2024 Toronto Blue Jays O/U: Why the Jays Will Hit the OVER

Let’s face it, the 2023 season was somewhat of a disappointment for the Toronto Blue Jays despite sneaking into the sixth seed in the postseason. It seemed like the 92-win, fourth-seeded 2022 Blue Jays were only going to improve things went sideways fast in 2023. From the stunning collapse of Cy Young finalist Alek Manoah to the elite offense being very average many things didn’t go the way of the bluebird last year.

That being said, the Jays still won 89 games and made the postseason so while they were a little bit worse than 2022, they were still a very good team that relied on elite pitching and defense rather than a potent lineup to get the job done. Looking ahead to 2024, the current O/U for the Jays is 87.5 wins, according to FanDuel. With all the bad luck and things that went sideways last season it’s difficult to envision the Jays continuing to decline with the talent they have, here are three reasons why the Jays will hit the over in 2024.

Why the Jays Will Win More Than 87.5 Games in 2024

The Rotation Is Still Great

Despite the loss of Manoah, the starting rotation was the backbone of this team and without the exceptional performances from the top four in the staff, last season would have been a complete disaster. Ace Kevin Gausman was one of the best pitchers in the game last season and possibly the Jays’ best player, leading the team in fWAR and finishing third among all pitchers. He led one of the best starting staffs in all of MLB. 

He was followed by Jose Berrios who after having by far his worst season in 2022, bounced back in a big way finishing top 30 in the league in fWAR, and newcomer Chris Bassitt who continued his consistently solid performance placing 31st in the same metric. The fourth spot belonged to Yusei Kikuchi who went from being one of the least valuable pitchers in the game in 2022 to 32nd in fWAR in 2023. Start for start all four of these pitchers were very good last year but the most impressive part is that they all threw over 167 innings, making the Jays the only team in the big leagues with four qualified starters.

All four of those players are returning next season and while it’s unlikely they all replicate the performance and volume of last season they’re going to have more help in 2024. Manoah is going to look to rebound and could be a big part of this rotation along with Cuban free agent signing Yariel Rodriguez and even Bowden Francis if needed. This will be one of the best rotations in all of baseball next year and could carry this team to success for long stretches of the season.

Rebound Years From Very Good Hitters

Several players on the Jays last year took a step back, especially on the offensive side. Former top prospect and MVP finalist Vladimir Guerrero Jr is probably the most well-known example, but he was not alone on this roster. Four Blue Jays hitters were in the top 30 largest year-over-year decreases in WAR meaning that there is lots of room for bounce-back seasons.

In 2022 Daulton Varsho was an above-average hitter who slugged 27 home runs while playing elite defense. For whatever reason in 2023 his hitting tanked and he became a well-below-average bat with significantly worse power and on-base ability. His WAR was more than cut in half from 2022 and his barrel rate dropped almost three percentage points.

Also, catcher Alejandro Kirk went from a starter in the all-star game and one of the best offensive catchers in the game to below below-average hitter. His wRC+ plummeted 33 points in 2023 and his hard hit rate fell more than seven percentage points. He still rarely strikes out so if he just gets some of that power back in his bat he should be somewhere closer to his 2022 performance. Both of these guys are young too with Varsho entering his age-27 season and Kirk entering just his age-25 season so both should just be entering their primes.

Perhaps the most important rebounds would be those from Guerrero and veteran George Springer who both had uncharacteristic seasons by their lofty standards. Guerrero is more likely to bounce back for several reasons. Firstly, he is still only 24 years old so he hasn’t even reached his prime yet second all of his expected stats and process metrics were improved from 2022 despite the lack of results meaning he could likely do the same thing he did last year and put up significantly better numbers. As for Springer, he is 34 years old and while he played more than he had in years, this could be the start of his expected decline.

Rebound years from even two or three of these players would remake the offense more than any free-agent signing could. That along with the addition of Justin Turner to the lineup will lead to this team scoring way more runs than last year.

More Contributions From the Young Guys

With all of the inconsistencies in the Jays’ lineup last year there were opportunities for young guys to step up later in the season. Most notable was the sudden emergence of infielder Davis Schneider who put together one of the best starts to a career of all time. He put up a 176 wRC+ and a 2.0 WAR in just 35 games, which means he was as valuable as Varsho over just 24% of the plate appearances. While the 24-year-old was helped by some good luck, to the tune of a 71-point difference between his wOBA and xWOBA he still showed that he could be a very solid MLB regular.

Schneider wasn’t the only up-and-comer to make an impact either, 26-year-old Spencer Horwitz and 27-year-old Ernie Clement both proved a lot in their brief time with the big league club. In his brief stint with the Jays, first baseman Horwitz provided above-average offense with a solid approach at the plate that led to above-average on-base and chase percentages.

As for Clement, the infielder used his aggressive approach to hit .380 in 52 plate appearances striking out just 7.7% of the time and whiffing on just 10.1% of pitches. Those are all extremely impressive numbers and he did it while playing above-average defense at second base. This is not to mention some of the good prospects close to the big leagues like Orelvis MartinezAddison Barger, and Leo Jimenez who all look to make their debuts at some point next season. If even a couple of those players can make some contribution to the major league squad this offense gets a whole lot deeper.

While the competition has certainly gotten tougher in the high-powered AL East the Blue Jays are in a very good position to hit the over on FanDuel’s line of 87.5. If everything goes right for this team in 2024 we could be talking about a deep playoff run north of the border and the reasons above show that a big year for the Blue Jays is more than in the cards. Look for this team to shake up the AL East and find themselves in the postseason for the third straight season.

Main Image: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

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