This is the most excited I have ever felt before the start of a new baseball season.
I was introduced to baseball by my Mom, who was at Game 6 of the 1993 World Series between the Toronto Jays and Philadelphia Phillies (you know, the game where Joe Carter did that thing), and fell in love with baseball after watching this commercial on repeat (no joke!). Like some of you, I became active in the Jays twitter community during the 2015 season.
At that time, I had just gone to my first ever Jays game at the Rogers Centre during April 2015, and started tweeting about them that very day. I had no idea that the Jays would make the playoffs and create so many wonderful memories for our franchise during that season. Sure, the start of 2016 was fun, but I feel like we all knew that team’s window was coming to a close sooner than later.
But, this season just feels different. After all of the insanity that was 2020, the “Baby Jays” blooming and fighting their way into a playoff spot was one of the brightest highlights of a very dark year. And hopefully, during this 2021 season, the Jays will be able to take all they learned from last season, and transform it into great power and success.
It’s crazy to me that many of the Jays we have come to know and love are men who we have been looking forward to watching ever sense their draft years. Early on, I started to follow Rowdy Tellez, Danny Jansen, Ryan Borucki, and many others, as they seemed to be the “light at the end of the tunnel” during the 2017 and 2018 Blue Jays seasons. Even now, with Bo, Vladdy Jr, Biggio, and the rest of our players on the team permanently, I still find myself watching and looking forward to the days when we will see Alex Manoah, Austin Martin, and Jordan Groshans. Maybe I just have a thing for prospects…
Back in our dark days (2017-2019), there was a lot to look forward to in the Toronto Sports community. The Raptors were the champions in 2019, the Leafs drafted some phenomenal talent, among many other awesome moments. Now, with the Raptors seemingly headed into a rebuild year (or three), and the Leafs still unable to win a playoff series (don’t hate me), it feels there is a lot of excitement for this Toronto Blue Jays team coming from people who don’t typically follow the Jays. Plus, with the Jays core being so young, it seems like this team will be very good and “watchable” for a long while.
As far as my realistic predictions for this year, I think the Jays are going to be in a hunt for the first or second Wild Card spot throughout the season. The Rays still have the capability to fight for the first spot in the division, even after trading their ace in Blake Snell. I think that the Red Sox will be underdogs this year, which is obviously worrisome for the rest of the teams in the AL East. And the Yankees, will be the Yankees. Back in 2016, I predicted that the Jays would win the World Series in 2021, so I guess that’s where I’d put the Jays ceiling. As for their floor, I hope we win at least 80-games this season. To be honest, while I think their playoff window will be open for a long time, I would disappointed if the Jays missed out on a wild-card spot this season, although it is possible because of the lack of MLB-caliber starting pitchers. I am quite high on Steven Matz, but I have practically no confidence in Tanner Roark, Robbie Ray, or TJ Zeuch. Hopefully, they’ll prove me wrong!
General Jays Predictions:
Over or Under 86 Wins: Over
Breakout Player: Vladdy Jr.
Breakout Pitcher: Jordan Romano
As for general MLB predictions, see below! (Just a warning, I’m historically terrible at predictions.)
AL Playoffs: NYY, CWS, HOU, TOR, MIN
NL Playoffs: NYM, STL, SD, LAD, ATL
WS: SD over NYY
AL MVP: Vladdy Jr. or Bo Bichette
NL MVP: Juan Soto
AL CY: Shane Bieber
NL CY: Jacob deGrom
AL ROY: Jarred Kelenic
NL ROY: Ke’Bryan Hayes
Opening Day is marks a fresh start and clean slate for every team in baseball. Here’s to a fantastic 162-game season, that ends with Vladdy Jr. hoisting Alejandro Kirk hoisting the World Series trophy in front of a 30% capacity crowd at the Rogers Centre!