91-71 (4th in Division; 9th in MLB)
SP Wins: 61 (4th)
RP Wins: 30 (24th)
Saves: 34 (24th)
65+ Runs: 5 (Guerrero Jr. 123, Bichette 121, Semien 115, Hernández 92, Gurriel Jr. 62)
65+ RBI: 6 (Hernández 116, Guerrero Jr. 111, Bichette, Semien 102, Gurriel Jr. 84, Randal Grichuk 81)
10+ HRs: 8 (Guerrero Jr. 48, Semien 45, Hernández 32, Bichette 29, Grichuk, Springer 22, Gurriel Jr. 21, Jansen 11)
5+ SBs: 4 (Bichette 25, Semien 15, Hernández 12, Santiago Espinal 6)
BEST BUY: Bo Bichette
I had some questions about Bichette’s speed or just one question, but it was: does he really have it? He was 8-for-13 as a major leaguer but had managed 30 per 600 PA in the minors. I was concerned about getting burned by minor league SB totals again as I had with George Springer and Joc Pederson. Springer had a 40 SB/600 PA rate in the minors and Pederson was at 33 SB/600 PA. They have a combined 71 SBs in 6907 PA. But Bichette took off, going 25-for-26 in a dream season and now he’s a firm 1st-rounder as a do-everything middle infield stud.
ON THE RISE: Jordan Romano
Romano accumulated 7 SVs in the first half of last season with great ratios and strong skills, too. He had the closer’s role out of the All-Star break, but only managed 3 SVs in the first month of action because most of Toronto’s wins were by 4+ runs. August 21st started a run of 7 straight appearances securing a win or save and he wound up with 13 SVs from that point forward. With health, there’s 40 SVs here in 2022.
OFF THE RADAR: Alejandro Kirk
We are massaging this one a bit as Kirk isn’t exactly off the radar, but he is affordable at pick-231 as the 13th catcher off the board. There was some hype for Kirk last year, but with just 22 games played through July, his impact months likely came on a team other than the one that drafted him. He had a 101 wRC+ and 5 HR with a near 1:1 K/BB ratio (14 K, 13 BB in 127 PA) from August 1st forward. He won’t have a starting role heading into the season as his catching pales in comparison to Danny Jansen’s, but if he can be the C2 and supplement his playing time with DH reps, there is top-10 catcher potential.
HOT TAKE: Hyun Jin Ryu 류현진 rebounds with a sub-3.00 ERA season.
Ryu was on track for another strong season with a 3.26 ERA/1.14 WHIP through July, but then suffered through three 7 ER outings over his final 11 starts, pushing his final season ERA up to 4.37 in 31 starts. An uncharacteristic 1.7 HR/9 was a big reason for the struggles (1.1 in F20 starts; 0.94 career), but I see this more as a bump in the road as opposed to the start of his downfall. Even in his down season, he stil had a 4.17 SIERA and yeah, that isn’t great, but it’s not bad for your “off” season. In 2018-20, he posted a 2.30 ERA/1.04 WHIP in 332 IP and I think he gets back on track in 2022 with a 2.75 ERA in 170 IP.
ICYMI: Teoscar Hernández cut his strikeout rate to 25% and had an even better BABIP than 2020 at .352 (up 4 pts from the 2-month season). I was nervous about betting on Hernandez off the 2-month run because his plate skills were rough (30% K, 7% BB) and there was no way he would maintain a 33% HR/FB. As mentioned, he improved the plate skills – well the K%, at least, which was the biggest issue of the two – and his 22% HR/FB was good enough to fuel 32 HR. In short, he got better and ended up being worth his lofty draft price. I hope this is his new level because I’m a Hernandez fan and it’s fun watching him dominate.