The Blue Jays lost three key players in free agency from last season’s 91-win team: Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, and Marcus Semien. They replaced those three players with Kevin Gausman, Yusei Kikuchi, and Matt Chapman.
The general consensus I have seen seems to be that overall the team is better as they will have full seasons from José Berríos, Alek Manoah, a healthy George Springer, and fewer question marks in the bullpen, but the three new players aren’t quite up to the same level of who they are replacing.
Which makes sense — it’s incredibly difficult to replace a Cy Young winner and someone who finished in the top three of MVP voting. Let’s dive into it and see what the numbers say.
We’ll start with how these players performed last season…
Ray is underrated by FanGraphs version of WAR. It’s a FIP based WAR so Ray doesn’t look as good as Gausman does, despite their stats being pretty similar. Per Baseball-Reference WAR, Ray has the edge 6.8 to 5.2. Given the ballparks Ray pitched in and the competition he had to face, it’s not a hot take to say Ray had the better season. That’s not to discredit what Gausman did. He had a tremendous season in his own right, and finished sixth in NL Cy Young.
With Matz and Kikuchi it’s a tale of two halves. Matz didn’t have a great first half of the year, likely due to pitching in minor league ballparks. His first-half ERA was 4.72, and threw July it was 4.58. Once the Blue Jays returned to Toronto Matz was incredible with an ERA of 2.69 in August and September. The poor first half masked some of his success in the second half, but overall he was very good and his production will be difficult to replace. Kikuchi was just the opposite. He had a strong first half pitching to a 3.48 ERA and was the Mariners representative at the All-Star Game. He then fell off a cliff in the second half of the season. He p …
Author: Paul Berthelot / Blue Jays Nation