Did Shapiro and Atkins Make the Correct Choice Blowing Up a Playoff Team?


Chris Young/Canadian Press

When you follow a team like the Toronto Blue Jays, it's always difficult to not reminisce on the past successes of the team. For this particular team, it seems as though everyone wants to relive the glory days of 2015. It was the year where everything was coming up Blue Jays. The year everyone was screaming at a television while Jose Bautista stood at home plate and flipped a bat. And it was a year where baseball was fun in Toronto.


A lot of fans seem to think that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins came in and destroyed a playoff team by blowing it up. I wanted to see if that truly was the case, so I took a look back at the roster that won those playoff games to see where they are now. I took those players, recorded what their numbers look like now, and stacked those up against this season's current roster. What I found might come as a shock to those still living in the past.

 

First Base


2015: Chris Colabello

2019 Stats - Playing in the AAIPB


Fan favourite Chris Colabello was an incredible story for the Blue Jays in 2015. Came out of nowhere, took the team by storm and stole Justin Smoak's job down the stretch. 2016 was a different story however, given his 82 game suspension for PEDs and his inability to find his form again. Colabello has since left the MLB and is currently playing for the Kansas City T-Bones in the AAIPB.


2019: Rowdy Tellez

2019 Stats - 92 G, 17 HR, 45 RBI, .221/.280/.432, -0.4 WAR


Rowdy, meanwhile, has had a bit of a rocky start to his Major League career. After exploding onto the scene last season with a .314 average and 14 RBI in 23 games, he has yet to find consistency in his sophomore season. There has been flashes of some really good pop in his bat though, and at 24 years old, if he can find a little more consistency in his bat, he'll be a more than serviceable first baseman.


Winner: 2019


Second Base


2015: Ryan Goins

2019 Stats - 42 G, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .268/.354/.378, 0.8 WAR


Ryan Goins was never really here for his bat and these stats may not tell the full story for him. It was a blast watching Goins make highlight reel plays seemingly every night, but it got painful at times watching him struggle to hit a baseball every night. His career high .268 average this season is a surprising sight for him, but I would be shocked if he continues to hit at that clip and prove the Jays wrong.


2019: Cavan Biggio

2019 Stats - 81 G, 12 HR, 10 RBI, .212/.343/.385, 1.5 WAR


Son of hall of famer Craig Biggio, Cavan has come up to the big leagues and has shown he definitely has the ability to swing the bat. Like most rookies, consistency hasn't been his forte, but with his pop, coupled with his ability to play multiple positions, it's clear that Cavan may have a bright future with this team.


Winner: 2019


Third Base


2015: Josh Donaldson

2019 Stats - 136 G, 34 HR, 82 RBI, .262/.381/.535, 5.1 WAR


2015 MVP Josh Donaldson struggled to stay healthy for his final two seasons with the Blue Jays. His injury troubles were attributed a little bit to his age, and it was thought that he wouldn't be able to replicate the numbers from earlier on in his career. It looks like he may have proven people wrong in his first season with the Braves however, as the third baseman is nearly on pace to crack 40 HRs for the first time since his 2015 MVP season.


2019: Vladimir Guererro Jr.

2019 Stats - 105 G, 15 HR, 59 RBI, .276/.350/.456, 2.2 WAR


It's been obvious for years that Vladdy is the third baseman of the future for this Toronto Bule Jays Squad. The 20 year old hasn't fully lived up to the lofty expectations that were set for him, but has still been impressive in his first season as a big leaguer. It's obvious that he has more power than the majority of the league, and he has recently shown his ability to hit for average at the major league level. If he manages to put it all together, he will be a dominant force in the major leagues.


I always understood Donaldson stepping aside for Vlad to take his place. But for me, I couldn't really understand why they forced out a true professional in JD as opposed to keeping him around to mentor a young Vlad, while still providing a really good bat for the budding lineup.


Winner: 2015, for this season anyways


Shortstop


2015: Troy Tulowitzki

2019 Stats - RETIRED


Tulo didn't really leave on the best of terms so this one is pretty easy. After telling the Toronto media that if he can't play shortstop, then he doesn't want to play anymore, Troy decided to sign a contract to play second base for the New York Yankees. Like clockwork however, he got injured an was unable to finish the season. The injury forced him into retirement after just five games this season.


2019: Bo Bichette

2019 Stats - 33 G, 8 HR, 32 RBI, .326/.362/.597, 1.8 WAR


I could probably write an entire article on Bo Bichette alone, but I'll try to keep this one compact. The hype for Bo in the minors wasn't quite what it was for Vlad and Biggio, but man has this kid been incredible. After coming up and setting numerous franchise records every game, Bo tied Ted Williams (yes, THE Ted Williams) for the Major League record of consecutive games with and extra base hit by a rookie, and set the Major League record for consecutive game with a double. Power, average, speed, hustle, defence, incredible flow, Bo has given Jays fans literally everything you could ask for.


Winner: 2019 and it's not even close


Catcher


2015: Russell Martin

2019 Stats - 75 G, 6 HR, 19 RBI, .218/.341/.335, 0.7 WAR


The unofficial captain of the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays, Russ Martin was the leader and spark plug that helped the Jays push through some tough times throughout the year. Unfortunately he hasn't really been able to regain that form and has been relegated to a bench role with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Kind of a win win for both the Jays and Russ if you ask me.


2019: Danny Jansen

2019 Stats - 99 G, 12 HR, 42 RBI, .208/.280/.366, 1.1 WAR


Similar to Rowdy, Jansen was incredible with the bat last year, all while throwing out just about everyone that tried to run on him. While his arm is still incredible, he has had troubles contributing on the offensive side for extended periods of time. Given that he's a good back catcher, the offence isn't a huge problem, but I'd like to see him take a step forward next season.


Winner: 2019


Left Field


2015: Ben Revere

2019 Stats - Free Agent


Once regarded as the leagues best lead off men, Revere has basically disappeared from the game of baseball. The Jays signed him to a minor league deal this season, but he was released shortly after. He is now a free agent once again.


2019: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

2019 Stats - 79 G, 19 HR, 47 RBI, .279/.331/.548, 1.6 WAR


Lourdes is a curious case for the Blue Jays. After setting a franchise and rookie record for consecutive multi hit games last season (11), he came out of the gate completely flat and had to be shipped down to Buffalo to figure out his game. He followed that by leading the majors in multiple offensive categories in his first month back after being called up. On top of that, Lourdes now sits tied for third in the AL with 9 outfield assists despite playing only 62 games in the outfield this season (the other three have 108, 80, and 123 respectively). It looks as though Lourdes has the LF spot, and a spot from 2-4 in the lineup locked up for a long time barring he stays healthy.


Winner: 2019


Center Field


2015: Kevin Pillar

2019 Stats - 134 G, 21 HR, 78 RBI, .268/.296/.469, 1.5 WAR


I understand the Pillar trade, don't get me wrong... but man does it hurt a little bit that his numbers are looking pretty good. KP will always have a place in the hearts of Jays fans for his heart and hustle on the field, and the ability to make mind blowing catches in the outfield. Obviously he was a little out of the age range for this team moving forward and it was time to let him go, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss seeing him out there every day.


2019: Teoscar Hernandez

2019 Stats - 107 G, 21 HR, 53 RBI, .220/.297/.449, 1.0 WAR


I've been watching this guy for parts of two seasons now and I have no idea what he is. His time in left field was an absolute train wreck, but while he's made no errors in centre, the numbers seem to suggest that he was more beneficial to the Jays in left than he's been in centre. His bat meanwhile, can either be the best on the team or the worst on the team depending on which version of him shows up. I'd still love to see him contribute for this team, but it looks to me like he's suited to be a great power bat off the bench.


Winner: 2015


Right Field


2015: Jose Bautista

2019 Stats - Free Agent


Yeah... That's it.


2019: Randal Grichuk

2019 Stats - 131 G, 24 HR, 62 RBI, .232/.284/.434, 0.3 WAR


Obviously Grichuk is a serviceable outfielder in this league. His contract kinda baffles me however. The fact that he'll be making 10 million a year for five more years with this team seems kinda odd when you factor in the fact that he's 28 years old (around the same age as Donaldson when he "declined") and has never really shown that he is a great everyday outfielder. Seems like an odd decision to block off a younger talent like Anthony Alford, but nevertheless, Baustista never really returned to form so Grich gets the win here.


Winner: 2019


Designated Hitter


2015: Edwin Encarnacion

2019 Stats - 103 G, 31 HR, 78 RBI, .240/.344/.520, 2.5 WAR


The first incredibly stupid thing that the Shapiro/Atkins regime did was letting Edwin walk to sign Kendrys Morales to an almost identical deal. I get that the market looked like it was going to be much different than it was, but the panic signing of Morales to prove that they didn't need Edwin was downright embarrassing and I'm glad that it didn't pan out for them.


Edwin meanwhile has maintained being one of the most consistent power hitters in the MLB and has still put up great numbers this season despite missing time due to injury.

2019: Justin Smoak

2019 Stats - 109 G, 20 HR, 55 RBI, .212/.350/.409, 0.9 WAR


The lone survivor from the 2015 team, Justin Smoak has been serviceable since 2015 but he's beginning to lose his job to the younger guys who will stil be here in five years. I'm glad they held on to Smoak for his veteran leadership, but I won't be surprised when they let him go real soon.


Winner: 2015


Pitchers


Rotation

1. 2015: David Price

2019 Stats - 107.1 IP, 7-5, 4.28 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 128 K


If you haven't been paying attention, David Price is no longer the same David Price that we saw in his short tenure with Toronto. his numbers are getting progressively worse and he can barely win ball games on a stacked Boston Red Sox team. On top of that, he's become a nightmare for Boston media, calling out many different members for their actions and just causing all sorts of problems.


2019: Trent Thornton

2019 Stats - 129.2 IP, 4-9, 5.34 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 123 K


The numbers aren't all that good for the young rookie this year but Trent Thornton has shown at times that he can be better than his numbers suggest. His 123 strikeouts are good for seventh among rookies behind some of the games best in Chris Paddack and Mike Soroka. If he can limit the number of rough outings he's had, then he'll be a good middle of the rotation guy.


Winner: 2015 for now


2. 2015: R.A Dickey

2019 Stats - RETIRED


I don't even want to talk about this one. Thank god his tenure is long done and over with.


2019: Jacob Waguespack

2019 Stats - 59 IP, 4-3, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 46 K


Waguespack has been pretty good in his short stint so far as a Blue Jay, especially given the fact that he's been thrown into a top of the rotation slot due to injuries and trades. He may not develop into a top of the rotation guy, but considering they only gave up Aaron Loup for him, you should be happy with any sort of Major League production from the kid.


Winner: 2019


3. 2015: Marco Estrada

2019 Stats - 23.1 IP, 0-2, 6.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 11 K before retiring


Marco gave us some of the guttiest performances you'll ever see during his two playoff runs with the Blue Jays. He never threw hard, but he got the job done every time he got on the mound. Unfortunately his back couldn't hold up and he was forced into retirement this season after just five starts.


2019: Clayton Richard

2019 Stats - 45.1 IP, 1-5, 5.96 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 22 K


Injuries have kinda hurt Richard this year, but the numbers are what you'd expect from him over the course of his career. Nothing special, but better than being retired.


Winner: 2019


4. 2015: Mark Buerhle

2019 Stats - RETIRED


2019: Clay Bucholz

2019 Stats - 36.1 IP, 1-3, 5.45 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 18 K


Shapiro took a flyer on Bucholz after a rather respectable 98 innings with the Diamondbacks last year in which he went 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA before getting shut down with an injury. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays Bucholz was hurt early and spent the majority of the year on the IL. His numbers since being back haven't been great, but at this point in this season he's just eating up innings (something the Jays desperately need).


Winner: 2019 by default


5. 2015: Marcus Stroman

2019 Stats - 156.1 IP, 7-12, 3.28 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 130 K


Technically this spot belonged to Drew Hutchison all season. Hutch had a wild year where he went 13-5 despite sporting a 5.57 ERA (isn't run support crazy?) but didn't start in the playoffs after Stroman's return from ACL surgery.


I don't need to get into what I think of the Stroman trade, but he was far and away the Blue Jays best pitcher this season before being dealt away at the deadline for some prospects. Seems like a great way to treat a 28 year old top of the rotation starter who is one of very few athletes who actually want to play in Toronto.


2019: T.J Zeuch

2019 Stats - 4 IP, 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 4 K


This isn't really comparable given that Zeuch has only made one MLB appearance and it was a so-so appearance at that. Zeuch did, however, throw a no-hitter for the Buffalo Bisons in August so there is definitely potential there.


Winner: 2015


Closer


2015: Roberto Osuna

2019 Stats - 54.2 IP, 31 SV, 3.13 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 58 K


If this was just player A vs. player B then the Osuna trade would've made no sense for the Toronto Blue Jays. Unfortunately, Osuna made a huge mistake and the Jays could no longer afford to have that look on their roster. The Astros don't seem to care however and the young closer is continuing to tear it up for them.


2019: Ken Giles

2019 Stats - 44 IP, 18 SV, 2.05 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 73 K


The man they got back in that deal has been no slouch either. No he's not as young as Roberto, but his numbers are equally as good. Giles is even blowing Osuna away in strikeouts with 10 less innings pitched. All things considered, the trade actually worked out pretty well for the Blue Jays


Winner: Even


Honourable Mentions


Aaron Sanchez - 131.1 IP, 5-14, 5.89 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 99 K


Sanchez had a great 2016 as a starter, but has been real shaky ever since. Injuries set him back every year with the Blue Jays, forcing them to try and trade him for assets. He was apart of a combined no hitter in his first start with the Astros, but has since been shut down for the year with a shoulder injury.


Aaron Loup - 3.1 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 5 K


Loup had a good four appearances with the San Diego Padres in May before being shut down for the entire season. His trade return, Jacob Waguespack, is currently contributing in the Blue Jays rotation


Brett Cecil - Has not played in 2019


Cecil was added to the 60 day IL before the season with Carpal Tunnel syndrome and has not pitched all year. This comes one season after posting a career high 6.89 ERA in a career low 32.2 IP


Liam Hendriks - 73.1 IP, 4-2, 1.72 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 105 K


Hendriks has been a reliable reliever for the Oakland A's since leaving Toronto. He started the wild card game as the "opener" last season, and even earned his first All Star Game appearance this season. This is one player the Blue Jays definitely missed out on.


Matt Boyd - 165 IP, 7-10, 4.58 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 219 K


It's easy to look at Boyd's numbers and not be impressed, but with 219 Ks and only 43 walks on the year, Boyd has shown true top of the rotation stuff. If he were on any other team his wins and ERA would look much better.

 

To quote Moneyball "it's hard not to be romantic about baseball". For Blue Jays fans, this seems to ring especially true about their love for the past. No matter how much you love the past, it's really difficult to look at that team and think we'd be doing better with that lineup at the helm.


I'm not here to fly the flags of either Shapiro or Atkins. I could spend hours talking about how they could be doing a much better job managing assets. What I can say however, is that despite what fans will say about them, they absolutely made the right move blowing this team up.

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