The Jays wrapped up a 10-game post All-Star break homestand last week. While the last series went well, the homestand as a whole did not, with the team dropping 7 of 10.
With less than 60 games left on the schedule, the end of this long and terrible season is fast approaching. Other than the trade deadline (which hits Wednesday afternoon), there really isn’t a whole lot left to get excited about, unless you are a “silver linings” kind of person (Rajai’s steals! Colby’s improvement! Todd Redmond!!)
With that said, the Jays could have easily folded up shop and quit long ago. The fact that they at least showed some interest in beating Houston shows that most of the players are still checked in.
Here are three things from week 17:
Week 17: July 22- July 28
Record: 3 – 4
1. Edwin The Best
In each of the past two or three seasons, there was no doubt that Toronto was Jose Bautista’s team. He led the Jays in virtually every offensive category and was one of the most feared hitters in the league. While he has still been a hitting beast, I think we can safely say that he has been surpassed this year by Edwin Encarnacion.
EE has been incredible all season. He leads the team in HR (28), RBI (82), OPS (.920), OPS+ (147), Hits (107), and OBP (.367), and is tied for second in WAR (3.0). But as good as those numbers sound, he has been even better recently. Last week he went 13 for 25, good for a .520 average, and 1.461 OPS, with 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 3 doubles. In July he is hitting .314 with a 1.065 OPS, 5 HR, and 16 RBI. On Sunday he was shown the ultimate respect by the Astros, as Houston pitchers intentionally walked him not once, but twice.
Encarnacion is producing one of the greatest offensive seasons in Blue Jays history, and it’s a shame that it’s being wasted. Still, I’d pencil him in as a lock for a top-10 MVP finish in the AL.
2. Rajai Davis Is Fast
It was quite the game for Rajai yesterday, as he tied a club record with four stolen bases. The steals bring his 2013 total to 31, good for second in the American League behind Jacoby Ellsbury (38). The remarkable thing about that, however, is that Davis has a full 225 fewer at bats than Ellsbury!
Projections are always dangerous and can’t really be relied upon for anything, but still – give Davis the same amount of at bats and he would be projected to have 68 stolen bases. The Blue Jays franchise record for steals in a season is 60, set by Dave Collins in 1984. That should help give some context to how great Davis has been on the basepaths this season.
All of which leads to this: Rajai Davis is an excellent base runner, a guy who can come off the bench and threaten to score on any hit. Any contending team would love to have a weapon like that on the bench heading into the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rajai was no longer a Blue Jay by Wednesday.
3. Rock Bottom? Almost….But Not Quite
It was written all over the place that the Toronto Blue Jays hit rock bottom on Wednesday night. After being swept by the Rays coming out of the break, in three winnable games, they welcomed the Dodgers to town and promptly lost three more games in brutal fashion.
On Monday night they were absolutely crushed, humiliated at home 14-5. On Tuesday, they blew a 5-run lead in the 7th to fall 10-9. Then came Wednesday, and a brand new, comical way to drop a game. Up by one in the 9th, LA had a runner on first with two outs, when Colby Rasmus badly misplayed a single, letting the ball bounce over his head. The tying run scored, and the Dodgers erupted for five in the 10th to finish the sweep.
So that was rock bottom – except it wasn’t. You see, it was possible to sink lower. If Toronto would have lost a series to the Astros at home, that would have been rock bottom. There would have been nothing lower than that, but the players pulled up their socks and won 3 of 4 to give the fans a little bit to cheer about. (Note – most players pulled up their socks. I’m looking at you Josh Johnson). And it couldn’t have come at a better time: with the team set to head out on a 10-game west coast road trip (Toronto never does well on west coast road trips), it could be a while until fans are cheering again.