In this guest post from Kyle Matte, he looks at the stellar rookie season being put together by Marcus Stroman, and the potential for it to become an historic one (in Blue Jays terms, at least) if he’s able to keep up his current pace. Follow Kyle on Twitter at @KyleMatte.

Way back in February, I wrote an article for Drunk Jays Fans in which I looked at all of the Blue Jays number one prospects (according to Baseball America) dating back to 1983. Despite suggestions to the contrary in the comments section, it was not an attempt to predict the specific future of Aaron Sanchez, but instead to share as much information as possible from the historical record of this organization’s number one prospects that shows the steep learning curve at baseball’s highest level. The average number one prospect progressed on a slow, linear scale (roughly 1 WAR in year one, 2 WAR in year two, 3 WAR in year three), and given the lack of success developing top prospect pitchers, I wanted to stress patience with Aaron Sanchez, as it would be unfair to expect him to light the world ablaze immediately upon reaching Toronto.

Then Marcus Stroman happened. While not necessarily the Blue Jays unanimous number one prospect (many evaluators and prospectors were split between he and Sanchez), the pair was 1A and 1B in some regard. Everyone knows Stroman is having an excellent rookie season. What many don’t realize is the potentially historic nature of his inaugural year.

Marcus Stroman has made five relief appearances and thirteen starts, earning -0.1 WAR in the former and +2.2 WAR in the latter for a total of +2.1 WAR this season. He’s done this in just 86-and-a-third innings, no less. That production ranks second amongst Blue Jays pitchers behind only Mark Buehrle, who has earned 0.2 more WAR in his 63 additional innings.

As previously mentioned, when inspecting Stroman specifically as a starter, he has produced 2.2 wins in 13 starts – or roughly 0.17 WAR per start. After Wednesday’s game, the Blue Jays will have 40 remaining on their schedule, with Stroman tentatively scheduled to pitch eight of them. The club continues to give no indication that they intend to limit or shut down the right hander over the season’s final months, and should they remain in the thick of the playoff race, I suspect they’ll remain true to their word (or lack thereof). If Stroman continues to produce at a pace of 0.17 WAR per start, he’ll earn another 1.4 wins over the remainder of the season. Those 1.4 wins would raise his season total to 3.5 WAR, and place him in elite company amongst Blue Jays rookies.

Currently, the two best rookie seasons by pitchers belong to Mark Eichhorn and Gustavo Chacin, who produced 5.1 WAR (157 IP) and 3.3 WAR (203 IP) in 1986 and 2005 respectively. Should Stroman continue to play the way he has, he should surpass Chacin despite making significantly fewer starts and having far fewer innings in which to accumulate value. When expanding the criteria to include position players, Eric Hinske slides into the picture thanks to his excellent 4.6 WAR season in 2002. Really consider this for a moment: in the 38 years of Toronto Blue Jays baseball, Marcus Stroman is on pace to have the third best rookie season ever.

As a reminder, to attain this level of value, Stroman will need to continue pitching like one of the better pitchers in baseball while avoiding the dreaded shut down. Stroman has averaged 6.15 innings per start, and should he maintain that rate over his final eight starts, he’d finish the year with 135.2 innings in Toronto and 35.2 innings in Buffalo. That 171.1 inning total would be a significant increase upon his 2013 workload of 123.1 innings [plus however much he worked while suspended for 50 games -- AS], and one that may be too great for the organization to risk. Still, given all we know about Stroman’s ability and attitude, I wouldn’t put it past him.

Would it be enough to win the American League Rookie of the Year? In a word, no. Major League Baseball considers both Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu to be “rookies” despite starring in the Japanese and Cuban professional leagues respectively for years, and the two are/were having exceptional seasons. Tanaka was in the early running for the Cy Young award before succumbing to an elbow injury, while Abreu has produced 4.0 WAR, leads the world in home runs with 31, and likely finds himself in the MVP discussion (or in the discussion for second place behind Mike Trout and his playoff-bound Angels, at least).

That meaningless award should be of no consequence to Blue Jays fans, however. After years of having our dreams fall by the wayside, it appears as though the club has finally developed the home-grown star we’ve always coveted from afar, and have lacked since Roy Halladay. And, most important of all, he’s all ours until through least 2020.

Comments (64)

  1. I haven’t even begun to delve into the numbers, but I was amazed that Juan Guzman wasn’t among those top Blue Jays’ pitching performances.

    • Just took a gander at Mark Eicchorn’s 1986 season and it was a beauty. Should have won rookie of the year, instead he was a distant 3rd:

      1986 AL ROY voting
      1) Jose Canseco (WAR 2.9)
      2) Wally Joyner (WAR 3.3)
      3) Mark Eicchorn (WAR 5.1)

    • He also had 3.3 WAR (by FanGraphs) in 1991, his rookie season.

      When originally doing the research Chacin was at 3.5, but that took into account the 0.2 he earned in 2004 (he carried rookie eligiblity into 2005). When I removed the 0.2 I neglected to see if that would tie him with anyone else. My apologies.

  2. Stroman has been the highlight of the season.

    • It’s kind of ridiculous how most fans would already consider Stroman the favorite to start the play-in Wild Card game should we manage to get there.

      Ridiculous in a very good way.

  3. im excited for a rotation down the road that looks like:


  4. I did not think Chacin was ever that good, guess it was all down hill from there (other than the cologne).

    • Cha-chiiiiin!

      • I was fond of ol’ Gustavo in his Blue Jay days… Which eventually must’ve had to do with something other than the numbers he put up. Some guys you still like even after they go to shit


    • I liked Chacin, even if he wasn’t that good.

      And, of course, the Chacin perfume thing.

      • I have instant image of Brett Cecil when I think Chacin, did he not have goggles too? And lefty? Oh those Blue Jays!

  5. This article cheered me up a little.

    I wonder if the reason the mood is so sour is because we’re all sleep deprived from staying up/trying to stay up to watch the Jays get swept? You’re not yourself when you’re tired.


    Some credence to the claims of the O’s being not as good as their record suggests.

    • No actually you are as good as your record, because you know that’s the point of baseball to win games, not to please the sabr geeks.

      • Or you could read the piece and potentially learn something instead of just dismissing it flippantly and saying “geeks!”

      • This is clearly false. Things like strength of schedule obviously make a difference.

  7. Stoeten’s Toronto Life article (Feb?) on Stroman:

    Right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman is the prospect to watch. He may already be among the club’s top four or five starters, but he’ll likely start the year in the minors, partly to delay his eventual free agency, and partly because he can be freely moved to and from the minor leagues, while some of the veterans also vying for the spot can’t be sent down without first allowing any other team to claim them. Historically, very few right-handed starters of Stroman’s small stature (he’s generously listed at 5’9”, but it’s accepted that he’s shorter) have had success in the majors, but a hard fastball, filthy slider, and improving changeup give him a legitimate chance to buck that trend.

  8. Fuck. I’m sorry for being a downer, but this post is absolute fucking garbage.

    Stroman looks awesome SO FAR. Can we not do the typical Toronto fan thing and crown him as the next Roy Halladay already?

    This is not a historic rookie season. Not by a LONG FUCKING SHOT.

    And even by using your own metric, the other standouts were Mark FUCKING Eichhorn and Gustavo FUCKING Chacin.

    “After years of having our dreams fall by the wayside, it appears as though the club has finally developed the home-grown star we’ve always coveted from afar.”


    Don’t get me wrong, I hope that Stroman IS the next Halladay. But he could also be the next Chacin. Don’t fucking make stupid judgements on them so fucking early.

    And don’t fucking try to tell me that this is “historic.”

    • So many f-bombs. Does someone need a hug?

      I mean, you’re not wrong but so much anger. Lol

    • Jesus. I barely know where to start…. Here goes:

      It IS historic for precisely the reasons outlined. Namely that he’s potentially on his one to one of the three best rookie seasons every for a Blue Jays. That. Is. Historic.

      Second, you’re the one drawing wild conclusions here. No one is actually idiotic enough to not realize that Stroman could just as easily collapse as he could succeed. For you to assume that we DON’T realize that is “absolute fucking garbage” and really you’re just looking for an excuse to fight.

    • he’s not even compared to halladay in anyway except we havent have a starting pitcher homegrown with significant potential and a fantastic rookie season to boot SINCE freakin halladay. Not Halladay = Stroman. big difference.

      He also said it’s a historic rookie JAYS season, not in MLB history dum dum.

      And those two stand outs mentions didnt have great MLB careers, but had filthy amazing rookie seasons. SO WHATEVER.

      • Eichorn’s career really wasn’t that bad. 15 WAR is nothing to scoff at.
        I wonder why he didn’t last as a starter. Looking at his numbers it was probably his walk rate. Everything else looks pretty f-in solid.

      • So you’re saying that the real point of this post is to show that Stroman is having a good rookie year.

        Breaking fucking news.

        • Yes that is exactly the point of this post you negative crybaby.
          Jesus Christ.

        • Find me a fansite that doesn’t have an occasional fluff piece. And this fluff piece is far more interesting then gag-inducing interviews about the parents taking him to games. Instead, this helps put in perspective how great he’s been compared to other rookie seasons we’ve got excited over in the past.

          Stromon has been awesome and fun to watch. This piece lets you bask a little in that. If you understood happiness, you’d get it.

    • It’s too early to tell any way
      Go fuck yourself angry little man

      • Too early to tell is exactly my point.

        • No, you’re right. It’s too early to tell if he’ll be in the Hall, so we should probably just keep all our mouths shut unless we have something negative to say that makes others feel the shitty feeling we constantly feel inside. Because if we make others feel shtty, our differential shittiness is lower and that makes us feel better.

          This is the true meaning of life. Go about and make others feel worse than they did before encountering you.

  9. stroman is legit. however, tommy john always lurks in the bushes

  10. kyle likes to pat himself on the back for stating the obvious.

    • Why do you fucking care

    • Jesus Fucking Christ. Who the fuck do you people think you are. The guy writes an article which delivers some information on a topic that he chose to write about. If you don’t appreciate the piece or don’t think it’s valuable then DON’T FUCKING SPEND TIME ON IT.
      Who the fuck do you think you are that we should give a shit that you think the piece was “useless” or that it was obvious?
      Do you think you have some right to review and approve every piece that’s written before it goes on the internet?
      Jesus Christ get over yourselves.

  11. Did the Jays really “develop” Stroman? He pitched 166 innings in the organization before being brought up. One could argue that the good people over at Patchogue-Medford HS had a bigger hand in “developing” him. I hear they’re really nice people there.

    • If you compare the changeup and cutter he throws now to what he had at Duke, its a significant development.

    • I’ll bet you 20 bucks that if he wasn’t developed you would blame the jays but now they get no praise?

      What about developing Alvarez, Syndergaard, Nicolino, etc etc

      Should we praise the mets and marlins? or their college/HS?

  12. Nice article. I love Stro. Have to wonder if Jays made a mistake keeping Sanchez in the pen? I suppose if they begin using him as long relief with Redmond for when Happ/Hutch/Buehrle falter his value will be just the same.

  13. Cool article. Thanks Kyle. Also IMW, good work in the comments section, but it might not be worth it. They are probably just trolling from summer school. Or maybe camp and they are upset that they miss their mommy.

  14. […] Kyle Matte of DJF examines Marcus Stroman‘s potential historic, by Blue Jays standards, season. Before Stroman’s last start he was on pace to produce the third highest wins above replacement total by a Blue Jays rookie ever and still has a shot at surpassing Gustavo Chacin‘s 3.3 WAR, which Stroman would do in far fewer starts if it’s accomplished. […]

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