The Jays appear to be a different club in 2017

Odds are the Toronto Blue Jays won’t win the World Series. That may sound like a bold prediction, but analytics website FiveThirtyEight projected that the Jays have only a four per cent chance of winning the World Series, tied for the sixth highest mark in the league.

Truth be told, the Edwin Encarnacion-less team isn’t the same club that has made it to the American League Championship Series for the past two seasons.

In the AL East, perennially the toughest division in baseball, FiveThirtyEight projected that reigning division winners the Boston Red Sox have a six per cent chance of winning the World Series, having lost future Hall of Fame slugger David Ortiz and having added lefty ace Chris Sale in the offseason. The Red Sox will also see a major change at third base as Pablo Sandoval will now start at the hot corner, after missing the entire 2016 season due to a shoulder injury.

The Tampa Bay Rays, who are projected with a three per cent chance at winning, will have a full season of pitcher Alex Cobb and shortstop Matt Duffy, the latter acquired last August from San Francisco in exchange for pitcher Matt Moore.

The New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles round out the division with only two per cent odds. With a shaky starting rotation and a core group of young players looking to make a name for themselves in New York, the 27-time World Champions aren’t destined to take centre stage in October.

For Baltimore, 2017 will be a year of change with new additions Seth Smith and Welington Castillo and the departures of Matt Wieters, Steve Pearce, Yovani Gallardo, and Nolan Reimold.

The Orioles, last season’s league leaders in home runs, will once again need to be dangerous at the plate to stay in contention. Their lineup still features Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo, who respectively hit 25, 29, 37, 38, and 47 homers last season.

Following along with the site’s predictions, the biggest threat to derail Toronto from making the World Series, however, may not even come from within their division.

Out in the AL West, the Houston Astros are also favoured over the Blue Jays with an eight per cent odds to win it all. The Cleveland Indians, the same club that ended Toronto’s 2016 season in the ALCS and went on to lose the Fall Classic to the Chicago Cubs, have signed Toronto’s leading slugger Encarnacion and are ranked second among all teams with an eleven per cent chance.

Even if the Jays can beat the odds and carve their way through the American League to clinch a World Series berth, the defending champion and first ranked Cubs will likely be standing in their way with their 14 per cent chance to once again lift the Commissioner’s Trophy.

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