Three weeks into the season, the Toronto Blue Jays have played above expectations (if there were any) and have offered glimpses of hope.
Obviously, it’s still extremely early but if the Jays had got off to another slow start, some would have questioned Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos (who received a lot of criticism this winter) and the big moves he has made over his tenure in Toronto.
With that in mind, we took a look at 10 notable former Blue Jays, and how they have fared to start the 2014 season.
J.P. Arencibia, Texas Rangers – Arencibia became expendable after posting one of the worst statistical offensive seasons of all-time in 2013. The former Jays catcher hasn’t done much better since joining Texas. He has just two hits with no home runs, one RBI and five strikeouts. He has not walked since his first at-bat of the season and has an on-base percentage of .120 and an OPS of .245. There are rumours he may be released when Geovany Soto is healthy. Anyone still complaining about the Dioner Navarro signing?
Emilio Bonifacio, Chicago Cubs – Where was this version of Bonifacio last year? He never really got going in Toronto but he's been drastically improved early in 2014. The 28-year-old stormed out of the gate with nine hits in his first two games with Chicago. In 51 at-bats, Bonifacio is hitting .392/.436/.451/.887 with three doubles, two RBIs, and seven stolen bases. It’s a drastic difference from the Bonifacio who could barely function last season in Toronto. He had just 12 hits throughout the entire month of April in 2013.
Rajai Davis, Detroit Tigers – A spring training injury to outfielder Andy Dirks cleared the way for Davis to become the everyday left fielder for the Tigers. Davis has batted .345/.412/.448/.860 with four RBIs, five steals at just two strikeouts in 29 at-bats. Obviously, a very small sample size but he has been a nice addition atop the batting order for the Tigers.
Josh Johnson, San Diego Padres – Johnson has yet to pitch this season after suffering a right forearm strain during spring training. He was originally expected to miss only a month but the team is concerned with the state of his forearm and he is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews. Johnson, who struggled to stay healthy and productive in his lone season in Toronto, first had Tommy John surgery in 2008 when he was with the Marlins.
Adeiny Hechavarria, Miami Marlins – Before acquiring Jose Reyes, Hechavarria was projected to Toronto’s shortstop of the future. He’s become exactly that in Miami, where he has excelled on defence and has started to show signs of improvement at the plate. The 25-year-old has posted a line of .328/.355/.448/.903 with three RBIs and one steal in 58 at-bats so far this season.
Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins – Some Jays fans wondered if the team made a mistake including Alvarez in the mega-deal with Miami after he threw a no-hitter at the end of last season. Revisionist history, obviously. The 23-year-old right-hander, who once drew a Felix Hernandez comparison from Jose Bautista hasn’t been very effective in three starts so far in 2014. In 14.2 innings pitched, Alvarez has an 0-2 record with 10 strikeouts, seven walks, an ERA of 4.30 and a WHIP of 2.18. And it’s worth remembering pitching stats are usually inflated in the National League.
Travis d’Arnaud, New York Mets – At one time, the Blue Jays had a group of elite catching prospects led by Arencibia and d’Arnaud. Now both play for other teams. The 25-year-old d’Arnaud has gotten the majority of the starts behind the plate with the Mets where he has four runs, six hits, one home run, and two RBIs with a batting line of .154/.250/.256/.506 in 39 at-bats. He has struck out nine times and has walked on five occasions. In simpler terms, he’s still a work in progress offensively.
Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets – If R.A. Dickey never pans out in Toronto, the Blue Jays could rue the day they gave up Syndergaard. The 21-year-old is considered to be one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. He is currently pitching in triple-A Las Vegas, and in three starts thus far, he has registered a 2-1 record with 12 strikeouts, five walks, an ERA of 3.94 and a WHIP of 1.38 in 16.0 innings. Not too impressive but it’s tough to take the numbers too seriously because of the difficulty of pitching in a Las Vegas park that is extremely friendly to hitters. Overall, it still remains unclear when the Mets project the right-hander to pitch in the major leagues.
Travis Snider, Pittsburgh Pirates – Considering he was originally called up in Toronto in 2008, Snider is still a relatively young player at 26. He never lived up to the elite prospect status in Toronto but has a found a nice role in Pittsburgh as the right fielder and No. 2 hitter. He has appeared in all of the Pirates’ games this season, hitting .261/.306/.457/.763 with three home runs, six RBIs and six strikeouts in 46 at-bats. It hasn’t all been good news though (see below).
Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics - Few may remember Chavez’s brief stint in Toronto during the 2012 season (it lasted just nine games), but the 30-year-old journeyman has had one of the more surprising starts in 2014. Chavez only made Oakland’s rotation out of spring training because of injuries but has lit the world on fire thus far. In his first three starts, Chavez has 22 strikeouts (as compared to two walks), an ERA of 1.35 and a WHIP of 0.85 in 20.0 innings.