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March 11, 2014 posted by Patrick DiCaprio

2014 Fantasy Baseball Top Five Questions: Toronto Blue Jays

2014 Fantasy Baseball Top Five Questions: Toronto Blue Jays
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If you squint hard enough you can look at the Blue Jays and see a contender. If everything goes right they just might be; they have potential stars at three positions and a hoped-for return to form by one of the best pitchers in the game. The Jays are taking an apparent “stars and scrubs” approach with black holes at second base, catcher and maybe one of three outfield spots. Despite the black holes, there are even bigger questions facing fantasy owners. So, here are the top five questions facing the Jays:

5. Is Brett Lawrie a potential star? No he is not, and the sooner fantasy players accept this fact the better off they will be. His star credentials consist of one hot streak. He has had glimpses of stardom to be sure, but aside from the 2011 streak what we have is a player with two injury-riddled years in the majors with a sub-.320 OBP and a .400 SLG. He is only 24 and clearly he has room to grow, but stardom isn’t happening. He has average power, average speed and hits a ton of ground balls. He also gets caught stealing far too often.

4. Is Edwin Encarnacion really this good? He sure looks like it; there is nary a black mark in his batting line. He has even improved his underlying batting skills and walked more than he struck out in 2013; the culmination of a four-year improvement in his batting eye and reaching a career high in contact rate. As scary as it might be, we may not have seen his best and he is absolutely worth a First-Round pick.

3. Is R.A. Dickey ready to rebound? Let’s be frank, his 2012 season is a fluke. He was in a great park and the stars aligned for a miraculous year. How much do we discount him? Before 2012 he was a good real-baseball pitcher, but not a great fantasy pitcher because of the lack of strikeouts. Then he was a Cy Young pitcher that came crashing back to earth in 2013. Dickey should be better than 2013 for sure; his regression was fueled by a poor first half that was not just bad luck; it was a return to his old not-so-great skill set. His second half was a reasonable facsimile of his 2012 breakout, but with much better skills. No one, not even Dickey himself, knows what he is going to do and either half of 2013 is a reasonably expected outcome.

2. Is Jose Reyes overrated? Now age 31, Reyes is a great player and a possible Hall of Famer. On the other hand, his 2011 .337 BA is a clear outlier, so let’s think of him as a .290 hitter. That .290 is based on him being able to speed his way past his expected batting average as he has in the past. Last year was a typical example; he hit .296 with a .275 BA. The problem is that his speed is no longer elite, which make it more likely that last year’s BA was not a product of beating out the odd extra ground ball but because of luck. That is not to say that he is overrated, but it is a big question for fantasy players right now. If his speed doesn’t return the answer to this question is a resounding yet.

1. Is Jose Bautista done? Maybe “done” is too strong a word, but maybe not. He has old players’ skills and it is now obvious that his .300 BA season in 2011 was a BABIP induced outlier. Coming into his age-33 season with four consecutive years of declining slugging percentage. If Bautista makes it five in a row he will be just another 20 HR .250 BA OF. The problem is that his season could be worse than that. As we are fond of saying, once that regression pendulum starts to swing there may be no stopping it. This is why we have a history of older power hitters dropping off of a cliff. We are not predicting that will happen, but we have to address the possibility of it. On the plus side he still takes plenty of walks and an .850 OPS is not chopped liver.

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