With a record of 85-77 in 2010, the Toronto Blue Jays would have contended in any division in baseball except the one in which they play. The AL East, perhaps the most competitive division in MLB’s history, produces the type of talent—save the poor Orioles—GM's salivate over.
While the Yankees and Red Sox are big-market, big-spending, big-producing clubs, even middle tier clubs like Tampa Bay hone their talents by playing against giants and eventually step up to challenge the throne. So, only four games back of the Sox last year, and a stretch of bad luck away from competing for at least the Wild Card, what are the Jays’ odds to get over the hump next season?
The Blue Jays have been building to compete against their division; by doing this, of course, they subsequently become a pain in the backside for every other team on their schedule. Finishing up 10-8 against the Yankees, Toronto made great strides and are only looking to improve going forward.
Right now, the Blue Jays are looking at around 40:1 to make the playoffs and 50:1 to get to the World Series, according to most sports books and internet casinos out there. Boston and New York, conversely, are 5:1 and 13:2 – worlds apart on paper, no doubt.
But Toronto hasn’t been asleep at the wheel. While most of the AL East has been improving (the Rays almost completely rebooted), the Blue Jays attacked the off-season like they meant business, dumping an aging and underperforming Vernon Wells to clear up $86 million. This leaves a lot of possibilities open moving forward.
Kyle Drabek, the center of the Roy Halladay trade in 2009, is primed to make his mark on the league this season. Frank Francisco has joined the club to be a major contributor out of the bullpen. And last year's MLB homerun leader Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and newcomer Juan Rivera are all primed to have big years swinging the bats.
Realistically, Toronto is only going to improve, putting their odds a little better than the 50:1 they’re pulling now. If Tampa Bay drops off at all, which they’re bound to now that they’ve dismantled the team, the door is open for the Blue Jays to move up a rung.
This leaves the powerhouse teams – Boston and New York. These teams deliver a huge hurdle, but Boston finished third last year with no guarantee they’ll be better, despite some serious additions to their roster. In addition Toronto was able to best New York often enough last year, meaning the Blue Jays certainly have enough confidence to thump the Evil Empire going forward.
Now, we’re not predicting a first-place AL East finish for Toronto next season. If we wanted to take a gamble that big, we’d at least try some blackjack online – at least it may pay off. But we’re also not sleeping on the Blue Jays. We predict a solid 94-68, good enough for a Wild Card berth.
Where it goes from there, well, we’ll just have to wait and see. Bring on baseball!
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