ALCS Preview: Blue Jays vs. Royals

(Courtesy of National Post)

(Courtesy of National Post)

TORONTO- It’s the rematch of the 1985 ALCS when the Toronto Blue Jays match up against the last year’s AL Champs Kansas City Royals. The Blue Jays are hoping to carry their momentum after they came back from an 0-2 deficient to win the ALDS over the Texas Rangers in five games.

The ALCS is a very crucial series. The winning team will be one step closer to the World Series Championship.

Here is a position by position breakdown for both teams.

Catcher: Blue Jays made a splash in free agency with the signing of Russell Martin. All season long, the Canadian back stopper made a significant impact with the pitching staff. Martin posted a career high with 23 homers and 77 RBI. Meanwhile, Salvador Perez may be the best all around catcher. Perez hit a career high 21 home runs, but doesn’t get on-base as much as Martin does. Advantage: Tough call but leaning towards the Blue Jays by a small margin.

1st Base: The most underrated move that the Blue Jays made was picking off both Justin Smoak and Chris Colabello off waivers. Smoak provides great defence and a bit of power, but Colabello has been the most surprising story for the Blue Jays with his .312 batting average and 15 dingers. Colabello played in the last three games during the ALDS. Look for the Blue Jays to platoon at first base. Eric Hosmer is one of the best all-around first baseman. Hosmer has 18 homers and 93 RBI. He is also been one of the best hitters during the postseason posting a .966 OPS. Advantage: Has great has Colabello been, the Royals has the edge because of Hosmer.

2nd Base: When Devon Travis was shut down because of the shoulder injury, Ryan Goins had been pretty solid for the Blue Jays, especially with his glove. Ben Zobrist has been the most underrated pickup at the trade deadline for the Royals, hitting .284 with 16 doubles and 7 home runs for the Royals. Advantage: Goins has done an outstanding job, but Zobrist is still a better player overall. Royals take this battle.

3rd Base: Josh Donaldson is a clear front runner for AL MVP. Leading the AL with 123 RBI and 122 runs scored. Donaldson posted a 8.8 WAR for his ability with his bat and his glove. After spending much of the 2013 and 2014 season in the minors, Mike Moustakas had a breakout year for the Royals with 22 homers and 82 RBI. Advantage: Though give props for Moose for his career year. However Donaldson is the best third baseman in the league. Huge advantage for the Blue Jays.

Shortstop: Even though Troy Tulowitzki is having some trouble at the plate, his impact helped the Blue Jays in the 2nd half of the season. It may not have been his best season, but still Tulowitzki’s impact alone sparks the Blue Jays both offensively and defensively. Alcides Escobar sparks the Royals at the leadoff spot with great speed and defence. Though his bat decline this season with a .257 batting average. Advantage: Both players had down years, but Tulowizki is still a better overall player. Edge for the Blue Jays.

Left Field: Ben Revere is perhaps one the most underrated pickup for the Blue Jays at the deadline. For a guy who doesn’t hit for power or get one base, Revere provides speed and hard contact at the top of the order for the Blue Jays’ potent line up. Alex Gordon missed most of the 2nd half with a groin injury but Gordon provides gold glove defense and another left handed bat for the Royals. Advantage: Revere remains the catalyst for the Blue Jays, but Gordon remains as one of the best left fielders in the game. Royals take the edge.

Centre Field: Kevin Pillar is a superhero in the outfield thanks for his defence. Though a free swinger, Pillar are a solid year at the plate with 12 homers. Lorenzo Cain took another step forward for the Royals. The all star center fielder has careers highs in almost in every statistics and is the Royals’ best five-tool player. Advantage: Pillar has been the most improved Blue Jays this season, but Cain is a great player. Royals has the advantage there.

Right Field: Jose Bautista has another monster year with 40 home runs and 114 RBI. Bautista hit a cluch 3-run homer to help the Blue Jays advance the ALCS during Game 5 over the Rangers. Former Blue Jays Alex Rios had a down year for the Royals, but still present another right handed bat in the lineup. Advantage: The Blue Jays clearly have the edge with Bautista.

Designated Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion woke up in the 2nd half to bring his overall numbers up to a .277 batting average with 39 homers and 110 RBI. The Blue Jays have three hitters posting more than 30 homers and 100 RBIs with Encarnacion, Donaldson and Bautista. However Kendrys Morales had a great year for them with 22 homers and 106 batting average and could be a candidate for comeback player of the year. Advantage: Tough call here, but Encarnacion has been the most consistent hitter so Blue Jays has the edge there.

Starting Rotation: Marco Estrada will take the mound for Game 1 for the Blue Jays. Acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for Adam Lind, Estrada has been the most reliable starter all season long for the Blue Jays with a 3.13 ERA. Edison Volquez had a solid year during his first season with the Royals with a 3.55 ERA. However, look for Donaldson to have some revenge after he and Volquez had some tension during the regular season which led the benches clearing. Both David Price and Johnny Cueto were both pick up to be their ace for their respected teams. Price made the most impact with the Blue Jays, however Price struggles continues during the postseason. Cueto struggled since being traded to the Royals. Marcus Stroman has been a great storyline for the Blue Jays after he came back from a torn ACL. Stroman pitched well in Game 5 going 6 strong innings and gave up 3 runs. Yordano Ventura has very talent but lack the command with his upper 90s fastball. R.A Dickey could get some work after a solid outing during Game 4 in the ALDS. Advantage: Blue Jays have the edge with their much improved rotation.

Bullpen: The Royals may have one of the best bullpen in the league Wade Davis took over as the closer after Greg Holland underwent Tommy John Surgery. Davis is one dominant reliever with his 0.94 ERA. Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson are both quality set up relievers behind Davis. The Blue Jays have also been a most improved aspect of their game. Led by a 20 year old Roberto Osuna and 23 year old Aaron Sanchez. LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe provide veteran leadership in the Blue Jays’ pen. After losing Brett Cecil with a torn calf, look for Aaron Loup to be their lefty specialist. Advantage: Both bullpens are good, but the Royals may have one of the best bullpen in the game.

Overall, both teams are evenly match up. The ALCS is going to be an intense series and a trip to the World Series is pretty much up for grab. Look for a lot of tensions and drams throughout this entire series. There could be some bad bloods and emotions get into the players. In the end, this is going to be one of the most intense, excited and terrifying match up in MLB history.


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