Three Things From Week Twelve

Adam Lind is back! (from daylife.com)

Call it a rebound week.

After being absolutely pummelled by the Red Sox, the Jays used an off day on Monday to clear their heads, and then got back to the task of righting the ship. And nothing helps to right the ship more than a visit from the Orioles, Toronto’s personal whipping boys.

Taking two of three from Baltimore sent the Jays off on a good note, and not even dreaded Interleague play could ruin the Jays new found momentum. Winning two of three in Cincinnati not only evens Toronto’s interleague record in 2011, but it also won me a beer, a result of a bet made with a diehard Reds fan co-worker.

Can’t wait for an ice cold pint Mr. Wordelmann!

Here are three things from week 12:

Week 12: June 13 – June 19

Record: 4 – 2

1. Hot As A Pistol

When Adam Lind went down with a back injury on May 7th he was one of the hottest players on the team. The timing couldn’t have been worse. When he finally made his return to the lineup nearly a month later, Jays fans were hoping that it wouldn’t take him long to get his hitting stroke back.

Well, it’s 15 games into his return and I don’t think anybody would have dreamed he would be as hot as he is.

Lind had a hit in five of Toronto’s six games last week, including blasting a home run on four consecutive days. Overall, his stats for the week were off the charts: .364 average, 1.416 OPS, 4 HR, 7 RBI, and a walk-off game winning HR in the 11th inning to beat Baltimore on Tuesday. He almost single-handedly won three separate games, and is giving Toronto one of baseball’s best 1-2 punches with Mr. Bautista.

This recent hot streak has put Lind on pace to virtually duplicate his breakout 2009 campaign – but in about 25 fewer games. Not bad at all for a guy who many thought was washed up.

2. Cold As Ice

As red hot as Adam Lind has been lately, one of the main reasons why Toronto hasn’t been winning as many games as you’d think recently is because of the performance of another key player – as ice cold as Lind is hot.

Rajai Davis was acquired in the offseason to be a sparkplug

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at the top of the order. He was going to get on base, run wild, and score a lot of runs. Unfortunately things haven’t gone anywhere near as well as expected. Davis’ numbers are down quite a bit from his performance last year, and down significantly from 2009. His .275 OBP is the 4th worst in the entire American League, better than only Orlando Cabrera, Alex Rios, and Chone Figgins. Since getting on base is the most important job of a leadoff hitter, it is hardly surprising that the opening day leadoff hitter has only hit at the top of the order 15 times this season.

And while he does lead the team in SB with 18, his stolen base percentage is the lowest of his career. He has been successful only 69% of the time – with 8 caught stealings to go along with 3 pickoffs. Not ideal numbers.

Though there is still time for him to turn things around, his recent play has not been encouraging. In his last 14 games, Davis has been dreadful. 4 for 45, .089 average, .109 OBP, .264 OPS, only 2 extra base hits, 0 SB to 1 CS, and a horrendous 1 BB : 14 K ratio.

This is not the player Alex Anthopoulos acquired. Here’s hoping that that version of Rajai Davis shows up before it’s too late.

3. Most Valuable Pitcher?

Coming into 2011, there was a lot of discussion surrounding Toronto’s pitching staff. The rotation was lead by staff ace Ricky Romero, young fireballers Brandon Morrow and Brett Cecil, and rookie sensation Kyle Drabek. The Jays made news by acquiring a three-headed closer in Octavio Dotel, Frank Francisco, and Jon Rauch.

So how odd does it seem that mid-way through June, an argument can be made that Toronto’s most valuable pitcher is none other than Carlos Villanueva?

Acquired in December from Milwaukee for a player to be named later, Carlos was likely the

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least celebrated move of the offseason. But he has been nothing short of outstanding all season long.

Beginning the year as the long man out

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of the ‘pen, Carlos V was spectacular – 24.1 IP, 1.48 ERA, 0.82 WHIP. Then, after injuries struck the rotation, Carlos showed his versatility by stepping seamlessly into a starters role. In six starts he has gone 3-1 with a 4.33 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, averaging just under 6 innings per start. Take away one rocky outing against the White Sox and the numbers look even better: 3.56 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

He doesn’t strike many batters out, and he isn’t overpowering, but Villanueva has been exactly what Drabek, Morrow, and Cecil have not been – dependable and consistent. And he appears to be getting better, making back-to-back quality starts last week.

In a season where so many pitchers have disappointed, Villanueva has been the most pleasant of surprises.

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