Lost Season Shines Spotlight on Blue Jays Future
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, September 29, 2019
The Toronto Blue Jays endured a roller coaster 2019.
The team finished with it’s worst record since 1980, when the franchise was still in its infancy. Only four other teams finished with fewer wins this season.
Unceremoniously trading away Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and fan favourite Joe Biagini for questionable returns washed a feeling of unrest over the fanbase.
Blue Jays fans had plenty to voice their displeasure over, but the final message of 2019 is simple:
The kids are alright.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the much-hyped son of former Montreal Expo and Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, played his first game on April 26th. The 20-year old sparked new interest in a team that was averaging fewer than 20,000 fans per game.
MLB.com’s number one prospect had trouble adjusting to major league pitching, resulting in a lukewarm first half in which he hit just eight home runs.
A much-criticized appearance in the Home Run Derby quieted all concerns about Guerrero’s potential. The rookie demolished a total of 91 home runs, 30 more than the single-Derby record set in 2016.
One month after Guerrero got the call, second baseman Cavan Biggio was brought to the big club. The son of former Astro’s second baseman Craig Biggio quickly established himself as a cornerstone of the franchise.
The 24-year old became the seventh-fastest player since 1900 to reach 70 career walks and is currently tied for the second-longest on-base streak amongst second basemen in Blue Jays history.
Bo Bichette was the final member of the Jays’ young second-generation trio to reach the major leagues. The son of former major leaguer Dante Bichette came up and immediately made a splash with the big club.
Bichette set an MLB record within two weeks of being called up, becoming the first player to hit a double in nine straight games.
With the left side of their infield set up for years to come, Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins praised his young core.
“Having watched the progress of our young players, coming together as a team and making significant strides,” said Atkins on Blue Jays Radio on September 22. “Cavan Biggio was clearly ready, Bo Bichette was clearly ready, Vladdy is certainly ready for the challenge.”
In his first year as manager, Charlie Montoyo did an admirable job with the roster he was given and created a culture that players wanted to be a part of.
“It puts a huge smile on my face. It’s been remarkable. It’s not easy to go through a year like this. But Charlie has been awesome,” said Atkins in the same Blue Jays Radio interview. “He’s been everything we could have hoped and then some.
“He’s incredibly positive, incredibly passionate and it feels like he’s been a Toronto Blue Jay his entire life.”
With other promising young players like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Anthony Kay, and Trent Thornton flashing solid potential during the season, Atkins reiterated on Blue Jays Radio that the team is headed in the right direction both now and for the future.
“We feel good about where things are and could not feel more convicted that we’re doing the right thing for this organization.”