There's been a renaissance in Toronto during the summer months. Forget SARS, the bird flu or the H1N1 virus - Hogtown was once again afflicted with Blue Jays fever. Playoff outsiders since 1993, apathy had long-since overtaken the Blue Jays faithful, once a group so fervent they could rival the passion of Toronto Maple Leafs nation. In 2015, as the Jays slugged their way to their first AL East Division title since that magical 1993 campaign that culiminated with Joe Carter's World Series-winning walkoff homer, the Jays once again took over the town and the momentum continued to build through back-to-back ALCS appearances in 2015 and 2016.
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It was the long ball that brought the Toronto Blue Jays back to contender starts in the American League. The Blue Jays hit a Major League Baseball-leading 232 home runs in 2015 and were fourth in that department in 2016, led by the likes of sluggers Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson.
Toronto Blue Jays Regular Season Schedule
You'll find the Toronto Blue Jays regular season schedule here and even though it is a 162-game campaign, there is no such thing as an easy game or a throwaway game, especially in the rugged American League East Division.
Toronto Blue Jays Regular Season Standings
The Toronto Blue Jays regular season standings in the American League East finally told a happy story in 2015 and again in 2016, after years and years of futility chasing the big money powerhouses that are the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
The Blue Jays, with a loaded batting order and an underrated pitching staff that posted an AL-leading ERA of 3.78 in 2016, are right there with the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in the battle for AL East supremacy.
The Yankees are in rebuild mode and the Tampa Bay Rays feature question marks in their lineup, so while it's true that the Blue Jays also have issues to resolve, theirs may not prove as challenging as some of the other teams in their division and that could result in a repeat performance atop the heap for Toronto.
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As much as they can bash the ball, the Achilles heel for the Blue Jays isn't the pitcher's mound as many seem to feel it is. The loss of David Price left a gaping hole in their starting rotation but J.A. Happ came out of nowhere to be a 20-game winner in 2016.
Toronto's depth in its starting rotation is respectable and the Blue Jays made moves in the winter that should solidify their bullpen.
American League MVP Josh Donaldson clubbed 41 home runs in the 2015 season, and followed up with 37 more in 2016. Jose Bautista, Russell Martin, and Troy Tulowitzki also reached double digits in dingers.
It wasn't just the long ball where the Blue Jays were among baseball's offensive leaders in 2016. Toronto's high-octane attack also ranked among the top 10 the majors in runs, batting average, on-base percentage and OPS.
If there was one piece of advice that baseball bettors should follow when wagering on the Toronto Blue Jays, it's always bet the over. There's no doubt that with their potent batting order, the Blue Jays will score runs. But with the improvement the Blue Jays' pitching, they don't always need to outscore a team to win.
The Blue Jays enter the 2016 season a more well-rounded team and that could be the ticket to finally get them back to the World Series.
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The Toronto Blue Jays are one of two teams in Major League Baseball history to play in multiple World Series and never lose. The Jays are 2-0, with victories over the Atlanta Braves (1992) and Philadelphia Phillies (1993). The Florida Marlins, now the Miami Marlins, are also 2-0.
The Blue Jays are also one of only two Major League teams to win the World Series with a walkoff home run, Joe Carter's ninth-inning blast off Phillies closer Mitch Williams in Game 6 of the 1993 Fall Classic. It came 33 years after Bill Mazeroski's ninth-inning home run gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a Game 7 win over the New York Yankees.