The three way race between Boston, Baltimore, and the Blue Birds is way too tight to lose anyone. On any winning team, there are players who seperate the wins from the losses, and with series’ against the O’s and the Red Sox down the stretch, one or two losses could be considered substantial ground, and could literally be the difference between a wild card and a consecutive pennant. These are the players in the 6ix that put fans in the seats of the Rogers Centre in October.
Is there really any question? The reigning MVP has put up MVP type of numbers for the second season in a row. From barehanded plays to a hattrick of home runs, he can literally do anything Toronto needs him to do. His success carries the team, as it seems as if when Josh Donaldson is hitting well, Toronto is winning games. To solidify that fact, Donaldson has an underwhelming five home runs when the Jays lose, so him being in the lineup could mean an extra month of baseball in Toronto
It’s hard to leave anyone who is in the race for the most homeruns in the MLB out of topics like this, and for Edwin, it really is deservedly so. It seems like Encarnacion is always hitting home runs, and his power is so distinct in the Jays’ lineup.
It may come to a surprise to some, but Russell Martin is extremely important in Toronto’s lineup. Martin usually isn’t in the lineup when Dickey is pitching, and Dickey gets an astonishing 3.7 average runs per game from his team. J.A Happ it hovering around 6 runs per game. There’s something about him behind the plate that generates offence for the Jays. Without him, Toronto would have to look to a tandem of Josh Thole and Dionner Navarro.
On a team where depth in the bullpen is lacking, it’s hard not to look to Roberto Osuna as one of the Jays’ most important players. Even though he is only pitching an inning about once every other game, He gets the job done in save situations. Without him, Jason Grilli would have to move to the ninth inning, and the good arms in relief, or lackthereof, would be a significant problem for Toronto.
Ever since Devon Travis returned to the Jays’ lineup in late May, things have just started to click. You could easily make the argument that had Toronto been able to look to Devon Travis in the first 2 months of 2016, it wouldn’t really be a race for 1st anymore, with the Bluebirds several games ahead of any competition. With the highest batting average on the team, and the ability to come up with big at bats, Devon Travis is a spark plug anywhere in the Jays’ lineup.
You could make a case for anyone of Happ, Sanchez, and Estrada, but with several good starting arms, losing one of them isn’t the worst case scenario, especially when John Gibbons can look to Francisco Liriano to give the offence the chance to win a game.
Jose Bautista, unfortunately, doesn’t make the cut because of the depth on the outfield. The quartet of Melvin Upton Jr, Michael Saunders, Kevin Pillar, and Jose Bautista is able to rotate if anyone of the four isn’t playing. If you combine that with a batting average that isn’t quite up to Jose Bautista standards, you get a list of players that Toronto needs, that surprisingly, doesn’t include Jose Bautista.
Nobody wants – or is expecting – Toronto’s chance at October baseball to go by the wayside. Toronto has a deep enough core, and the sixth month of the season is the time where the big boys have to, literally, step up to the plate.
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