The Best of BP Toronto: Our Favourite Pieces of the Year

It’s been an interesting last twelve months in Blue Jays land. From a near World Series berth to only narrowly edging out the Baltimore Orioles to finish above last place in the AL East. No matter whether the tone of the time has been happy or sad, we feel like our writers have done a great job covering the team. As such, we’ve had them each choose their favourite piece that they’d written in the last year so that we could highlight it here again. Below are those pieces in chronological order along with a brief explanation and justification from the writer themselves.


Mark Shapiro, Alex Anthopoulos, and the Failures of Change — Matt Gwin


“Regime change is incredibly tough and Shapiro and Co. needed to understand that; they didn’t. And for me, the front office story lines of the past two seasons have been some of the team’s most interesting. The change from the silent, but brash Alex Anthopoulos to the unrestrained, but demure Shapiro and Atkins was chief among them. To this day, Rogers lives with the PR nightmare that they created by preemptively hiring Alex’s boss in the team’s most exciting season since 1993.”


The 9 Best Blue Jays Free Agent Signings — Andrew Arnold


“As we approach free agency, it’s fun to look back at the best moves the club has made over the years. As you’ll find, there’s been a mixed bunch”


Four Blue Jays Mega Moves That Almost Happened — Nick Dika


“It’s a look back at some of the most impactful trades that almost changed the course of the franchise. When we heard that the Jays were close to acquiring Andrew McCutchen, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at some of the other impact players that there were oh-so-close to playing in Toronto.”


John Gibbons is a Modern Day Bobby Cox — Elie Waitzer


“The article puts Gibbons’ ejection rate into historical context. I had a lot of fun researching, and who doesn’t love Gibby?”


Russell Martin on the Art of Pitch Calling: A Masters in Communication — Joshua Howsam


“Martin was fantastic to talk to about pitch calling, a subject that has always fascinated me. The fact that he provided some very cool answers was only a bonus.”


The Nastiest Fictional Pitchers of All Time — Ewan Ross


“Using Mike Sonne’s famed STUFF metric to its fullest, the BP Toronto staff used science (!!!) to find the nastiest fictional pitcher of all time. Baseball analysis is awesome when its detailed and teaches you things about the game. However, its also awesome when the analysis is just dumb fun. This piece was dumb fun, but also incredibly exciting to both write and read. Don’t watch Trouble With The Curve.”


Roberto Osuna and the Cutter Holding His Slider Hostage — Kyle Matte


“A pitcher introducing something new to his arsenal can sometimes subtract more than he’s adding. As such, I found the article to be thought provoking. It seemed like a really bad take early in 2017 when Osuna was crushing it with his cutter, but a much better take when he became overly reliant on it and lost the feel for his other pitches late in the season.”


How Kevin Pillar Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Plate Discipline — Gideon Turk


“This article goes behind the scenes of the process of Kevin Pillar’s attempt to stop swinging at bad pitches. It was interesting to keep track of his plate discipline statistics for the Spring Training month and then discuss the numbers with him to find out what he was doing differently at the time. Kevin may even want to re-read this one…his late season self could probably learn a thing or two.”


Why Smart Teams’ Stadiums Are Never Empty — Bennett Brauer


“I love off-season sales, and I always get asked what goes on in the off-season in the minor leagues. This pieces details precisely what teams are doing and why what they’re doing is so important for a successful season from a business perspective.”


Why are Blue Jays Fans Masochists? — Rachael McDaniel


“This article tries to figure out why we still care about this bad, bad team and it’s unfortunately still fairly relevant today. This was pretty ambitious at the time, given that it was the second thing I’d ever wrote about baseball,  and it was a fun departure from my usual writing style. You too can understand why you love the Blue Jays.”


Marcus Stroman is Unapologetically Good and That’s Not a Bad Thing — Richard Lee-Sam


“Stroman is young and fun, baseball fans are boring and old. I liked the article because Marcus Stroman’s pitching isn’t the only thing that makes him great; he’s a personality. He’s good for a game that needs younger fans.”


The Beauty of Baseball and Learning to be Better — Jenn Smith


“This article provides a look at discrimination present both in and outside the game, and seeks to explain how we can learn from it. One needs to look no further than the NFL’s anthem controversy to understand that this piece is still obscenely relevant. Political and social issues creep into the sports world and we can’t ignore it.”


Dear Joe Natale, It’s Time to Sell the Blue Jays — Jon Shell


“Selling the team is better for Rogers, the Blue Jays, and pretty much everyone else. I enjoyed writing the piece, and I think the argument is correct. Based on the analysis within, I firmly believe that a new, independent, non-corporate owner would run payroll up to $180-190M and make the most of 2018. Perhaps surprisingly, I even conclude that the aforementioned scenario would be a plus for Rogers.”


Mid Season Workloads – Fatigue Units for the Toronto Blue Jays — Mike Sonne


“Workload is about more than pitch counts and innings. The Blue Jays early season struggles caused a lot of their more reliable pitchers to work much harder than normal. This piece aimed to show just how hard they were being pushed, and it was the first sign for me that Ryan Tepera was really going to be a key piece for the team moving forward.”


Being Realistic About The Jays At the Deadline — Dave Church


“At a time in which opinions on what they Blue Jays should do at the deadline ranged from selling off the entire 25-man roster to buying up another aging superstar, I tried to take a measured look at Toronto’s trade deadline situation.”


Aaron Sanchez’s Latest Blister Woes are a Fitting Unofficial End to the Season — Mike Passador


“Regardless of the standings, Aaron Sanchez’s poor final start was the nail in the coffin. I felt that the whole game was emblematic the Jays’ season, from the injuries to the bad breaks to the misplays, and it was fun (in a sad way) to sort through all the letdowns and piece everything together once Sanchez’s quotes lined up nicely with larger events.”


Jays Walk Away: Can You Make a Walkoff Walk Worse — Greg Wisniewski


“I attempt to coin the phrase ‘#shrimpcocktail’ for the worst way for a pitcher to end a ballgame. The piece required real research, but managed to make light of a Blue Jays team exploring the depths of it’s futility.”


The Danny Jansen Interview — Sean Addis


“The opportunity to get to do a story using both a video interview and game action was a nice, new storytelling element. Being able to do it while also getting to know a future Blue Jay was the bonus. Jansen ended up being a great interview and has a storyline built in to his 2017 season.”


How the Blue Jays Should Handle Their 2018 Catcher Conundrum — Cole Nefsky


“This article outlines the set of problems and potential solutions with regards to the Blue Jays future catcher conundrum.”


Analyzing the Josh Donaldson Extension in Two Parts — Tammy Rainey


“I made the case that a Donaldson extension is both affordable and wise, and I stick by it. The piece attempts to challenge the ‘Toronto can’t sign Josh’ that is inherent to any extension discussion surrounding the former MVP.”


The Most Exciting* Blue Jays Wins of 2017 — Andrew Munn


“The original idea for this piece eventually led me into into writing about baseball, and and the end result reminded me of some really fun moments in an otherwise forgettable season.”


Lead Photo: Peter Llewellyn — USA Today Sports

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