sheer boredom at work, and supposed to be taken lightly. Please keep that in mind before hitting the submit button on a comment that is supposed to be critical on the offseason moves (i.e. why would Anthony RenColeburg ever come to Toronto!?!?!!?!?)

C

Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire
2020 Proj WAR: 3.7 fWAR, combined
Salary: Pre-Arb ($550,000), each
I'm struggling to think of a catching tandem that could provinde more surplus value for any team given their cost. Jansen made great leaps defensively being nominated for a Gold Glove, but taking a step back offensively. Look for him to rebound to a respectable offensive level.
McGuire was the opposite. Known through the scouts as a defense first catcher, he's proven he can hit the majors, in a small sample size.
Either way, given the cost and the production they could provide, this one of the best catching tandems in the majors.

1B

Cavan Biggio
2020 Proj WAR: 2.4 fWAR
Salary: Pre-Arb ($550,000)
Keith Law HATES him. Click here to learn how Cavan Biggio put up a .364 OBP and 2.4 WAR in 100 games in his rookie season. Biggio will look to repeat, if not exceed, the value he provided in 2019 where he was tremendous at getting on base for Guerrero and Gurriel. You've hopefully got your table setter swiss army guy in Biggio for the next 6 years atleast.
You may be asking yourself, Cavan Biggio at 1st? What gives? He seemed to handle himself fine at 2B, and yes he did. However, I actually think Cavan has the traditional 1B tools that you see (lefty, high OBP, good power etc.), plus I legitimately think he could be a tremendous 1B given his raw tools. It's not like he'd be a strict 1B either. He's played his fair share of other positions in the minors. I think you shift Biggio around the right side of the infield, and maybe even some OF. This is also to make room for our next free agent signing.....

2B

Mike Moustakas
2020 Proj WAR: 2.8 fWAR
Salary: $10M (Projected at 2 years/$20M)
Last time we signed a big bodied in his 30's slugger who used to play for the Kansas City Royals, it turned out not so wonderfully. The difference time time around? Moustakas isn't strictly a DH and can actually play defense. Which leads me to my next point. You may be asking yourself, hey, isn't Moustakas a 3B? Well, yes. Actually, also no. Moustakas got in 47 games at 2B for the Brewers last season and graded out average. The idea here would be that Moustakas would move around the infield and DH. Play some 2B, play some 1B while Cavan plays 2B, play some 3B when Guerrero DH's etc. and DH himself some.
The real selling point is his bat and the surplus value he'd provide relative to the cost. I'll take 2.8 WAR for $10M any year, and while the bat is not elite by any means, Moustakas has been a model of consistency since 2015, posting a 114 OPS+. The appeal here is that he puts the ball in play, doesn't strikeout much, and the hitting environment for lefties in the AL East (Yankee Std., Camden Yards) could give him even more of a boost. A notorious free swinger, he even boosted his BB% this season to a career high. Adding Moustakas to the lineup will just make it that much deeper.

SS

Bo Bichette
2020 Proj WAR: 3.3 fWAR
Salary: Pre-Arb ($550,000)
Bo's .311 batting average is unlikely to stick given his .368 BABIP (which actually, isn't that outrageous given his speed and ability to put the ball in play) and his .260 ISO is almost assuredly going to come down, but that doesn't mean Bo doesn't have a chance to be a Top 10 shortstop in the league next season. In fact, that's my bold prediction for next season. A full season of 142 OPS+ is unlikely, but 115-120 OPS+ with average defense at short and plus baserunning as a baseline is still a very, very good player to have. You stick with Bo, because he knows.

3B

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
2020 Proj WAR: 3.8 fWAR
Salary: Pre-Arb ($550,000)
Anybody else think Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a bust? How come he immediately didn't come into the league and hit .300 with 30 bombs? Well, even despite his underwhelming season, he's still projected to put up a 127 wRC+ next season because he's Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
We saw flashes where Guerrero would put up a .330/.440/.600 slashline over the course of 75 plate appearences. It's just a matter finding that during a whole season. If his offseason instagram videos are any indication, he's taking his conditioning incredibly seriously and this will surely translate to a Gold Glove at 3B next season (but I'll take average defense).

OF

(This is gonna be gross, so buckle in)
Randal Grichuk, RF
2020 Proj WAR: 1.8 fWAR
Salary: $12M
Keep Handsome Randal in RF, and hope he's closer to 2018 Grichuk where he posted 2.1 fWAR compared to 2019 where he posted 0.5. I find it hard to believe that a 28 year-old would regress to his true talent level so young, especially a large set of data indicates he's actually much better than he was. There's still a shroud of hope that he could improve his on base given his age, but it's likely going to be something small like .310 during the course of a season. Which honestly, I'll take.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr., LF
2020 Proj WAR: 1.6 fWAR
Salary: $3M
Staying healthy and consistent in LF will be the key to Gurriel's season. He did fine for his first season in the OF if you look at advanced statistics (-1.5 UZR, -2 DRS), but it is admittedly a very short sample for defense. His bat is loud though, and he posted encouraging increases in his plate discipline from his rookie season, which bodes incredibly well for somebody going into his age 26 season and who got exposed to the MLB relatively late in his career. I like the 1.6 fWAR as a conservative estimate.
Teoscar Hernandez, CF
2020 Proj WAR: 0.4 fWAR
Salary: Pre-Arb ($550,000)
In what I can only describe as the most "Teoscar Hernandez thing possible", Teo actually looked more competant in CF compared to the corners (what the fuck Teo?)
Let's play a game of "Did you know". Did you know:
Teoscar Hernandez before his demotion to AAA: 141 PA, .189/.262/.299, 47 wRC+, 9.2 BB%, 29.8 K%
Teoscar Hernandez after his call up from AAA: 323 PA, .248/.325/.548 126 wRC+, 9.9 BB%, 34.4 K%
In also the most Teoscar Hernandez thing possible, he actually did much better when he struck out more. This man makes no sense, and I'm going to stop using logic to explain him because it's going to result in me having an aneurysm. We should be happy if he's closer to the 2nd statline next season while not playing vomit-inducing CF.
Derek Fisher, 4th OF
2020 Proj WAR: 0.7 fWAR
Salary: Pre-Arb ($550,000)
/TorontoBlueJays public enemy #1. If I could use a metaphor to describe Derek Fisher it would certainly be 'balls to the wall face'.
In truth, 0.7 fWAR is perfectly serviceable as a 4th OF and its' worth keeping Fisher on the roster to see if he breaks out (we're talking about one of the best performers in the minors the last couple seasons). He has speed, and can actually play a decent enough OF according to advanced metrics.
(Before you think of hitting that enter button, just know that Fisher has been significantly better than Alford in the minors and projects significantly better than him too.)
Other bench depth: Breyvic Valera, Richard Urena, Brandon Drury, Anthony Alford, Rowdy Tellez, Billy McKinney, Jonathan Davis
2020 Proj Total WAR: 2.5 fWAR

SP

1. Dallas Keuchel, SP
2020 Proj WAR: 2.7 fWAR
Salary: $13M (Projected at 3 years/$39M)
Hey kids, remember Marcus Stroman? Yeah, he got a ton of groundballs and everyone was sad to see him go. How would you like to get him back? Well you're not going to because life sucks and then you die. Let that be a lesson to you. Instead, you'll get Dallas Keuchel who generated more groundballs and like it.
Keuchel put up a respectable 3.75 ERA in 19 starts for the Braves. Admittedly, the peripherals weren't pretty, but his appraoch to pitching translates well enough to results even if it isnt sexy. On top of that, he's a proven durable starter who's pitched 200 innings 3 times since 2014. He's not an iron man by any means, but he'll give you at least 20 starts, which is more than I can say for most Jays starters this past season. Similar to Moustakas, I love the cost-to-wins ratio here. I'll take 2.7 fWAR at $13M a year for only 3 years. You can't expect a terrible drop off here either since he'll be going into his age 32 season.
2. Kyle Gibson, SP
2020 Proj WAR: 2.9 fWAR
Salary: $9M (Projected at 2 years/$18M)
/TorontoBlueJays: Hey Shatkins, can we stop and get Jake Odorizzi?
Shatkins: No, we have Jake Odorizzi at home
Jake Odorizzi at home: Kyle Gibson
No seriously. The last two seasons, Kyle Gibson has posted better xFIP's than Jake Odorizzi. He also throws hard compared to the rest of our pitchers (then again, so do I), having an avg fb velocity of 93.4 mph. I love the bargain price, and he had a good season as recently as 2018. He has great secondaries (.225 xWOBA against his slider, .268 xWOBA against his changeup) and has pitched at least 150 innings the last 5 of his 6 seasons. Again, the key word is durability. No more Edwin Jackson (please god). Even if this rotation isn't sexy on paper, at the very least, they're proven durable starters who can stay on the field.
3. Chase Anderson, SP
2020 Proj WAR: 0.8 fWAR
Salary: $8.5M w/ team option for 2021
I like the addition, given that it cost literally nothing (sorry Chad Spanberger). Again, durability is key here. Pitched atleast 130 innings his last 5 seasons. Good K-rate, good velo that's been increasing year over year, doesn't walk many, but that homer rate may limit his success, especially in the AL East. I'll gladly take a repeat of his last season.
4. Matt Shoemaker, SP
2020 Proj WAR: 1.4 fWAR
Salary: $3.8M in arbitration (est.)
Shoemaker looked tremendous in a very short sample in 2019 before a freak injury ended his season. He adds a lot of volatility to this rotation given his injury history, but a full season of Shoemaker should produce decent results
5. Ryan Borucki, SP
2020 Proj WAR: 0.9 fWAR
Salary: Pre-Arb ($550,000)
Borucki had a great short stint in 2018 and was primed to start 2019 in the rotation, but elbow trouble caused him to basically have a lost season. Hoping we see him rebound and he can continue his development in the majors to see if he can stick.
6. Trent Thornton, SP
2020 Proj WAR: 1.4 fWAR
Salary: Pre-Arb ($550,000)
Thornton actually had a very successful rookie season under the hood. An 8.7 K/9, and 1.9 fWAR for a rookie in the AL-East is very, very good. He kept his walks in check as well, but the homers bugged him a ton which bogged down his results. He had a great September (albeit paired up with an opener), but it could've been partly attributed to Clay Bucholz. Buck and Pats "verterin presents" 1, sabermetricians 0. We can only hope that he takes step forward and get to the point where Thornton can post a 4.5 ERA over a a full season (while on paper this isn't anything special, this means on average, you can pitch a quality start of 6 innings, 3 ER).
Pitching depth: Anthony Kay, TJ Zeuch, Jacob Waguespack, Julian Merryweather, Sean Reid-Foley, Nate Pearson, Thomas Hatch
Look for some of these guys to be called up in the eventual case of injury. Most notably, Fangraphs loves Jacob Waguespack enough to give him a 0.7 fWAR projection and Julian "Sasquatch" Merryweather at 0.3 fWAR. This rotation has no true ace, but a lot of good enough mid rotation guys that if things break right, could be good enough to give our offense a winning shot every night.

Results

Again, this is incredibly rudimentary on my part and not meant to be anything incredibly analytical. WAR assumes a baseline number of wins if a team is full of 0 WAR players, and the only public number I could find for that baseline was baseball-reference which calculates it at 52. I know me using Fangraphs projections to project players and then using Baseball-References WAR's baseline is incredibly dumb, scientifically speaking, but it's the only publically available data I've got. Remember, Fangraphs WAR is actually incredibly conservative compared to bWAR, so this may turn out alright (i.e. 0.8 fWAR for Vlad vs. 2.1 bWAR for Vlad in 2019). This is simply just to check if every one plays up to projections and stays uninjured, how many expected wins we would have. I'm not gonna go through the hassle of coming up with adding the bullpen wins because bullpens are really volatile year-to-year and constantly changing during the course of the season. Instead, I'll take the bullpen WAR from last season and add it in (2.3)
Here's what the updated lineup would look like:
  1. Bo Bichette
  2. Cavan Biggio
  3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
  4. Mike Moustakas
  5. Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
  6. Randal Grichuk
  7. Teoscar Hernandez
  8. Rowdy Tellez
  9. Danny Jansen
Our starting 5 (6?) rotation is
  1. Dallas Keuchel
  2. Kyle Gibson
  3. Chase Anderson
  4. Matt Shoemaker
  5. Ryan Borucki
  6. Trent Thornton
Bullpen is Ken Giles and friends.
This teams total fWAR + the bWAR baseline wins would add up to....
(drumroll)
89 wins
Opening day payroll for this team: ~$102M, not including extra reliever signings.
Congrats. Book October off for the parade.
submitted by yoboapp to Torontobluejays

Stole everyone's idea and ran an 1871-2020 historical sim. CRAZY RESULTS INSIDE / AMA

Sorry for the click-baity title, but I just finished with an 1871-2020 historical sim that produced some interesting, and, frankly, fucking weird results so I thought I’d share here. If you have a player or team you’re curious about, let me know and I’ll tell you how they fared down in the comments below.
The Giants were technically the most successful team with 15 championships, but they were in the midst of a 27-year title drought when the sim ended and only won 5 rings since moving to San Francisco in 1958. The Orioles were next up with 12 titles, and the Reds and Twins each won 11. The Twins had the most impressive modern dynasty, winning five championships and six AL pennants in the eight years from 1989-1996.
Several teams never won a chip. No parades for the Astros, Royals, Mets, Mariners, Rays, and Blue Jays. The Mets were especially incompetent, only making the playoffs four times in their 58 years and never once appearing in the World Series. At least they don’t have to keep paying Bobby Bonilla in this universe, I guess.
The Cubs won six titles, but only two since 1901 and they ended the sim on a 66-year drought. They had a nice little Buffalo Bills run towards the end where they won the NL in 2015, 16, and 17 but came up short in the Series every year.
The most wins ever was 119 by the 2002 Orioles, who went on to win the World Series. That team was led by a powerful offense featuring Todd Helton, Bobby Abreu, and a 38-year-old Mark McGwire who hit 48 home runs.
Speaking of McGwire, he ends the sim as the all-time home run champ with 889. Home runs were actually pretty modest for a while but went completely off the rails towards the end, as evidenced by the single-season record. Ruth hit 59 in 1921 and that number stood until McGwire hit 61 in 1987. Griffey and Sosa took a couple runs at the record but both topped out with a couple of 59 homer seasons and it looked like Big Mac would be safe… and then 2018 hit and Carlos Franco of the Rockies hit 62.
Who the fuck is Carlos Franco, you ask? Great question. In real life he spent last year playing Double-A ball for the Braves as he struggles to finally reach the big leagues. In this game, he was basically god. He hit 62 homers in 2018, 67 in 2019, and 68 in 2020 (and won MVP all three years)… but he didn’t lead the league in either of the last two seasons. In 2019, a rookie Yordan Alvarez hit 69 for the Padres, and in 2020 Cody Bellinger of the Rockies hit 72. That’s right, in this sim, two teammates combined to hit 140 home runs in a single season. Carlos Correa hid a modest 48 for Colorado that year as well. In all the first 147 seasons yielded one 60 homer season, and then we had six of those seasons in the last three years.
If you’re a Yankees hater, this was a good sim for you. The Bronx Bombers won five titles – one in the 1800s and then another four between 1955 and 1961 as Mickey Mantle terrorized the league – but nothing since that ’61 season.
Speaking of Mantle, he was basically the GOAT. Career WAR leader among position players at just under 189 – Ted Williams is second at 164. Other post-1900 GOAT contenders include Frank Robinson, Rogers Hornsby, Larry Walker (4400 hits!), John Olerud, Edgar Martinez, Jim Thome, and Ken Griffey Jr. Not sure how Junior only ended up with 103 career WAR considering he had 3400 hits, 750 homers, and nine gold gloves, but hey.
About that 3400 hits, by the way – doesn’t mean a whole lot. For whatever reason, hit totals went through the roof the entire sim (probably because I turned injuries down a notch). By 2010, the entire Top 100 had 3,000 hits and five guys even ended up in the 4,000 club. Tuck Turner led the way with an unfathomable 5,213 hits, way more than the 482 he had in real life.
Turner is probably the captain of the “who the fuck is this guy?” all-stars, guys who did WAY better in the sim than in real life. Other such players include Ross Barnes, a 19th century second baseman who posted 27.7 WAR in real life and won 14 MVPs (seriously, what the fuck) in my sim… Mike Adams, who posted a 0.2 WAR IRL and 127.8 in the game, Andre Rodgers (6.3 IRL, 127.2 in the game), and Tim Naehring, who managed to win four MVPs and hit almost 600 homers despite being pretty bad in the real world.
On the pitching side, there’s a dude named Charlie Geggus. In real life, he pitched one season and was retired by 23. In the game, he lasted until 46 and put up the following eye-popping numbers: 539 wins, 776 complete games, 4344 strikeouts in 8653 innings pitched. The 1800s were wild, man. Before Geggus there was Peek-a-Boo Veach, who had a 1.9 WAR IRL and posted 503 wins in the game. He also racked up eight Cy Young Awards, which were later renamed “Peek-a-Boo Veach Awards” after Cy Young had a woefully underwhelming career. Jumping out of the 1800s (although shoutout to Cannonball Titcomb for converting a -3.4 career WAR in real lie to 150.8 in the game), the biggest overachievers pitching-wise were Ben Tincup (a Native American who racked up the most WAR of any 20th century pitcher at 148), Lane Phillips (137 WAR, never made the majors in real life), and Danny Jackson. As a fan of the ’93 Phillies I love Danny Jackson, but I also know his limitations. In this sim, he won seven Peek-a-Boo Veach Awards. Wild. Oh, and Trevor Bauer, who is quite good in real life but had won seven straight PABV Awards at the end of the sim.
The biggest disappointments offensively were Honus Wagner (just mediocre), Stan Musial (WEIRD career, more on him in a minute), Rickey Henderson (immediately relegated to the bench by the Pirates, where he would rot away before retiring with a 1.7 WAR), Eddie Mathews (won the Rookie of the Year and then just never panned out), Brooks Robinson (2.3 career WAR but kept the nickname “Vacuum Cleaner,” presumably because he sucked), Tony Gwynn and Ichiro (less than 10 WAR combined), and Mike Trout (career .658 OPS and a reputation for being full of himself).
On the pitching side, Cy Young (mediocre), Roger Clemens (like Musial, kinda weird career), Tom Seaver (1.3 WAR, out of the league by his age-25 season), Phil Niekro (WEIRD!), Warren Spahn (threw three innings at age 21 and never pitched in the bigs again), Steve Carlton (fashioned out a long career as a relief pitcher, but really underwhelming), and Bob Gibson (spent 19 years in the minors and never made the majors).
Now, my favorite part – the bizarre careers. Stan Musial signed with an independent league team as a pitcher at 16 years old. Played for, like, eight teams in three years in semi-pro ball before the Red Sox finally signed him. They converted him to a hitter, but he didn’t have a position. Like, he wasn’t even a 20 anywhere. So the Sox used him exclusively as a pinch-hitter… for 16 years. He didn’t get one start in 16 years. He was angry, and I don’t blame him. He was hitting .300 most years, and never got a single start. Then, at age-36, they just made him a full-time first baseman. 150 starts a year. Get out there. He played five full seasons there and made three all-star teams before being released at 40 and having short cups of coffee with Minnesota and the Yankees.
Jim Thome had a predictably great career in a few ways – 650 homers, 1900 RBIs… the usual. What makes his career so weird was that he was an absolute burner on the bases for reasons I can’t begin to figure out. First 40-40 guy ever. 438 career steals (he had 20 in real life). Jim Thome: Speed Demon was not a subplot I expected to see.
Another interesting one was Carlos Zambrano. Big Z played almost his whole career for the Rays… as a first baseman. Had a 30-homer 110-RBI season and even won the 2008 ALCS MVP. Never threw a single pitch in the majors.
Roger Clemens went first overall to the Cubs in 1983 and ended up pitching mostly as a reliever for a staggering 18 different teams. The end results: 5.9 WAR for the Cubbies, -1.5 for the other 17 teams combined.
Last but not least, Phil Niekro. Niekro pitched in the minors from 1960-1974 and never made it to the Show, so he retired… only to come out of retirement in 1984 at the age of 45 and make it onto the Yankees. He pitched in eight games and was absolutely terrible, but it’s still a pretty cool story.
A few other minor notes – I eliminated the color barrier early and it was broken by a guy named Pythias Russ, who signed with the Cardinals and then was traded to the Philadelphia A’s two months later. Ended up winning three gold gloves in the majors; not quite Jackie Robinson but not bad. First $100M contract went to Griffey, first $200M to A-Rod, and there were only two $300M contracts ever – David Wright (Mariners) and Christian Yelich (Marlins). The Best “What If?” scenario was Josh Hamilton, who stayed off drugs and posted a 131.2 career WAR. The worst was Jose Fernandez, who (to this point) has posted a 6.77 ERA in the majors.
Yeah, I think that’s most of the broad stroke interesting stuff. Hit the comments with any specific questions on players or teams.
P.S. – Almost forgot, Moonlight Graham never even made it to Triple-A. :(
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