The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays will depart for Spring Training with the hype significantly tempered as compared to the last time they congregated in Dunedin, FL. While they may not be the preseason darlings they were in 2013, they have plenty of players that can help you win your fantasy league. From a fantasy perspective, if you're looking for value on draft day, the Blue Jays roster offers a lot of opportunity. Cash in on these guys and their bounce-back seasons.
Toronto Blue Jays – Hitters Preview
DH - Edwin Encarnacion
The 31-year-old is coming off back-to-back 35+ HR, 100+ RBI seasons. Despite that, Encarnacion is just another guy in most formats because of his .272 batting average and the stacked corner-infield positions that he's eligible for. I think another 35+ HR season is in order.
2013 Stats: 142 G, 90 R, .272 BA, 36 HR, 104 RBI, 7 SB, .370 OBP
2014 Fantasy Projections: 145 G, .275 BA, 38 HR, 114 RBI, 5 SB, .375 OBP
C - Dioner Navarro
Fantasy owners will take notice of Navarro's .300 batting average and .856 OPS, as I'm sure they will of his relatively small sample of 266 plate appearances in 2013. Ultimately, the stats will win out, as Navarro could be among the top 12 catchers taken off the board. I like Navarro a lot, but I would aggressively try to get one of the top catchers first.
2013 Stats: 89 G, 31 R, .300 BA, 13 HR, 34 RBI, 0 SB, .365 OBP
2014 Projections: 130 G, 55 R, .270 BA, 15 HR, 50 RBI, 0 SB, .340 OBP
1B - Adam Lind
While injuries have made Lind's production a little inconsistent over the past four seasons, there's no doubting that he is a capable hitter. There's also the possibility that he hits cleanup in this potentially formidable lineup, and that's a good enough reason to reach a bit for the 1B/DH in shallow leagues and keep close by in the later rounds of deep leagues.
2013 Stats: 143 G, 67 R, .288 BA, 23 HR, 67 RBI, 1 SB, .357 OBP
2014 Fantasy Projections: 150 G, 70 R, .275 BA, 25 HR, 1 SB, .325 OBP
2B - Maicer Izturis
Izturis will have to beat Chris Getz out for the top spot at second base. Some think Getz's glove will get him into the starting lineup, but I'm leaning towards Izturis, who hit .016 points higher than Getz in 2013 despite posting the worst offensive numbers of his career. I expect Izturis to bounce back and take the top spot on the depth chart by the end of Spring Training.
2013 Stats: 107 G, 33 R, .236 BA, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 1 SB, .288 OBP
2014 Projections: 115 G, 44 R, .255 BA, 4 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB, .305 OBP
3B - Brett Lawrie
Perhaps no player better epitomized the heightened expectations of this team last year than Lawrie, who played so well to close out the 2011 season, but was fairly unproductive from the third base position in 2012. 2013 was supposed to be his bounce-back season, but that never came to pass as Lawrie was bit by the injury bug and was once again rather blasé with the bat. All that said, Lawrie's upside may just be too great to leave exposed to early-season free agency. On the auction side, expect his figure to be somewhere between $5-$8 this year as opposed to the low-to-mid teens it was last year. Lawrie, 24, is also an attractive player in dynasty formats, as he could put it all together at any moment.
2013 Stats: 107 G, 41 R, .254 BA, 11 HR, 46 RBI, 9 SB, .315 OBP
2014 Fantasy Projections: 135 G, 68 R, .265 BA, 18 HR, 75 RBI, 11 SB, .320 OBP
SS - Jose Reyes
While owners should be cautious in their projections of stolen base totals heading into this season, Reyes remains a top fantasy option in a shallow shortstop pool. He's still a high-average hitter with flashes of power, and he heads up a lineup with good run-production potential. This lineup won't be as injured as it was last year, and that's going to mean big things for Reyes. He's the first Blue Jay off my draft board.
2013 Stats: 93 G, 58 R, .296 BA,10 HR, 37 RBI, 15 SB, .353 OBP
2014 Fantasy Projections: 153 G, 90 R, .295 BA, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 37 SB, .350 OBP
RF - Jose Bautista
The production is still there-- when he's on the field. Bautista's health has frustrated many owners; he's logged just 92 and 118 games played the past two seasons, but he's given little indication that once he's in the lineup he will let you down. If he slips far enough on your board, snatch him up.
2013 Stats: 118 G, 82 R, .259 BA, 28 HR, 73 RBI, 7 SB, .358 OBP
2014 Fantasy Projections: 120 G, 75 R, .265 BA, 25 HR, 70 RBI, 5 SB, .355 OBP
CF - Colby Rasmus
If you're like me, you love to pick up Colby Rasmus in free agency after he shows the first sign that he's going to start clicking, as he might be one of the streakier players in the league. I also loved his potential as a young professional, so I'm constantly waiting in the wings should he ever start to really put things together. If he has a solid spring, draft him late to fill out your bench, even in shallow leagues.
2013 Stats: 118 G, 57 R, .276 BA, , 22 HR, 66 RBI, 0 SB, .338 OBP
2014 Fantasy Projections: 130 G, 65 R, .255 BA, 25 HR, 70 RBI, 5 SB, .320 OBP
LF - Melky Cabrera
Fantasy owners were willing to give Cabrera a shot in the 2013 draft, but they won't be as hopeful in 2014. Cabrera played in just 88 games and hit just three home runs. His .279 batting average, however, keeps him a wait-and-see option.
2013 Stats: 88 G, 39 R, .279 BA, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB, .322 OBP
2014 Projections: 115 G, 42 R, .265 BA, 5 HR, 41 RBI, 2 SB, .311 OBP