Grades for Blue Jays players at the 1/3 mark of the season

Here's how the performance of each key Blue Jays player grades out as we head into June.

The Toronto Blue Jays are about a third of the way through their season. There’s been a hefty melange of good and bad through 55 games, but the club is still very much in contention, even when sitting near the bottom of a jam-packed AL East.

Toronto imported some new players, like Kevin Kiermaier, who’ve smashed expectations and contributed in big ways. Other guys, such as Daulton Varsho, are battling to meet league averages. With that in mind, let’s assign a few letter grades to the Blue Jays roster.

Bo Bichette: A+

This guy’s a machine. Already a frantic contact hitter who leads MLB in hits (78) and tops the junior circuit in average (.331), Bichette has sprinkled in a tinge of power, too. His 11 homers are tops among Jays hitters, and he’s also dramatically slashed his strikeout rate to a career-low 14.8%.

In a playoff scenario with the bases loaded and the game on the line, Toronto would want Bichette at the dish. He’s been the Blue Jays’ best player this year, plain and simple.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr: B+

When the season began, Guerrero showed the plate discipline needed to return him to the MVP form he flashed in 2021. But his OBP has since tumbled from .394 in April to an ugly .308 in May. It’s painful to watch the 24-year-old overextend and chase pitches out of the zone, especially with his terrifying plate presence.

If the season ended today, Guerrero’s numbers would be nearly identical to 2022. That earns him a B+. With so much baseball talent coursing through this kid’s veins, his ceiling is far higher than a low-.800 OPS.

Matt Chapman: A-

Chapman’s raging month of April juiced his statline, but we’ve seen things even out through 54 games. In May, the 30-year-old has slashed .191/.265/.286, shrinking him to a mild threat at the dish. With Chapman’s defensive pedigree, the Jays would be ecstatic if he finished the year with an .844 OPS; the Jays third baseman just needs to refine his pitch selection and get back to crushing balls in the gap.

Matt Chapman has been in fine form for the Blue Jays again this season. (Getty)
Matt Chapman has been in fine form for the Blue Jays again this season. (Getty)

Daulton Varsho: C

Varsho is still doing his job. He’s second on the team with eight homers; he plays excellent defence and offers a different look as a lefty. Through a third of the season, though, the Jays need more consistency. Varsho has offered plenty of damage potential, but he’s not reaching base nearly enough (.277 OBP) to make an impact on the bags — and that’s when Toronto gets his full value.

It’s a long season, and the tide is bound to turn. For now, though, he gets a subpar letter grade.

Kevin Kiermaier: A

The Blue Jays have a new superman in centre field. Kiermaier has outplayed his one-year, $9-million contract by batting .319, slugging .511, and wowing Jays fans with gymnastics on defence. If the season ended today, the 33-year-old’s 2.4 WAR would be second on the club behind Bichette. That’s good stuff right there.

Alek Manoah: D

There hasn’t been anything uplifting from Manoah’s early sample. Through 11 starts, he’s last among MLB starters with a 6.37 BB/9 and his 5.53 ERA (only worsened by a 6.42 xERA) is jarring. So, what’s wrong with the right-hander? Are there pitch clock issues? Have his mechanics fallen apart?

Manager John Schneider thinks the Jays have a beat on his delivery issues, but he wants more strikes. More than anything, Manoah needs to get the ball over the plate. As a pitcher, it’s hard (impossible, more like) to accomplish anything if you can’t keep hitters honest. Each Manoah outing this year has been a walk-a-palooza, and for that, the 25-year-old gets a tough grade.

Kevin Gausman: A

The lanky right-hander has been downright filthy. Gausman has twirled a quality start in eight of 11 outings and racked up an 11.7 K/9 in the process. Shohei Ohtani (90) is currently the only AL pitcher with more strikeouts than Gausman (89).

If Game 1 of the Wild Card Series is tomorrow, Gausman would get the ball, and the Blue Jays would be deeply confident about their chances.

Chris Bassitt: B

Despite a few laser-show outings that increased his ERA, Bassitt has been dependable this season. The right-hander is composed under pressure and excellent at pacing himself through his starts. All told, Bassitt’s been quite good at suppressing hard contact, allowing a career-low 6.8 H/9. That’s an exceptionally low statline from a number-two or number-three starter.

Erik Swanson: B+

Thanks to some untimely homers and walks, Swanson owns an unsavoury 4.26 FIP in his first year with the Blue Jays. Beyond that, though, he’s been a near-automatic eighth-inning guy. The righty has allowed just 13 hits in 25.1 innings, and his splitter is the best pitch on the Jays, ranking at a minus-8 run value, per Baseball Savant.

Yimi García: C-

García’s had a weird season. Opposing hitters have teed off the fastball (+7 run value) and smacked him around for 10.6 H/9, yet his peripherals indicate he hasn’t been all that bad. The 1.5 HR/9 isn’t great, but the 32-year-old is striking hitters out near a career-high clip (10.9 K/9).

The 6.20 ERA merits a weak letter grade, but García is two or three scoreless outings away from getting back on track.