The Realist’s Guide to the 2020 Blue Jays

My tradition at this site for previewing the Blue Jays ahead of Opening Day is to take an optimistic, pessimistic, and realistic look at the team.

I walked through the rose-coloured-glasses, hope-springs-eternal, everything-can-and-will-go-right scenic route on Wednesday, outlining all of the upside on the roster and why it’s absolutely worth being excited about this group.
Since baseball is a cruel game designed to break your heart, we know deep down that the optimistic view is fool’s gold. So, next, I would take the pessimistic approach, in which everything can and will go wrong and we expect the worst.
But this season is a bit different. The doom-and-gloom approach ultimately boils down to Major League Baseball’s tightrope walk over the COVID-19 volcano going incredibly wrong. At the very worst, this season crashes into a wall and goes up in smoke. There’s really no need to write an entire article about how quickly things can implode as teams travel around the United States during a pandemic, I figure, so I’m just going to get into the Realist’s Guide to the 2020 Blue Jays.
I’ll kick this off by …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Leafs Draft Position is Set, and their first pick will be 53rd Overall

One of the things we haven’t really done on this site in a while is talk about the entry draft. There’s a couple of good reasons for that. The most obvious one is that the Leafs are good now and we’re not eyeballing the top of the draft like we used to. That’s a good a problem.
The other reason is that the Leafs don’t have a first round pick this year. This is a far less good problem, but is also completely justified by the fact the Leafs added Jake Muzzin in that process. That’s probably not a decision you can make every year, but the Leafs current situation dictated that paying a hefty price for a player who is essentially the 2D on the team is the right call. It just makes for a boring first night of the draft unless you expect the Leafs to try and shed some salary and get back into the first round. (I want to believe this and so help any of you if you try to take that from me.)
The Leafs Picks
With the second round of the playoffs closing last night, that basically …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

I think I like Nikita Zaitsev* (*so far in this series)

I think this site has more than enough content on it speaking ill of Nikita Zaitsev that we probably owe the guy a post talking about the things he seems to be doing well. That thing is doing well just so happens to be holding his own against the best line in hockey.

That’s pretty darn good and dare I say the best that any of us could ever hope for. What’s pretty interesting is that when Zaitsev has been away from that line, he’s gone back to regular Zaitsev.

Zaitsev CF% Away
David Pastrnak
39.02
Charlie McAvoy
45.24
Brad Marchand
40.48
Patrice Bergeron
39.53
Zdeno Chara
36.36
Wait, that might be worse than regular Zaitsev and we should have concerns about Zaitsev having a 26.67 CF% against Krejci and a 27.27% CF% against DeBrusk, but dammit, we’re giving Zaitsev his moment, at 5 on 5 he’s been fantastic against his assignment. Of course, we’ll have to also consider who is on the ice with him…
With
TOI With
TOI Away
CF% With
Zaitsev CF% Without
Off. Zone Start %
Jake Muzzin
41.30
5.48
46.38
55.56
33.33
John Tavares
26.48
20.30
58.70
36.59
30.77
Zach Hyman
26.47
20.32
53.19
42.50
30.77
Mitchell Marner
25.85
20.93
55.56
40.48
30.77
Still, it doesn’t matter that Zaitsev has an outstanding supporting cast, he is going up …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation