Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos knows his players were inconsistent this year.
The Jays started 2011 with hope and excitement, and were expected to improve upon last season’s 85 wins.
After finishing 81-81, however, Toronto regressed in its attempt to reach the post-season for the first time in 18 years.
“We need to try to take that step forward,” Anthopoulos said on the team’s official site. “That’s going to be the greatest challenge.”
Here’s a look at the Jays’ performances in 2011:
Ricky Romero was a solid ace, finishing with a 15-11 record. His 2.92 ERA was 14th in the American League and his 178 strikeouts were adequate for a staff workhorse.
Brett Cecil, 25, and Kyle Drabek, 23, two young pitchers expected to develop into manageable starters, struggled early and spent large chunks of the season in the minor leagues with triple-A Las Vegas.
Only Romero and Brandon Morrow finished with double-digit wins. Morrow’s year ended 11-11, a representation of a season where he was locked-in one night and couldn’t find the plate the next game.
The bullpen, particularly the closer role was the Jays’ greatest weakness as the team led the majors in blown saves for the majority season before finishing with 25.
“I think the bullpen is an area that we definitely need to try and improve,” said Anthopoulos. “Hopefully we will have some improvements internally with the rotation.”
Right-handed starter Henderson Alvarez made his big league debut, finishing the season 1-3 in 10 appearances, but often went deep into games.
Let’s not forget that Dustin McGowan returned as a starter, showing that he is healthy enough to start next season should he be called upon.
J.P. Arencibia proved that he was the team’s top catcher, knocking in 23 home runs and cashing in 78 RBIs. He needs to improve his arm from behind the plate as he only gunned down 28 runners in 115 attempts.
Adam Lind proved doubters wrong in his first season at first base, only committing four errors while hitting 26 homers and 87 RBIs.
Yunel Escobar, a solid leadoff man, has locked up the shortstop position thanks to the two-year, $10 million US extension.
Rookie third-baseman Brett Lawrie, from Langley, B.C., posted nine homers, four triples, eight doubles and 25 RBIs in only 43 games.
Lawrie committed six errors in his short stint, so his fielding could use some polish, but he is still young, has a ton of upside and brings excitement to the lineup.
Edwin Encarnacion was a solid contributor at third base and may have earned a new contract.
In 2011, Jose Bautista led the MLB in all-star voting and won the home run race once again. “Joey Bats” led the majors with 43 homers and chipped in 103 RBIs while also sporting a .303 batting average.
Rookie Eric Thames served as a nice addition to left field, with Colby Rasmus bringing potential to centre field.
“It’s someone who we felt, with the acquisition cost, there’s definitely a lot of upside to him,” said Anothopoulos of Rasmus. “He definitely stabilized [centre field] for us.”
Rajai Davis tore up the base paths, stealing 34 bases in 95 games before injuries and new players essentially ended his year.
Adam Loewen returned as an outfielder. The Vancouver, B.C. native is a converted pitcher who played 14 games in the outfield for the Blue Birds.