A Fantasy Baseball Guide to the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays

If you play fantasy baseball, you likely spend March pouring over rankings spreadsheets and mock drafting away those lazy Monday afternoons at the office. Don’t worry, we won’t tell. Here at BP, a few local sites have decided to band together to help provide you with some fantasy insights into the players from teams they see more than most. By clicking on their names, you can find great, in-depth pieces from BP Bronx, BP Milwaukee, and BP Wrigleyville, with fantasy reports on the Yankees, Brewers, and Cubs respectively.

Coming off a second straight ALCS appearance, there are plenty of viable fantasy players on this year’s Blue Jays team. Be careful. One of the biggest potential pitfalls of fantasy baseball is overvaluing the players that we watch most closely. On the flip side, we get to see these players more often than everybody else, so we may have some extra insight. So here’s a list of where and when to draft your favorite Jays so they will help, not hurt, your 2017 fantasy baseball teams.

Players Going About Where they Should


Josh Donaldson

Expected Round – 1

PECOTA Projection .278 AVG/31 HR/92 RBI/102 R/6 SB

Donaldson was a no-doubt, first round pick last season and he should be selected in the first round of fantasy drafts again in 2017. Since his injury appears to be behind him, there’s no reason not to take Donaldson towards the end of the first round once again.

Jose Bautista

Expected Round – 7

PECOTA Projection – .253 AVG/31 HR/94 RBI / 89 R/5 SB

Bautista is a player that could be a draft day bargain if he continues to be taken in the 7th round of mixed league drafts. This is admittedly less likely to happen if you play in a league with multiple Blue Jays fans, but if he makes it into the 7th round, he has the upside to provide a significant return on your investment. If he stays healthy, Bautista could hit 30+ home runs with something in the neighborhood of 180 Runs+RBI. These are numbers similar to Kyle Schwarber (pick 67) and Justin Upton (pick 78), who are both coming off the board earlier than Bautista (86). But Bautista staying healthy is no guarantee. At 36-years old and coming off a 116 game season, age and health are the reason to draft someone with his skills in the 7th round and not the 4th or 5th, despite the performance upside. If your league counts OBP instead of batting average, bump him up a round or two as well.

Roberto Osuna

Expected Round – 8

PECOTA Projection – 3W/3.48 ERA/1.21 WHIP/63 K/35 SV

Osuna has been vaulted into near-elite closer status after a strong 2016 campaign. Osuna is now typically being taken as the sixth or seventh closer off the board. Deciding whether or not you want to draft Osuna in the 9th round has more to do with how you value saves than anything. Osuna should put up another strong season and contribute nicely in all standard 5×5 pitching categories other than Wins. It’s all a matter of whether or not you want to pay for saves.

Aaron Sanchez

Expected Round – 9

PECOTA Projection – 11W/ 4.35 ERA/139 K/1.36 WHIP

Sanchez should beat this projection easily, as that would make him undraftable. That said, I would expect an ERA closer to 3.50 than the 3.00 he posted in 2016. Sanchez (107th overall) is currently being taken ahead of Danny Salazar (113), Michael Fulmer (128), Dallas Keuchel (129) and Matt Harvey (131) – all pitchers with similar upside (albeit questions of their own).

The Sanchize is said to be working on his changeup, a pitch that could vault him into elite fantasy status. But until he shows an improved strikeout rate and that he can sustain an ERA in the 3.00 range, don’t reach and grab him before the 9th round.

Marcus Stroman

Expected Round – 12

PECOTA Projection – 13 W/4.05 ERA/ 1.37 WHIP/162 K

After an up and down 2016, Marcus Stroman may be poised for a breakout in 2017. The same breakout that many pegged Stroman for last season. While he struggled mightily at points last season, Stroman finished with a strong second half and changes to his pitch mix that suggest the improvements are sustainable. Just keep in mind that the fantasy baseball community is saying the exact same thing about a whole lot of pitchers this time of year. Carlos Rodon, Matt Moore and James Paxton are all young pitchers with similar upside, statistical improvements in the second half of 2016, and narratives to validate the changes.

Stro should to be a safe bet to beat his PECOTA projection (especially that ugly 1.37 WHIP) whether or not he takes the next step. One thing to remember with Stroman is that he typically doesn’t strike batters out at a high rate – so think more peak Rick Porcello upside than Stephen Strasburg.

Troy Tulowitzki

Expected Round – 12

PECOTA Projection – .270 AVG/22 HR/76 RBI/68 R/ 1 SB

Once the best shortstop in fantasy baseball, the torch has been passed to younger players like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Francisco Lindor. While we shouldn’t expect to Tulo to produce numbers similar to his Rockies prime, his PECOTA projection means he can provide good value if he’s taken in the 12th round. Tulo (136th) is being drafted after Addison Russell (123) and Aledmys Diaz (132) but could provide similar production a round or two later. While Tulo always comes with injury risks, Russell and Diaz also come with their own question marks. Russell has yet to hit for average and his contact profile doesn’t suggest a major breakthrough is coming. Meanwhile, Aledmys Diaz has yet to reach 500 MLB at bats and could see his production drop in his second full season.

Russell Martin

Expected Round – 16

PECOTA Projection – .236 AVG/19 HR/69 RBI/67 R/4 SB

While Martin’s slugging percentage dropped 60 points last season, his fantasy production in 2016 was quite similar to his 2015 campaign. If you can take Martin in a later round (after the 15th), he should be able to provide good value and allow you to fill your roster with better players earlier. If he’s going earlier, you may not get a strong return on your investment. Always one to play through injuries, having Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the roster may keep Martin fresh, and in turn, prevent some of the prolonged slumps he has been prone to in the past.

Marco Estrada

Expected Round -16

PECOTA Projection – 10 W/4.78 ERA/147 K/1.33 WHIP

You’ve probably gotten used to hearing this by now – PECOTA is too low on a Blue Jays starter. Thanks to an elite spin rate, Estrada should post an ERA in the ballpark of 3.50 and a WHIP around 1.15 – not the 4.78 and 1.33 numbers he’s projected for. The potentially interesting fantasy wrinkle for Marco Estrada is that he was able to regain the strikeouts that he lost in 2015 with no drop in his batted ball profile. In fact, he generated more punchouts than his more famous rotation mates last year. Estrada’s 165 strikeouts in 176 innings (8.44 K/9) mean he is able to provide fantasy production in every pitching category minus saves. He also seems to be over his back issues from last year, which limited his innings pitched. Happ and Stroman might be drafted earlier, but if Estrada is able to keep his back healthy, he could provide the best fantasy value. Look to draft him anytime after the 15th round.

Devon Travis

Expected Round – 19

PECOTA Projection .276 AVG/16 HR/65 RBI/77 R/7 SB

Second base looks to be one of fantasy baseball’s deepest positions in 2017. If you decide to wait to fill your second base slot, Devon Travis is one of the late draft options that can provide great (relative) production after the 15th round. Any Jays’ fan knows that the one caveat with Travis is health – so if you do wait and take Travis as your starter, maybe draft another second baseman to keep on your bench in case of injury.



Kendrys Morales

Expected Round – 13

PECOTA Projection – .264 AVG/22 HR/80 RBI/70 R/0 SB

As was well documented when he signed with the Jays in November, Morales could see an uptick in his counting numbers as he moves to a more favorable ballpark and lineup position in Toronto. Hitting behind Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista means that Morales will have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs, and the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre (along with the rest of the AL East ballparks) could see Morales reach career highs in home runs – as Josh Donaldson did when he arrived in Toronto. Something in the 30-33 homer and 100-115 RBI range is not out of the question for Morales. In lieu of a breakout, 25/90 provides a strong floor for a player being taken in the 13th round. Morales is currently being drafted around the same time as hitters like Brandon Belt, Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duval, but he should provide better value than all of these hitters in a standard league.

Be wary of where he qualifies – in leagues with strict requirements, he may not be eligible anywhere other than DH (Utility), while in less stringent formats (Yahoo, we’re looking at you), he may have 1B, DH and OF eligibility. Adjust accordingly.

Francisco Liriano

Expected Round – 28

PECOTA Projection – 11 W/4.21 ERA/177 K/1.41 WHIP

What a difference a year can make. Coming into 2016, Francisco Liriano was a borderline top-100 pick in fantasy drafts. After a less-than-stellar 2017, Liriano has fallen off of the radar of many owners. Liriano should provide owners with plenty of strikeouts and an ERA around 4.00, with clear upside for better. He found his lost release point upon arriving in Toronto (putting up a 2.92 ERA through the end of the year) and is having a very strong spring training. Currently he’s being left on the board past pick 300, but he should provide good value if he’s taken anytime after pick 250.



J.A. Happ

Expected Round – 15

PECOTA Projection – 11 W/4.46 ERA/14 K/1.40 WHIP

There are no strong fantasy bust candidates on the Jays roster this season, but you can’t talk fantasy without talking busts, so Happ may be the closest thing given his current draft position. At risk of sounding like a broken record, Happ should be able to improve on his PECOTA projection. Even with adjusted projections, Happ’s fantasy upside is somewhat limited given his strikeout rate.

Currently being taken 172nd overall, Happ is being drafted before Aaron Nola, Carlos Rodon and Sean Manaea – all pitchers with significantly higher upside. If you’re playing in a deep league where floor is more important than ceiling, Happ is a solid pick in the later teen rounds (think 16 and later). In shallower formats where you need to hit on upside to win your league, leave J.A. on the waiver wire for the time being.

Deeper League Options

Kevin Pillar

Expected Round – 24

PECOTA Projection – .274 AVG/11 HR/55 RBI/63 R/17 SB

Pillar’s free-swinging approach at the plate is less of a problem in fantasy baseball than it is in real life. Stolen bases are as rare as ever, so if you need some steals in a deeper league, he could be worth selecting late. Pillar is being drafted around the same time as Manuel Margot, Brett Gardner, and Leonys Martin and should return similar value. As the Jays only real source of stolen bases, those could disappear if our deepest, darkest fears are realized and he hits leadoff. Lower him in your rankings if you play in an OBP format.

Steve Pearce

Expected Round – 32

PECOTA Projection – .262 AVG/14 HR/48 RBI/44 R/2 SB

Like any player being taken this late in drafts, there are definite risks. In Pearce’s case, those risks are health and a very poor showing in 2015. That said, Pearce could provide some late power and versatility (1B, 2B and OF) in deep leagues. Pearce’s multi-positional eligibility can be especially useful in these formats, as he can be moved as needed to fill in for injured players on your roster as need be without killing your offensive production. Make sure to check where he’s eligible in your home league.

So that’s it. Use these tools and you could end up winning your league. Once again, for similar advice on other teams, check out the BP Locals fantasy reports on the Yankees, Brewers, and Cubs.

Lead Photo: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

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