*originally written April 12th
Who would have thought it was possible? After one week the Toronto Blue Jays are 5 – 1 and sitting in first place in both the American League East, and the entire MLB. For a team that was picked by virtually all baseball experts to finish dead last, Toronto couldn’t have asked for a better start. After a tough loss on opening day, the Jays have rebounded for five straight wins heading into the home opener tonight.
As good as it’s been, it’s important not to get too caught up in the start. Less than 4% of the season has been played, and not even the most optimistic Jays fan believes Toronto can sustain this pace. The Jays are still picked by most, if not all, observers to finish in the basement come October. But the great start has allowed the fans to focus on the good things about this team, and has even started building some excitement in the city.
Here are my three biggest positives from opening week:
1. Style of Wins
When Jason Frasor blew the save on opening day you could hear Jays fans everywhere yelling “here we go again.” Toronto was notorious for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory last season, and very rarely won games they should have lost. But so far that has not been the case in 2010. Of Toronto’s five wins, it can be argued that they had no business winning three of them. Twice they entered the ninth inning trailing and rallied to win (3-1 over the Rangers, 7-6 over Baltimore). Yesterday the Jays showed virtually no signs of life for seven innings before taking advantage of an Orioles error with some timely hitting to win again. A few more games like this and the Jays will earn a reputation as a difficult team to play against – a huge compliment for such a young team.
The starting rotation was the biggest question mark heading into the season, but through one turn it has been outstanding. Toronto’s starting five has a combined ERA of 3.00 through six games, with the starters lasting an average of 6.5 innings per start. The bullpen has only allowed three earned runs thus far, two of them charged to Frasor on opening day. web archive . Casey Janssen is an incredible 3-0 through six games. server address Of course this pace will not last, but for a young rotation it was essential that they get off to a good start to build confidence. Mission accomplished.
3. Alex Gonzalez
Adam Lind has picked up where he left off last season and Vernon Wells is performing like the Vernon of old. But nothing has been more surprising and impressive than the start of Alex Gonzalez. A weak hitter throughout his career, the shortstop was signed to provide airtight defense, keeping the pitchers ERA down, and confidence up. Shockingly, it’s been the opposite. He has already committed two errors, but Gonzalez is tied for the Major League lead with four home runs, and is hitting .346 with a .923 slugging percentage. To think he will hit over 50 bombs this year is ludicrous. But I jotted him down for 2-3 home runs in my season predictions, so he has already exceeded my offensive expectations.
(On a side note, Johnny Mac is hitting .429. Look out Ted Williams!)