The Toronto Blue Jays’ 32-28 record last season earned the franchise its first postseason appearance in four years, and some lofty expectations for 2021.
Adding 3x All-Star outfielder George Springer along with veteran shortstop Marcus Semien has only bolstered them.
Semien didn’t waste any time making his impact felt, by homering on Opening Day, and then again on Monday.
— MLBbro.com (@MLBbrodotcom) April 5, 2021
After seven years with the Houston Astros, a six-year, $150M contract lured Springer (2017 World Series MVP) to the AL East. Springer’s debut was delayed due to a Grade 2 oblique strain that put him on the IL to start the season, though the Jays expect him to join the lineup any day now.
George Springer is “doing really well,” per Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo.
Next step in Springer's recovery from an oblique strain is taking live batting practice on Tuesday. He's eligible to come off IL on Thursday.
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) April 5, 2021
So the multi-tooled Soul Patroller can do more of this…
GEORGE SPRINGER GO OFF!
2nd home run today! pic.twitter.com/111mG2Zbnq
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 6, 2020
There aren’t too many questions about Springer’s durability. From 2016-20 he played in almost 90 percent of the Astros’ games. He’s known for being one the toughest players in the sport.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) September 6, 2019
He remains one of the most productive hitters in the game too. During last season’s shortened schedule, Springer finished in the American League’s top ten in home runs, runs batted in, and runs scored.
We mentioned Toronto’s baby-booming infield, but Springer also has some outfield mates who can cause damage. He’s a seamless fit in an outfield that returns Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, and Randal Grichuk. The trio combined to bat .289 with 39 homers, 102 RBI, and scored 99 times.
Springer is excited to be joining the Blue Jays young core, he and Semien will be the only players over 30 years old in the regular rotation.
The Astros lost 92 games in Springer’s first year in the majors. Surrounded by another collection of rising stars, he was holding a World Series trophy three seasons later.
He sees something familiar with Toronto.
"I think the young core is very, VERY impressive! Bichette, Biggio, Guerrero, Gurriel…" – George Springer 👀 pic.twitter.com/y8ESk9ehzN
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) January 27, 2021
Brought to the Great White North on a one-year, $18 million deal, Marcus Semien has both a new team and a new position in Toronto.
With Bo Bichette holding it down at short, Semien slides over to second base. The Jays instantly get better defensively, good news for a team that finished in the bottom third of the AL in fielding.
Semien led all American League shortstops in fielding % in 2019 (.981). Last season, his numbers took a slight dip, but the move to second provides a great opportunity for a bounce back campaign.
The addition of Semien deepens the roster. As much as the Blue Jays may value Semien’s defensive acumen, what Toronto and its fans are really hoping that they get the 2019 Marcus Semien at the plate.
After his best season in the bigs, Semien finished third in the voting for AL Most Valuable Player, and second in Wins Above Replacement (8.6).
He led the Jays with three homers during Spring Training, though those accounted for one-third of his hit total.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 17, 2021
If Toronto is getting the Semien that played all 162 games for the Oakland A’s while batting .285 with 33 home runs, 92 RBI, 123 runs scored, and an .892 OPS, the Blue Jays could have one of the elite offensive middle infields in all of baseball.
Last season was more of a struggle for the 30-year-old, some of which has to be attributed to the disjointed nature of the COVID-inflicted season. He did get better as the season went along, raising his OBP by 28 percent and his OPS by 23 percent from July to September and still finishing with a positive WAR figure.
If Toronto is to reach its potential, Marcus Semien and George Springer should be major catalysts.
For a Blue Jays franchise that hasn’t been to the World Series in almost 30 years, and that spent nearly $200 million in free agency, they have to be.