Optimism Crushed: Looking Back at my 2018 Blue Jay Predictions

It has been a while.

The 2018 Blue Jays campaign was demoralizing, so demoralizing that it caused me to step away from this blog  for several months to stay sane.  There are myriad reasons why the season was so awful, and there is no sense reopening old wounds, but here are just a few reasons why Jays fans were driven mad last season:

What’s the deal with that last bullet?

Well, every season I post a column with 25 Blue Jay specific predictions for the upcoming season.  In re-reading this year’s post, it was clear that I was a HEAVY optimist for 2018.  It was also clear by late-May that none of my predictions were going to come true.  Therefore by late-July depression kicked in.

So now it’s time to wash my hands of 2018 and move forward.  But before I can do that it’s important that everybody sees just how badly last season went compared to what I hoped would happen.  Read on, and please keep your sanity.

1. Josh Donaldson rakes in his walk-year, hitting 40 HR with a .980 OPS.

Result: Oh boy, not even close.  Donaldson spent two separate stints on the DL, underperformed when he actually did play, and was shipped out of town before September.  In 36 games for Toronto he only hit 5 HR with a .757 OPS.

2. Despite incessant rumours all season long, Donaldson lasts the entire season in Toronto and is not traded before the deadline.

Result: Nope.

3. Aaron Sanchez bounces back to make 30 starts and finishes in the top-10 in Cy Young voting.

Result: More optimism gone awry.  Sanchez was hurt again and only made 20 starts with a 4.89 ERA and unsightly 1.56 WHIP.  He won’t finish anywhere the top-10 in balloting.

4. Marcus Stroman pitches over 200 innings and joins Sanchez in the top-10 in Cy balloting.

Result: Stroman was bad, then hurt, then bad, then hurt again.  He barely got halfway to the 200 IP mark (102.1), and with a 5.54 ERA and 1.48 WHIP put up worse numbers than Sanchez.

5. Jaime Garcia and Joe Biagini put up better combined numbers than Marco Estrada.

Result: Close but no cigar

Garcia/Biagini: 146.1 IP, 5.97 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 1.97 K/BB

Estrada: 143.2 IP, 5.64 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 2.06 K/BB

6.  Sadly we don’t see Troy Tulowitzki until June, and then only for a few weeks before he misses the rest of the season with yet another injury.

Result: Almost got this one right.  We didn’t see Tulo at all in 2018 and the jury is out as to whether or not we’ll see him ever again.

7. Happily, we do see Devon Travis stay healthy, and play over 140 games at 2B.

Result: Travis did stay healthy, but he was so bad in April that he was demoted to AAA Buffalo for a month and lost playing time to call-ups in September.  He finished with 103 games.

8. Kendrys Morales narrows his huge OPS splits by posting an OPS less than 100 points greater vs. LHP than vs. RHP.

Result:  Morales vs. LHP – .582 OPS, vs. RHP – .860 OPS.  So…..no.

9. Justin Smoak fails to replicate his huge 2017, but still eclipses the 25 HR mark.

Result: Hey!  Winner!  Smoak’s numbers were down across the board in 2018 but he still finished with 25 HR.

10. Roberto Osuna leads the AL in saves.

Result: Let’s not even touch this one.

11. The Jays never post a streak (either winning or losing) of over 4.

Result: Wrong.  Toronto lost 5-straight from May 28 – June 2 and won 5-straight from August 20 – 25.

12. Randal Grichuk makes the American League All-Star team.

Result: Not.  Even.  Close.

13. Toronto holds their own against the AL East, finishing over .500 against Tampa, Baltimore, New York, and Boston.

Result:  We beat Baltimore!  The Jays finished 14 – 5 against the O’s, but went 4 – 15 vs. Boston, 6 – 13 vs. New York, and 6 – 13 vs. Tampa Bay.

14. Danny Jansen becomes the backup catcher before the season’s half way point.

Result: He took over the primary catcher’s role in September.

15. With expectations lower than in years past the Jays fail to reach the 3-million mark in attendance for the first time since 2015.

Result: Got this one.  With a total attendance of 2.325 million the Jays had their lowest number of fans since 2012.

16. Toronto and Baltimore engage in not one, but two bench clearing incidents.

Result: I honestly don’t know.  I think both teams were so bad that they didn’t care enough to fight.

17. After finishing dead last in the AL and 27th overall in MLB in runs scored in 2017, the Jays offense rebounds to finish in the top half.

Result: They did improve on 2017 but Toronto’s 709 runs were only good enough for 17th out of 30 teams.

18. Travis posts a 25-game hitting streak.

Result: He maxed out at 7-games.

19. Despite pleas from fans, Vladdy Jr. and Bo Bichette do not make a major league appearance in 2018.

Result: Got this one exactly right.

20. However, both Anthony Alford and Dalton Pompey play a dozen games each.

Result: Alford appeared in 13 games, so I got that right, but Pompey fell out of favour with management and was the only member of the 40-man roster to not earn a September call-up.

20. Jose Bautista signs with Tampa Bay and returns to Toronto as a visiting player on August 10th.  He is greeted by a massive ovation.

Result:  Bautista did return to Toronto and was greeted with a massive ovation, but it was as a member of the New York Mets.

21. Rougned Odor hits less than .100 against Toronto pitching.

Result: Our favourite worst enemy actually hit .300 (3-for-10) this year against the Jays.

22. John Axford reprises the Jason Grilli role from 2016 and gives the Jays an impact late-inning reliever in front of Osuna.

Result: While his numbers weren’t as good as 2016 Grilli, Axford pitched reasonably well (4.41 ERA in 51 IP) before being traded to the Dodgers.

23. Axford, Danny Barnes, and Ryan Tepera all post ERA’s below 3.25.

Result: Nope, nope, and nope.  Axford – 4.41 ERA; Barnes – 5.71 ERA; Tepera – 3.62 ERA.

24. Curtis Granderson has a nice first half but is traded in advance of the July deadline.

Result: Granderson did have a nice first half but was traded in advance of the August deadline, not July.

25. The Jays stay competitive all season long and sneak into the playoffs as the second Wild Card team by outlasting Minnesota on the season’s final day.

Result: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

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