Breaking Down The Blue Jays Outfield: Don’t Overlook The Upside Of Alford & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The obvious impact of the St. Louis Cardinals’ trade of Randal Grichuk is on Grichuk himself, who appears primed to get every day AB as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.  There also was the impact of clearing the deck a bit in St. Louis, leaving Marcell Ozuna, Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham to be the starters (with Jose Martinez also an option, though he also could be the 1B with Matt Carpenter moving across the diamond).  What happens in Toronto, though?  While Grichuk and Kevin Pillar should handle two of the three spots, who will fill the other spot?

 

Opening Day Option
Platoon of Steve Pearce and Curtis Granderson

It’s obvious that the Blue Jays are going to look to maximize the value of Steve Pearce and Curtis Granderson, who form an ideal veteran platoon.  Just look at the numbers:

  • Steve Pearce (vs. LHP) – .249/.349/.481 (career)
  • Curtis Granderson (vs. RHP) – .263/.355/.499 (career)

So the duo could conceivably combine to produce above average numbers for a corner outfielder.  Of course Pearce struggled against southpaws last season (.207 with 5 HR) and Granderson will be 37-years old on Opening Day.  That highlights the risk, and either one (or both) could lose AB or their roster spot before long.

Verdict – Short-term options, with Granderson being the “better” option on the favorable side of a platoon

 

The Long-Term Answer
Anthony Alford

You would think that the addition of Grichuk hurts the appeal of Alford in terms of his breakout status, but that’s not quite the case.  He was always going to need time in the minors and there’s no questioning his upside potential.  In our Preseason Top 10 Toronto Blue Jays’ rankings (click here for the list) we awarded him a “B+” grade and said:

There has long been hype hovering over Alford, and we’ve said that with his focus finally solely being on baseball (he also played football in college) we needed to give him time to develop.  Splitting time across three levels (he spent the bulk of his time at Double-A) and he also got a cup of coffee in the Majors, Alford showed off his speed (19 SB) while hitting .299 with 5 HR.  An 11.7% SwStr% does show a bit of a risk, as his average came courtesy of a .355 BABIP, and there’s risk that the 17.0% strikeout rate rises significantly.

That said he has the speed to carry an elevated BABIP, he should start to tap into his power a bit more and he showed strong plate discipline with an 11.0% walk rate.  He needs to avoid injury, but the potential is there to develop into a 15/30 type player at the top of the order.  Considering the other talent that is developing in the system, that’s a perfect fit.

Having gotten a cup of coffee with the Blue Jays in 2017 he’s going to arrive and given a long look at some point in 2018.  Maybe it comes a few weeks later than expected, but if the Pearce/Granderson duo struggles he’s going to get an opportunity.  Regardless he could force the issue and be a big-time factor in the second half.  Keep him on all sleeper lists for now.

Verdict – Second Half Sleeper

 

The Lost Value
Teoscar Hernandez

An overlooked Trade Deadline acquisition, Hernandez is likely the player whose value disappears thanks to the move.  He doesn’t have the long-term appeal that Alford does, so when the opportunity arises he’s likely second in line.  He also loses the short-term playing time, as there’s no spot in the starting lineup and the team may not need a “bridge” until Alford is deemed ready.

It makes sense, as strikeouts and fly balls already put his average at risk.  At this point strike him off your draft list outside of being a short-term streamer if opportunity arises.

Verdict – Ignore

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers03/14/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Shortstops03/21/1802/27/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 03/19/18
1-20: 03/12/18

21-40:
Starting Pitchers1-20: 03/24/18

21-40: 03/24/18
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Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

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