While the Toronto Blue Jays endured a 2017 season full of injuries and inconsistency, some former friends were out there enjoying both personal and team successes.
Our latest edition of the Ex-Files puts a bow on the regular season that just concluded, ranking those players using the wins above replacement metric (WAR) provided by FanGraphs.
2.3 WAR | 38 HR | .258/.377/.504
Of course he leads this list. Encarnacion’s 2017 stats are remarkably similar to those he posted during his final two seasons with the Blue Jays, with the exception of walks — the slugger drew more than 100 bases on balls for the first time in his career. All in all, he provided the Indians with exactly what they wanted: a big bopper to drive in runs from the middle of the lineup.
2.1 WAR | 31 HR | .247/.359/.518
It’s been a roller coaster season for Thames in his first year back from South Korea. His power production took a steep nosedive in the second half, but even so, he’s been a bargain for the Brewers, who gave the first baseman a three-year, $16-million deal in the off-season.
2.0 WAR | 15 HR | .246/.315/.413
The pending free agent had a poor year defensively, but Reyes did rediscover his power stroke, launching his most homers in a season since 2008. His 24 stolen bases ranked fifth in the NL.
1.8 WAR | 3.33 ERA | 54 innings | 71 strikeouts | 10 walks
After signing him to a one-year, $3-million contract, the Blue Jays received good value from Smith during the first half of the season before trading him to Cleveland in a deal that netted intriguing young left-hander Thomas Pannone. Smith finished the season with a career-best 11.8 K/9 ratio.
1.6 WAR | 2.06 ERA | 43.2 innings | 50 strikeouts | 9 walks
Morrow, who’s now throwing harder than ever, has found a nice home in the Dodgers bullpen. He was one of the team’s best relievers in 2017, holding batters to a .229/.288/.229 slash line in 52 high-leverage plate appearances, according to Baseball Reference.
1.6 WAR | 4.26 ERA | 190 innings | 136 strikeouts | 67 walks
Dickey led the Braves with 190 innings, shouldering a heavy load for a team that’s waiting for its young starting pitchers to take the next step. The 42-year-old hasn’t revealed whether he will come back for a 16th major-league season.
1.5 WAR | 3.38 ERA | 74.2 innings | 76 strikeouts | 24 walks
Lost in the injuries and off-field drama surrounding Price is that he’s been effective when healthy. The left-hander looked especially good in September when he returned from the DL as a reliever and allowed no runs while striking out 13 over 8.2 innings. Stay tuned as the story of his 2017 likely has more pages to be written during the playoffs.
1.4 WAR | 2.97 ERA | 30.1 innings | 34 strikeouts | 3 walks
It goes to show just how good the former Blue Jays prospect is when he can pitch in just seven games, and still generate 1.4 WAR. He missed four-and-a-half months with a torn lat, but returned in September to toss two scoreless relief outings. Undoubtedly, his season highlight was appearing in an episode of Game of Thrones.
1.3 WAR | 8 HR | .257/.289/.411
The slick defender rejoined the AL East in June when he was traded cross-state from the Miami Marlins. Like many players enjoying the power surge in baseball, the light-hitting shortstop set a new career high in home runs.
1.3 WAR | 5.31 ERA | 101.2 innings | 86 strikeouts | 44 walks
It’s been a rough go for the 24-year-old left-hander who was ineffective and injured at times this season. The good news for Norris, though, is that the rebuilding Tigers don’t have a wealth of starting pitching options next year, meaning he should get a fair shot to stay in the rotation.