Canada’s COVID restrictions have given the Blue Jays an edge that no other team in baseball can match.
The Toronto Blue Jays have only had a handful of true home games, complete with a full-capacity crowd, since the COVID-19 pandemic began. But unless policies change, Rogers Centre is going to give the Jays the biggest home-field advantage in baseball this season.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers have had the league’s highest average attendance in every season since 2012 and the St. Louis Cardinals claim to have baseball’s most loyal and passionate fan base, they still won’t have what the Blue Jays will have this season.
Let’s not dance around the topic:.
Due to strict COVID guidelines in Canada, unvaccinated players will not be allowed in the country to play games against the Blue Jays. That includes nine games against the Yankees, who still have at least a few unvaccinated players, and you don’t have to go far to figure out which stars that might include.
Major League Baseball said last season that 85% of its players and team personnel were vaccinated, but we’ll soon see which players did or did not get the jab when teams have to venture north of the border. The Jays have April home series against the Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros. Toronto will host Boston for 10 games this season, just shy of 1/8 of the Red Sox’ road schedule. Competing without key players in Toronto for that many games will put Boston, New York, or any other American League East rival at a significant competitive disadvantage.
Which could — and probably will be — a significant competitive advantage for the Toronto Blue Jays.
There have been exceptions like Washington Wizards star guard Bradley Beal and Red Sox star shortstop Xander Boegarts, but for the most part it seems like if you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, then being convinced to get the jab is extremely unlikely.
The stats will tell you that Toronto technically only won three more games at home in 2021 than it did on the road. But that doesn’t take into account that before July 30, Jays “home” games were played at their Spring Training facility in Dunedin, Florida and at their Triple-A stadium in Buffalo. The fact that the team won 47 “home” games, 44 road games, and nearly made the playoffs is honestly remarkable.
While the Dodgers won a ridiculous 58 of 81 home games last season, they actually got to play all their actual home games at Chavez Ravine. And based from a purely differential standpoint, both the New York Mets and Miami Marlins won 17 more home games than road games last season, though those clubs went a combined 55-107 away from Citi Field and LoanDepot Park in 2021.
Toronto’s on-field product will also be even better in 2022. With All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman acquired this week from an Oakland A’s team that would benefit from my idea of an MLB salary floor, high-level starting pitchers Kevin Gausman and Yusei Kikuchi signed to long-term contracts, ace Jose Berrios signed to a seven-year extension, and the continued growth and development of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, the Blue Jays are going to be a force this season. It’s why Toronto is +1100 to win the World Series right now at FanDuel, tied for Houston and the Chicago White Sox for the second-best odds.
Combine that growing juggernaut of a roster with opposing teams being unable to send their unvaccinated players to Toronto, and Rogers Centre gives the Blue Jays baseball’s biggest home field advantage. If they weren’t already, this makes Toronto the clear favorite in the AL East.