Toronto's Rogers Centre suppresses home run output by about 1 percent, according to traditional team-adjusted park factor calculations. Fascinatingly, though, the primary reason isn't the park's dimensions. In fact, as a percentage of total outfield flies, the park sees 19 percent more home runs than expected.
The reason: Teams playing at the Centre have hit the ball into the ground a full 2 percent more often than the same teams playing elsewhere, the fifth-highest rate of grounders in the league. Thus, getting the ball into the air in the first place represents half the battle.
John Buck, the Jays' new catcher, hits a ton of flyballs, often for power, and moves from the Kansas City Royals' homer-stealing Kauffman Stadium to Toronto.
The staff is a much better real-life asset than potential fantasy goldmine. The really tough thing to predict: Who will pitch, how much and when?
Eight or nine hurlers will battle for rotation spots, and roughly a dozen candidates will vie for whatever slots remain in the bullpen. Toronto has preached the virtue of groundballs, and many of the club's talented starters are buying in.
There is not a great deal of optimism for any of the Jays' three closer candidates - Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg. The holdovers - Frasor and Downs - have been rumored to be trade bait, though. Manager Cito Gaston is comfortable splitting the duty, like he did in during his second World Series campaign, in 2003.
Alex Gonzalez is a slight defensive improvement over Marco Scutaro at shortstop and makes the Jays' infield very strong. That's crucial for the pitching philosophy, so expect Jays pitchers who emerge to appreciate his efforts.
About Matt Trueblood
Matt is a journalism student at Loyola University Chicago. The guest contributor is a featured Chicago Cubs columnist on the Bleacher Report as well as a contributor to hotstove.com. Matt envisions himself as both a writer and analyst and strives to deliver pieces that are both well-researched and thought-provoking. He work first appeared on KFFL.com in February 2010.
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