What else can baseball fans do in January but dream of October? In You May Say I’m a Dreamer, the Outside Corner staff will imagine the route to a World Series in 2012 title for all 30 teams.
The Toronto Blue Jays have overcome all odds, and have miraculously won the 2012 World Series. It took a lot for the Blue Jays to surpass the heavily favored Yankees and Rays, and the talented Red Sox, but they got there as their young players managed to all come together at the right time to create a juggernaut that no one could stop through the end of October. I think the sleek new logos had a lot to do with it too, but that’s just me.
This Blue Jays team was led by one man, the AL MVP Jose Bautista. A year after being jobbed out of the award despite being the best offensive player in the league, Bautista didn’t screw around this time. He hit 53 homers, had a .303/.457/.671 slash line, and was worth an insane 10.1 fWAR on the season. It was impossible to try to deny Bautista the MVP this year, and he won the award unanimously.
Not that he needed much help, but Bautista got some from his offense. His middle infield of Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson, reunited in Toronto after playing together in Atlanta, combined for 39 homers and each had an OPS above .800. Escobar also won the AL Gold Glove at third base. Third baseman Brett Lawrie built on his excellent, albeit brief, rookie campaign by hitting 26 homers with an .873 OPS. In a relatively week AL rookie crop, he would have won the Rookie of the Year award if he were eligible.
Toronto’s enigmatic outfielder Travis Snider also finally got a foothold on a major league job, and he was hesitant to let it go. Snider won a battle for the left field position in the spring with Eric Thames, and a .973 OPS in April firmly entrenched him as the starter. Snider would finish with 31 homers and a .859 OPS for the season. Toronto also got contributions from Adam Lind (24 homers), JP Arencibia (21 homers), and center fielder Colby Rasmus (18 homers, .841 OPS).
The pitching for the Blue Jays also performed well. Brandon Morrow finally got his command under control, and was one of the best pitchers in the AL. Morrow threw 227 innings, struck out 250, and only walked 61 hitters. Put all that together, and you’ve got a potentially elite starter that was more than worthy of the extension he signed this offseason. Incumbent ace Ricky Romero also continued to shine, and had another typical Romero season: a 3.39 ERA and 16 wins. Can’t really complain about that. Those two helped anchor the Blue Jays rotation, as did youngsters Kyle Drabek and Henderson Alvarez. The most pleasant surprise was the return of the oft-injured, super talented Dustin McGowan, who won 12 games and threw 155 innings for the Jays this season, winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year.
Toronto’s bullpen, which was massively retooled this offseason, also perfomed admirably. New closer Sergio Santos struck out 97 batters in 64 innings, and saved 41 games. His main setup men, Francisco Cordero, Jason Frasor, and Darren Oliver, all kept their ERAs under 2.50 for the season, which is no easy task in the AL East. Casey Janssen even managed to throw 85 innings of 3.12 ERA ball, mostly in a long relief role that helped preserve the key members of the bullpen for tighter games.
It wasn’t easy for the Jays at all. But when Jacoby Ellsbury went down with a knee injury, the Red Sox crumbled behind a weak crop of starting pitchers. When rookie pitcher Matt Moore flamed out and star third baseman Evan Longoria broke his wrist, the Rays struggled to stay more than five games aabove .500. And then, the favored Yankees. The Yankees just didn’t mesh very well as a team all year, even without AJ Burnett in the fold. Their starters underperformed, their offense was mediocre, and Joe Girardi just couldn’t get his bunch motivated to go on a roll at the end of the season. It wasn’t exactly the way things were supposed to go, but dammit, the end result is all that matters. And that result is the World Series trophy going to Toronto for the first time in 19 years.