The calendar has turned to August. The Jays are scheduled to play game number 110 tonight.
What does all this mean?
Well, it means that the baseball season is getting closer to the end, closer to the stretch run and the pennant races. It means that the dog days of summer are slowly coming to a close.
With over 2/3 of the season done, the law of averages was supposed to have kicked in. By now the hot starters should have come back to earth, and the slow starters should have come back to their career norms.
Here are 10 things that I never thought I’d see at this stage of the season:
1. The Arizona Diamondbacks are 61-49 and tied for first in the NL West. For a team that lost 97 games and finished dead last in 2010, are lead by a rookie manager in his first full season, and didn’t make any significant offseason pickups, that is shocking.
2. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians are still hanging around. Though both have started to slip up recently, these perennial losers both still sit within 6 games of first place in their divisions. A good finish by the Pirates and they may finally finish over .500 for the first time since 1992.
3. Adam Dunn is still this bad. I picked him to win the AL MVP, but Dunn is hitting .165 with a .597 OPS, only 10 HR and an unreal 138 strikeouts.
4. Lance Berkman is still this good. He looked like he was finished after last season, when he limped home after a disappointing playoff run with the Yankees. But in 2011 he is rejuvenated. He has kept up his great start and leads the NL with 28 HR.
5. The Houston Astros still attract actual, live human beings to their home games. Despite their terrible record (36 – 74), despite the fact that they are in last place, and despite the fact that they have nobody left of name recognition after dealing Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, the Astros actually rank 11th out of 16 NL teams in attendance. In fact, over 22,000 fans came out to the game last night. Crazy!
6. Jose Molina is still hitting over. 300. Yes you can scream small sample size, but still – the Jays catcher has 116 AB, and has an OPS of .803. This is a guy who’s best average coming into this season was .261, so this performance is surprising to say the least.
7. Jo-Jo Reyes lasted 20 starts. He is gone now, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say I thought he would have been gone a long, long time ago. Only Ricky Romero has made more starts for Toronto this year, and with the way Reyes performed, it makes you wonder how he made anywhere near that many starts.
8. Kyle Drabek is in Triple-A. I thought he would have a breakout season, cut down on the walks, pile up the strikeouts and stake a permanent claim to the #3 spot in the rotation. I was way, way wrong.
9. According to the Baseball Reference WAR stat, Yunel Escobar has been the second best Blue Jay hitter this season – by a mile. You’d think that Adam Lind should comfortably be in that slot, but it’s Yunel with a 4.0 WAR to Lind’s 1.6. I thought Yunel was going to be good, but a .305 AVG, .831 OPS, 10 HR kind of good?
10. Aaron Hill is as valuable to this team as Mike McCoy. That’s right. Both have a WAR of 0.2, but McCoy has earned a 0.2 WAR in only 90 plate appearances compared to Hill’s 373. By August I was sure we’d see Hill’s average back to the .255 range and the power return with a HR total in the teens. Not. Even. Close.