2013 Blue Jays Fantasy Preview

USA TODAY Sports

A look at how the Jays can provide value to your fantasy baseball team.

We’re all excited about the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays season. Many of you probably made sure to grab a few Jays for your fantasy squads, thinking a strong team means strong fantasy assets. And you probably weren’t wrong to do so.

But in case you haven’t drafted yet or are still skimming the trading block and waiver wire to fine-tune your championship team, we’re going to break down some of the Jays for fantasy baseball. For the purpose of this article, I will assume that most people play in a fairly standard league – both AL and NL, rotisserie style with the 10 standard categories (W SV K ERA WHIP / AVG R RBI HR SB). I’ll make some notes for alternate formats, but generally assume these are the league types I’m thinking of here.

Sleepers / Undervalued Players

I don’t really like the term ‘sleepers’ because it’s a very relative idea – if you play in a league with all other Jays fans, it’s going to be pretty tough to find a Jay who is a sleeper to the group. Likewise, if you play in an eight-team league with thin rosters, there’s almost not even a point in identifying sleepers. Instead, let’s look at some players who may be undervalued, meaning they are being drafted later than they should be.

Sergio Santos - the saves chase is a grind, but Santos has some nice value as a potential saves source this year. Even if Janssen is ready for opening day, it should only take a chance or two for Santos to lay claim to the role. He has a more "traditional closer repertoire," while the team also gave up a prospect for him and have him under contract for longer. They’ll go with whoever’s successful, but forced to pick I’d guess Santos collects more saves this year. Janssen is being selected around pick 192 in Yahoo drafts while Santos is lasting until pick 254 (with just a 20 percent ownership tag).

Adam Lind - wait, am I not the guy who gets accused of over-hating on Lind? Yeah, I guess. But if you play in a league that allows daily roster changes, you don’t have to deal with ‘bad Lind,’ you can just plug him in against righties and reap his split-happy stats. Lind has just a 10 percent ownership in the Yahoo game, so he’s readily available if you play in a league with enough bench spots to safely platoon him.

Busts / Overvalued Players

The same caveat goes for busts as sleepers – it’s all league and draft position relative. So let’s focus on some potentially overvalued players for the Jays.

Brett Lawrie - Lawrie is the eighth third baseman being taken in Yahoo drafts, costing you the 68th overall pick. I love Lawrie and couldn’t be happier I get to cheer for him all season, but I also think he’s a bit overvalued for fantasy purposes. He was the 16th third baseman in standard production last year, and while projection systems like him to come close to a 20-20 season, you’re paying for a breakout that hasn’t happened yet. Love the player in real life, but I think he’s going a tad early in standard leagues.

Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson - they’re both being picked between 25 and 30 among starters and between 100th and 120th overall, which is completely fine. My only warning here is to make sure you diversify if you nab one of these guys – only eight of the top 25 pitchers last year pitched less than 200 innings, and projection systems don’t like either of these guys to go over 150. Only Kris Medlen cracked the top-25 with less than 150 innings last season. Basically, they’re both excellent pitchers but if you jump earlier than their current ADP, you’re paying for a workload that may not be there.

What the stats say

You can check out the full ZiPS projections here

*Morrow and Johnson combine for 300 innings.

*Dickey regresses (the projection systems have trouble with knuckleballers, I think, since they break the aging curves and there are so few as a comparison).

*Todd Redmond throws 130+ innings (this is your "take these with a grain of salt" warning).

*Four Jays steal 29 bases or more.

*Only one Jay (Bautista) hits 30-plus home runs.

*No Jay bats .300.

Projections and Predictions

Below are the top five Jays hitters being selected and the top three pitchers. I’ve included their ZiPS projection for the season. Any predictions I have are in brackets after.

Pitchers (ADP) – ERA-W-K

R.A. Dickey (52nd pick) – ZiPS: 3.89-13-148 (Struggles early but don’t sell low)

Morrow (107th pick) – ZiPS: 3.97-11-157 (None of those numbers are optimistic enough)

Johnson (120th pick) - ZiPS: 3.68-9-123 (I’ve got nothing - it all comes down to health)

Hitters (ADP) – Avg-HR-SB

Jose Bautista (17th pick) - ZiPS: .266-31-7 (40-plus home runs)

Jose Reyes (27th pick) - ZiPS: .293-12-34 (40-plus steals)

Edwin Encarnacion (31st pick) - ZiPS: .273-28-8 (35 homers but the steals disappear)

Lawrie (68th pick) - ZiPS: .275-19-15 (reaches 20 homers but the steals barely hit double digits)

Melky Cabrera (115th pick) - ZiPS: .294-16-15 (the average is over .300 but the counting stats are lower)

--------------THIS IS THE POST SCRIPT---------

Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball supports SBNation and fantasy league families everywhere. Get better experts, better tools, and better stats with the #1 free fantasy baseball game. This season also features a brand new iPad app, so sign up now. Get ready for opening day with better play on Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Baseball.

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