Blue Jays franchise records that could be broken in 2022

Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (27) round the bases after hitting a two run home run during second inning MLB American League baseball action against the Baltimore Orioles, in Toronto, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Although the 2021 season didn’t have the outcome the Toronto Blue Jays were hoping for, it had an important place in the team’s history.

Last year, the Blue Jays gave out franchise-record breaking contracts, saw Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ascend to the level of stardom that had always been predicted for him, and witnessed Robbie Ray bring home the club’s fifth Cy Young award.

Three days into 2022, it's impossible to tell how this year will compare to its predecessor, but for a relatively young franchise like the Blue Jays, making more team history is always on the table. One way that happens is by knocking down some franchise records, so we’re going to look at some record chases to watch in the year ahead.

Here are some Blue Jays records that could fall in 2022 — in order of most likely to least likely:

Hit-by-Pitch (Pitchers)

Blue Jays record: 16

Record holder: Alek Manoah (2021)/Chris Carpenter (2001)

Why it might go down: This one is about as simple as it gets. Manoah gave the Blue Jays just 20 starts last year and tied the record. If he’s closer to a full season in 2022, it should topple.

The big right-hander’s tendency to plonk hitters goes back to his minor-league career, and if you count his Triple-A starts in 2021, he racked up 20 HBP, easily enough to top Carpenter’s total.

Admittedly, this is not a sexy record — and it’d be a weird one to watch closely or cheer for — but it’s got a great chance to be broken. It’s also an intriguing one because Roy Halladay and Roger Clemens safeguard almost every Blue Jays pitching record under the sun, especially with counting stats. Halladay and Clemens logged far more innings than pitchers today do, which makes it almost impossible to take down the strikeout record, for instance. The quality of their performances also makes rate statistics all but out-of-reach.

The fact that Manoah can find an attainable record for starting pitchers is surprising, but his combination of fearlessness pitching on the inside of the plate — and occasional wildness — is unprecedented for the Blue Jays.

wRC+

Blue Jays record: 180

Record holder: Jose Bautista (2011)

Why it might go down: There’s no better statistic for measuring all-around offensive performance across eras than wRC+. Baustista’s 180 is an impressive number that’s only been topped six times across the majors since he set it 11 years ago. The six players who beat 180 (Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Freddie Freeman, and Mookie Betts) are all probably Hall of Famers, which gives you an indication of how good you have to be to set a record like this.

Luckily for the Blue Jays, Vladdy is that good. Guerrero Jr.’s wRC+ of 166 in 2021 was the fourth-best mark in team history, and there’s no reason the 22-year-old can’t continue to improve. The slugging first baseman had a 187 wRC+ in the first half of last season (374 plate appearances) so he’s clearly capable of sustaining this level for months at a time. All he needs to do to put up the biggest offensive season in Blue Jays history is to stay healthy, avoid a prolonged slump like he had in August, and perhaps get a little lucky.

None of that is a guarantee — and Steamer projects Guerrero Jr. to more or less match 2021 with a 162 wRC+ — but Vladdy could definitely grab this impressive record.

Holds

Blue Jays record: 26

Record holder: Scott Downs (2010)

Why it might go down: Once again we’re looking at a pitching record that isn’t glamorous, but it is attainable — specifically for Tim Mayza. The southpaw already has the 12th and 13th-highest Blue Jays single-season hold totals (18 in 2019 and 2021), and he could take a step up in 2022.

Mayza established himself as a reliable high-leverage reliever in the second half of 2021 and he has a few factors going in his favour. He’s consistently used when the Blue Jays are leading (35 of his 61 appearances in 2021) and he appears in short mid-inning outings (his 22 appearances spanning less than three outs was fifth in the AL) giving him the chance to grab less-taxing holds and pitch in back-to-back games more often. Because the 29-year-old was coming off Tommy John surgery last year, he didn’t get as much back-to-back consideration, but the Blue Jays won’t need to be as cautious with him in 2022. When Mayza is needed, he should be available and Charlie Montoyo loves to go to him.

To break Downs’s record, Mayza needs to remain effective and retain his role while the Blue Jays consistently take leads. The southpaw’s conversion to a sinkerballer makes him relatively easy to believe in and his role could be even bigger in tight spots than it was last year because it took him a couple of months to establish himself in 2021. As far as being bullish on the Blue Jays building leads goes, there’s plenty of reasons for optimism but the offseason work isn’t done yet.

AVG+

Blue Jays record: 136

Record holder: John Olerud (1993)

Why it might go down: In the current offensive climate it’s simply a fact that no Blue Jays player is going to top the .363 batting average Olerud managed in 1993. It’s probably not going too far to say that barring major rule changes that push back or lower the mound it can’t be done against modern pitching over an 162-game season.

That said, AVG+ — a metric that measures batting average against the league average, is a different story. No 2022 Blue Jay will be able to say they broke Olerud’s record, but it’s possible they’ll be more impressive relative to their peers than Olerud was relative to his. It’s not as romantic a notion as taking down the raw batting average mark, but it would be impressive.

The Blue Jays have multiple candidates to take aim at Olerud as Guerrero Jr. (127), Bo Bichette (121) and Teoscar Hernandez (120) all posted top-10 marks in team history last season. Guerrero Jr. and Bichette are particularly good candidates as Steamer projects them for the second and fourth highest batting averages in the majors in 2022.

Assuming the league’s offensive environment in 2022 is approximately the same as 2021, breaking Olerud’s 136 AVG+ would take an average of about .333. In the last five full seasons that number has been reached eight times. That’s tough, but not out of the question — and the Blue Jays have a couple of guys taking a bite at the apple. Batting average includes a heavy dollop of luck, and if fortune favors Guerrero Jr. or Bichette they’re capable of producing gaudy numbers.

Home Runs

Blue Jays record: 54

Record holder: Jose Bautista (2010)

Why it might go down: Since Bautista hit 54 round trippers in 2010, only one hitter has bested him (Giancarlo Stanton in 2017) so this qualifies as a longshot. That said, Guerrero Jr. has just six home runs short of this in 2021 and his combination of incredible exit velocity and contact ability gives him the opportunity to pile up home runs. If his trajectory of cutting down ground balls continues he could also give himself more opportunities to put the ball over the wall as off his bat in the air is deadly.

This isn’t a 50-50 proposition, but it’s well within the realm of possibility considering Vladdy’s combination of 2021 production and age-related upside. When it comes to records, there’s nothing more fun that a home run chase (it certainly beats HBP or holds), so if Guerrero Jr. is able to build on the 48 homers he hit last season, it would add an entertaining element to what the Blue Jays hope is a meaningful September.

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.
We use cookies to improve your experience. Learn More or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.
close