Aaron Judge Vladimir Guerrero Jr
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays have a burgeoning rivalry.

Cue the music!

The New York Yankees have a target on their backs, one so big that the Toronto Blue Jays have taken notice.

Yes, folks. It’s that time again. Just a small handful of years after Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion slugged the Blue Jays to some playoff berths, the time has come again. No more Canadian hibernation during a long, cold, rebuilding winter.

The Wall has come down and an army of White Walkers led by Night King Charlie Montoyo is marching with one goal: first place in the AL East and then a World Series.


The Toronto Blue Jays have come to a simple conclusion. Outslug the competition all the way to a division crown. The New York Yankees, meanwhile, seem to have approached 2022 a different way, one more tactical than simply stacking the lineup.

Let’s take a look at the Blue Jays and Yankees, break them down by each position and pitching staff, and determine just who has the edge in the 2022 season.

 

Catcher

The Yankees hit the reset button on backstop when they traded Gary Sanchez to the Minnesota Twins. That means Kyle Higashioka is the new starter, and Rob Brantly will handle backup duties until Ben Rortvedt’s oblique is healed. Toronto isn’t seriously better with a tandem of Alejandro Kirk and Reese McGuire/Danny Jansen, even though Higashioka has the superior glove.

Advantage: Tie

 

First base

Anthony Rizzo grew up a New York Yankees fan, is a great teammate, and his lefty bat makes him a valuable part of the lineup. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led the majors with 48 home runs in 2021 and finished second in MVP voting. Even with the multitalented DJ LeMahieu in the picture, the Canadians have it.

Advantage: Toronto Blue Jays

 

Second base

This is where things get a bit interesting. LeMahieu is a Gold Glove second baseman, but the Yankees also have Gleyber Torres. Yet, if you’ve seen the last couple of spring training lineups posted, Torres has been subbed in at the last minute. This reeks of trade rumors, but either man is better than the streaky and fragile Cavan Biggio.

Advantage: New York Yankees

 

Shortstop

The Yankees have a new face in Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who won a Gold Glove at third base in 2020 and posted a +10 DRS at short last year. Bo Bichette isn’t as good a fielder, but set career highs in home runs, runs scored, and steals last season. Enough questions remain about Kiner-Falefa’s bat that once again, the Canadians take this round.

Advantage: Toronto Blue Jays

 

Third base

Two new faces greet us here: former Blue Jay and MVP Josh Donaldson for the Yankees and the elite-fielding Matt Chapman for Toronto. Donaldson is 36 and has never been much of a fielder, but can still keep up at the plate. Matt Chapman is just an infield version of Joey Gallo, with his glove’s tradeoff being batting around .200 with 30ish homers and tons of RBI.

With two completely opposite approaches between the two, we’ll call this a push even with DJ LeMahieu getting reps at the hot corner.

Advantage: Tie

 

Left field

Joey Gallo is the living embodiment of three true outcomes, whose long home runs are complemented by his being a Gold Glove outfielder. Lourdes Gurriel is a reliable .282 career hitter, who held his own in left field last season. Instead of back-to-back ties, we’re going to go by last year’s WAR. Gallo’s 3.5 easily outclasses Gurriel’s 1.5.

Advantage: New York Yankees

 

Center field

Aaron Hicks is a switch-hitting love letter to analytics…when healthy. George Springer is also oft-injured and played just 78 games his first season in Toronto. However, Springer is an elite talent independent of Hicks and still mashed 22 home runs en route to a 2.4 WAR in 2021.

Advantage: Toronto Blue Jays

 

Right field

Randal Grichuk is Randal Grichuk. Aaron Judge is Aaron Judge. Let’s make like Luke and Obi-Wan, go about our business, and move along.

Advantage: New York Yankees

 

Designated hitter

Teoscar Hernandez can certainly mash the ball and has hit all but four of his 108 career home runs in a Blue Jays uniform. But even with all of Giancarlo Stanton’s injury issues, the former MVP is still Godzilla to Hernandez’s Mothra.

Advantage: New York Yankees

 

Starting pitching

Anchored by Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ rotation ranked sixth in baseball last year and is further boosted by Luis Severino’s long-awaited return. New York has also engaged the Oakland A’s about Sean Manaea. The Blue Jays ranked tenth, but Toronto added some significant arms this winter, namely Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi. The Blue Jays also have Jose Berrios and Hyun-Jin Ryu to go with youngster Alek Manoah.

But let’s dig deeper. Gausman has seen most of his career success in the National League and is now back in the hard-hitting AL East. Neither he nor the rest of the staff have particularly great numbers versus the New York Yankees. Toronto really won the season series last year not only on their own lineup, but on the back of New York’s continually failing to get going.

Advantage: New York Yankees

 

Bullpen

On numbers alone, the Yankees ranked fourth with a 3.56 bullpen ERA and the Blue Jays ranked 16th with a 4.08 mark. Yet, because of Aroldis Chapman’s cold streak and Zack Britton’s injury woes, that number is something of an illusion. Britton will miss most if not all of the 2022 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Chapman is now 34 and learning how to rely less on velocity.

Nobody builds bullpens from scratch better than the Yankees, but there’s no doubt the bridge to Chapman is rickety this year. Toronto’s relievers aren’t household names, but they’re still effective. Not to mention, the Yankee bullpen was severely overtaxed at points last year. This time, we gamble on the Blue Jays.

Advantage: Toronto Blue Jays

 

WHO’S GOT THE EDGE?

If we look at the numbers, the New York Yankees win this on tally 5-4-2. On paper, once we do deep dives on the appropriate numbers, they’re probably the better team.

But the Yankees always deal with a few injury scares, and the Blue Jays have been a thorn in their side for a few years now. They’ve played .500 ball against New York in the last three years despite finishing lower in the standings. The individual teams’ finishes aside, Toronto’s consistency has outpaced New York’s by a long shot.

2022 Season Advantage: Toronto Blue Jays

Josh Benjamin is a Bronx native who lives and breathes the New York Yankees despite being born into a family full of Mets fans. He is the MLB Editor at RealSport and considers himself a student of the game. When not writing, he can be found either at Yankee Stadium or deep in discussion with his fellow sports nuts.