Let’s start off by saying this: this is a trivial practice done with the benefit of hindsight that makes me realize what a sad baseball nerd I am.
With that out of the way lets get to the good stuff. I decided to look back the Blue Jays draft choices from 2001-2010 and create my own fantasy line-up. The rules were only that the player had to be a 1st/2nd round pick taken after the Blue Jays slot. Also players selected had to round out a 10 man line-up starting line-up with a slot for the DH. Players can be selected based on the position they settled in at MLB, not the position they were drafted to play.
Year Blue Jays Pick Fantasy Pick
2001 – (OF) Gabe Gross 15th (3B)David Wright 38th
2002 – (SS) Russ Adams 14th (1B) Joey Votto 44th
2003 – (2B) Aaron Hill 13th (OF) Adam Jones 37th
2004 – (P) David Purcey 16th (3B/1B) Trevor Plouffe 20th
2005 – (P) Rickey Romero 6th (SS) Troy Tulowitzki 7th
2006 – (OF) Travis Snider 14th (OF) Jon Jay 74th
2007 – (3B) Kevin Ahrens 16th (C) Travis d’Arnaud 37th
2008 – (1B) David Cooper 17th (2B) Logan Forsythe 46th
2009 – (P) Chad Jenkins 20th (OF) Mike Trout 25th
2010 – (P) DeCk McGuire 11th (P) Chris Sale 13th
There is a reason for this more than just to metaphorically jerk off to this amazing line-up that could have been. By looking back we can see what didn’t work for the Jays before AA took the helm for the 2010 draft. 6 out of 9 first picks this century by the Jays were position players. Compare that to 5 out of 6 first picks being pitchers since 2010.
Anthopolous tactics when it came to drafting over his tenure in Toronto were simple: draft young pitching early and once you have a surplus ship ’em out for major league pieces (Hoffman, Castro, Norris, Boyd, Graveman, Nolin, Syndergaard, DeSclafani, Nicolino…to name a few) and keep your choice cuts (Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna, Hutch). You can argue the merits of that tactic, but one thing is clear without Price, Donaldson, Dickey, Buerhle, Reyes – eventually Tulowitzki, the Jays would not have made the Playoffs in 2015.
Anthopolous knew two things: 1- nothing is valued more than young pitching 2- Trades not free agency was the best way to get impact players to Toronto. Using that knowledge he traded away a ton of talent but eventually put together the best line-up in baseball and still had a handfull of young pitchers in blue and white.
Jp didn’t make horrible trades (he got us Joey Bats for nothing remember) but he didn’t go as bold as Alex did and he didn’t have the minor league talent to do it anyways – because of his terrible drafting.
Now enters a new regime. Cleveland has had great success drafting and developing pitchers. If there is one thing I have faith that Shapiro can do is identify pitching prospects. I have faith no matter what he will draft better than JP did. But now the question is: does he have the audacity to do what Alex did? To build it fast and ship em out faster in the name of improving the team in Toronto right now, while at the same point not completely mortgaging the future?
As you can see the MLB draft is nothing more than a game of roulette but a strong draft and the willingness to depart with prospects is the reason Jays fans saw playoff baseball in 2015. If it were that easy to identify talent and build through only the draft the Blue Jays may look like this:
1 Logan Forsythe 2b
2 Troy Tulowitzki ss
3 Mike Trout cf
4 Joey Votto 1b
5 Adam Jones rf
6 David Wright 3b
7 Trever Plouffe dh
8 Travis d’Arnaud c
9 Jon Jay lf
P Chris Sale