When considering Major League Baseball’s 2014 World Series contenders, the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t exactly the first team that pops into your head.
The fact is we’ve seen this team start off strong before only to crash and burn by the time the All-Star break rolls around. Supporters almost expect a collapse at this point. The fans want to believe, but their gun-shy at this point. They don’t want to go all and invite the prettiest cheerleader in school to the prom for fear of yet another ego-crushing rejection.
It’s understandable, of course. The Blue Jays haven’t been to the playoffs since they won the World Series in 1993. That’s a long history of losing shouldered by an entire nation.
The Jays they were favored to win the 2013 World Series after bringing in the likes of R.A. Dickey and Jose Reyes, but that didn’t go as planned. Injuries plagued the team and the squad struggled to find a rhythm with a lot of new pieces in the puzzle.
Could this year be different though? Toronto opened the year at +1300 to win the World Series, almost double the price the club opened with the season before. However, the Jays are heading into the last week of June sitting in first place of the AL East. That’s dropped their World Series odds all the way down to +800. Only four teams are ahead of them on the odds board – Oakland (+600), Los Angeles Dodgers (+700), San Francisco Giants (+700), and the Detroit Tigers (+800).
Toronto leads the majors with 95 home runs and averages better than 4.6 runs for game – good for fourth in the bigs. Still, a team that relies so much on the long ball is bound to go through some slumps and that’s just what we’re seeing right now.
The Jays head into Friday night’s visit with the Cincinnati Reds after getting swept in New York. Now, the team’s already looking for answers with the Yankees now just 1 ½ games back in the AL East race. Toronto is just 3-10 in its last 13 and is a +135 underdog against the Reds.
Are the Jays a real World Series contender? Right now, no. They don’t have nearly enough pitching depth and could use some depth in the lineup. That’s not to say they can’t fill those needs though. This is the time of year some GMs begin planning for next year and you’d better believe Alex Anthopoulos is already kicking tires.
Of course, we’re probably getting ahead of ourselves talking about World Series contenders this early in the season anyway, but if the Jays stay healthy and add a few pieces, postseason baseball might finally be coming north of the border again.