If I had to describe the 2012 Blue Jays season in one phrase, that would be it. They have never been more than five games over .500, and have never been more than one game under. In April, the pitching carried the hitting. In June, the hitting carried the pitching. When some players catch fire (Bautista, Rasmus, Lawrie), other players bottom out (Romero, Cordero, Lind). It just seems like this year has been a never ending cycle of mediocrity – the hot streaks haven’t been enough to get me too excited, and at the same time the cold streaks haven’t been bad enough to make me lose all hope.
Last week was more of the same. A great start to the week in Boston quickly vanished into a horrendous three game losing streak, only to improve with two huge wins over the Angels. Of course, the good times had to end with a thud, after CoCo threw Sunday’s game away.
At the end of the week, the Jays were pretty much right back in the same spot they were at the beginning – the very definition of treading water.
Here are three things from week 13:
Week 13: June 25 – July 1
Record: 3 – 4
1. Player of the Month
Despite all the Blue Jays’ struggles last month, it’s good to know that at least one man was still dominating. Jose Bautista was named the American League Player of the Month for June, marking the fifth time he’s won the award.
And what a month it was for Jose. He entered June in the midst of a two month struggle. His average was an unsightly .224, his OPS was down at .773, and he had only 12 HR to his name. Then, suddenly, everything changed. Check out the stats for the Home Run King in June:
27 games, .271 AVG, .408 OBP, .750 SLG, 1.158 OPS, 14 HR, 30 RBI, 24 R
The 14 HR are a Blue Jays franchise record for the month. His season OPS is now a much more Jose-like .900, and he is climbing the leaderboards in all offensive categories, including one that he very familar with – home runs.
On top of the player of the month award, Jose was also honoured with his second consecutive starting nod for the American League All-Star team. What a great month for Toronto’s MVP.
2. All-Star Snub
While Bautista will be heading to Kansas City next week to participate in the HR Derby and the All-Star game, he will not be joined any of his Blue Jay teammates. That’s right – despite the breakout season by Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays 1B will be watching the game at home instead of ripping home runs.
Edwin was obviously the victim of the “every team needs to have a player in the game rule”, as he has put up better numbers than many of the players chosen ahead of him. And that is OK – that rule has been in place for a while, and will continue to be. What is the most troublesome is this: EE was somehow left off the ballot for the final All-Star, as all five players up for fan voting are pitchers.
The All-Star game has turned into a joke these days (see: a retired manager trying to win home field advantage for the World Series), but it is still an honour to be chosen. And there’s no doubt that Edwin deserves to be there. He is ranked 5th in the AL in home runs, 6th in RBI, 6th in OPS, and 5th in slugging. Against all odds he has even played solid defense after taking over for Adam Lind at 1B.
If anything, maybe he’ll gain extra motivation from the snub, and continue to tear apart AL pitching in the second half. After all, that would be the best revenge.
3. Big Week for Former Jays
These posts are normally reserved for Blue Jays, but I had to go off the board a bit this week to recognize two former Jays for accomplishments on and off the field last week.
First, a shout out to former 2B Aaron Hill, who is having a fantastic season for the Diamondbacks. Last Friday Hill hit for the cycle, a feat that absolutely blew me away. Why? Because it was the second time he hit for the cycle….in TEN DAYS!!!! The Toronto Blue Jays as a franchise have only hit for the cycle twice in 35 YEARS! Hill did it on June 18th vs. Seattle, then again Friday against the Brewers.
Second, the greatest player to ever play for the Blue Jays, and perhaps the greatest player to ever play baseball for any team in any country in any era, celebrated a monumental milestone. Tony Fernandez turned 50 years old on Saturday. The former shortstop retired in 2001 and is a member of the Blue Jays Level of Excellence. Unfortunately, he is currently employed by the Texas Rangers as a special assistant to GM Jon Daniels, something that I hope Alex Anthopoulos rectifies in the coming years. The Jays need Tony – that is fact.
But until that glorious day when he returns, 500 Level Fan wishes him a happy 50th from afar.