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Grading the position players: Blue Jays are loaded

On Tuesday, I graded the MLB pitching staffs, including separate rotation and bullpen ranks; now it's time to grade the position players. Each team has an overall grade, then separate grades for hitting and defense. Oh, and as you might notice, I put a little more weight on offense (than defense) in the overall grade.


Overall grade: A
Offense: A
Defense: A-

Offense: The Toronto Blue Jays led the majors in runs last season -- a full 127 runs more than the next-highest-scoring team -- and they'll do so again this year. Not only do they have three sluggers capable of hitting 40-plus homers in Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson, but the rest of the lineup is loaded as well. In fact, this group could be even better than last year, considering they'll now have a full year of Troy Tulowitzki, Kevin Pillar could take another step forward and lefty slugger Michael Saunders is now in the mix.

Defense: They're really strong up the middle, which matters a lot to me. Catcher Russell Martin and center fielder Pillar are Gold Glove-caliber defenders, Tulo is solid at shortstop, and Ryan Goins is the best defensive second baseman the Blue Jays have had since Roberto Alomar. They are below average at only one position on the diamond (Bautista in right field).


Overall grade: A
Offense: A-
Defense: A

Offense: The Kansas City Royals might not have the power of the Blue Jays or Tigers, but they have proved the past two years how effective they can be simply by making contact, getting on base, taking extra bases on the basepaths and forcing mistakes with their speed and athleticism. They actually have more power potential than most people think, but because of their hitting philosophy and huge home ballpark, it doesn't always show up in the box score. The offense has been good enough to reach the World Series the past two years and much has changed with it. In this case, that's a good thing.

Defense: The Royals have the best defensive team in the game, with Gold Glove-caliber defenders at as many as six different positions.


Overall grade: A-
Offense: A
Defense: B+

Offense: The Detroit Tigers still have a lot of pop, led by Miguel Cabrera, who will remind us this season that he's still the best hitter in the league. Also, I think Justin Upton could take his offense to a new level under the tutelage of Cabrera and Victor Martinez and by hitting next to those guys in the lineup. Also, Nick Castellanos is approaching his prime at age 24, so I'm expecting more from him. The only downside here is this lineup is too right-handed.

Defense: This team is way better defensively than most people realize, especially up the middle with James McCann behind the plate, the flashy Jose Iglesias at shortstop, the steady Ian Kinsler at second base and rangy Anthony Gose in center field. The grade comes down some because of the inconsistency in some of the corner spots.


Overall grade: A-
Offense: A
Defense: B