Blue Jays' big splash set stage for wild ride in '15

Toronto ends playoff drought, enlivens fan base after Deadline deals

Blue Jays' big splash set stage for wild ride in '15

TORONTO -- The disappointment from losing to the Royals in the American League Championship Series has started to subside, and now the Blue Jays can reflect on everything that went right in 2015.

The goal from the players, the front office and the fan base was to win the World Series, and while that didn't happen, the season still has to be considered an overwhelming success.

Blue Jays look to prove 2015 was no fluke

Toronto ended its 22-year postseason drought, the club sold out almost every game during the second half of the season and ratings on television reached historic highs. For the first time, a new generation of Blue Jays fans got to experience meaningful baseball.

Here's a look at what went right and the things that went wrong during the year when interest in baseball exploded in Toronto and across Canada:

Record: 93-69, first place in the AL East

Defining moment: The week of the non-waiver Trade Deadline completely changed the fortunes of the 2015 Blue Jays. Toronto was 50-51 on July 28, but a series of major deals transformed the roster and turned it into a World Series contender.

The first big move came when GM Alex Anthopoulos pulled off a blockbuster trade with Colorado for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. A few days later, Toronto acquired David Price, and the icing on the cake happened on July 31, with the additions of Ben Revere and Mark Lowe. It was not only the most successful Trade Deadline in franchise history, but also one of the most memorable the league has ever seen.

Statcast: Tulo clears the bases

What went right: Toronto knew all along that its offense was going to be a strength, and it turned out to be the best in baseball. The Blue Jays led the Majors with 891 runs, 232 home runs and a .797 OPS. Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion led the way, but they were far from being the only contributors.

Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak combined to form a solid platoon at first base. Kevin Pillar exceeded all expectations with the bat and Ryan Goins admirably filled in when Tulowitzki and second baseman Devon Travis went down with injuries.

All of the Deadline deals Anthopoulos made ended up working out. Price was the missing piece the rotation needed, Lowe helped solidify the bullpen and Revere solved the defensive issues in left while also providing a solid leadoff replacement for Jose Reyes. Even though Tulowitzki missed several weeks with a fractured left collarbone, he solved the fielding issues at shortstop and gave the club another dangerous bat.

Beware of Bautista's power

What went wrong: When Michael Saunders went down with an injury in Spring Training, defense in left field became a major concern for the first half, but that issue was solved by Revere. The bullpen and starting rotation struggled during the first couple of months, but the Deadline additions solved those issues as well.

Despite the success, there were a few disappointments. Drew Hutchison struggled all year and eventually lost his rotation spot in September. He began the season as the Opening Day starter, but his 9.83 ERA on the road compared to a 2.91 ERA at home proved to be his downfall.

Then there was the postseason that didn't quite live up to the lofty expectations. Toronto's victory over the Rangers in the AL Division Series will go down as the city's best sporting moment since Joe Carter's walkoff homer in the 1993 World Series, but there was a hope for more. The Blue Jays' lineup struggled at times and a 4-for-41 with runners in scoring position during their four ALCS losses was the main reason why their season ended.

Gibbons on losing ALCS

Biggest surprise: Toronto began the season with what appeared to be a black hole at first base. There was no clear starter, but over time, a solid platoon of Colabello and Smoak emerged. The pair combined to hit 33 home runs with 113 RBIs at a combined salary of approximately $1.5 million. Their contributions throughout the year made a dominant offense even better.

Statcast shows Colabello's homer

Hitter of the Year: In any other season, there would have been four or five candidates for this award, but 2015 was the year of Donaldson. He's a leading candidate for the AL MVP Award after finishing the season with a .297 average, 41 homers, 123 RBIs and a .939 OPS in 158 games. Questions have persisted about what Oakland general manager Billy Beane was thinking when he agreed to trade Donaldson for Brett Lawrie, Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman and Franklin Barreto.

Video: TEX@TOR Gm2: Donaldson crushes homer 418 feet

Pitcher of the Year: In the words of John Gibbons, Marco Estrada "saved" the Blue Jays season. He didn't even begin the year with a starting job, but he joined the rotation in early May and never looked back. His numbers were nothing short of stunning -- a 13-8 record, 3.13 ERA and 1.044 WHIP. Estrada's contributions throughout the season gave him a slight edge here over Cy Young candidate Price, who went 9-1 for Toronto and became an integral part of its run in the second half of the season.

Estrada delivers gem in Game 5

Rookie of the Year: Roberto Osuna had never pitched above Class A prior to this year, but his lack of experience didn't prove to be an issue. He took over the closer's role in May and thrived in almost every high-leverage situation. Osuna's success also allowed Brett Cecil to settle into a setup role, where he thrived with one of his best seasons yet.

Gibbons on Osuna's rookie season

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.