500 Level Fan Looks Back At 2013

2013

When 2013 began, the Toronto Blue Jays were on top of the baseball world. 

The 2012 season was a disaster, but they had stolen offseason headlines and were freshly installed as the Vegas odds-on-favourite to win the 2013 World Series.

Now here we are in the final few days of 2013, and things couldn’t be more dire.  2013 was a calamity of a year that saw the Jays finish in last place, their rivals win the World Series, and other teams leap ahead of them on the totem pole.  In fact, as of December 11 the Jays were ranked 21st on the Vegas odds list.  A far fall from this time last year.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom.  2013 had a lot of highlights as well.  In keeping with 500 Level Fan tradition, let’s take a look back at the year that was, month by month, showing the good and the bad.  

Happy New Year!

January

Highlight

Jan. 16: Darren Oliver decides to forego retirement and return to the Jays for one more year.  Though he regresses a bit from his 2012 campaign, he still provides the team with excellent lefty relief, finishing the year with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.

Lowlight

Jan. 16: Jinx?  MLB.com’s Mike Bauman publishes an early World Series prediction article, where he says the Toronto Blue Jays will battle the Washington Nationals for the title.  Both teams badly disappoint in 2013.

February

Highlight

Feb. 5: Casey Janssen is officially named the Blue Jays closer by manager John Gibbons.  Janssen would go 34 for 36 in save opportunities, with a 2.56 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and an 8.5 K/9 ratio, finishing the year as one of baseball’s best closers.

Lowlight

Feb. 13: Dustin McGowan is once again shutdown due to injury, this time because of a shoulder problem.  Hoping to make an impact on the Jays staff, McGowan won’t pitch until June 8th.

March

Highlight

Mar. 27: Toronto confirms that Brett Cecil will make the major league team out of spring training.  He rewards them by having the best year of his career: 5-1, 2.82 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and a 10.4 K/9 ratio, while earning a spot on the American League All-Star team.

Lowlight

Mar. 31: The Jays place Brett Lawrie on the 15-day DL to open the season.  It will mark the first of two trips to the DL for Lawrie, who has an up-and-down (mostly down) 2013.

April

Highlight

Apr. 30: Amidst all the hype, the first real highlight doesn’t come until the last day of the month.  Edwin Encarnacion hits a 2-run HR in the 7th inning helping the Jays to a 9-7 comeback win against Boston, ending a disappointing April on a positive note.

Lowlight

Apr. 15: Prized offseason acquisition Jose Reyes badly sprains his ankle while sliding into second base in Kansas City.  He won’t play again until June 26, and is less than 100% for the remainder of the season.

May

Highlight

May 26: The Jays score 4 in the bottom of the 9th to comeback from a 5-2 deficit and beat the Orioles 6-5.  The winning runs are driven in by Munenori Kawasaki, who then wins over Toronto (and the rest of baseball) with one of the greatest postgame interviews in the history of sports.  I am Japaneeeeeeese!!

Lowlight

May 2: Toronto places Josh Johnson on the DL.  Touted to be a staff ace, Johnson was sporting an ugly 6.86 ERA at the time of his injury.  Though he would return in June, he was awful and was eventually shut down in early August.

June

Highlights

Jun. 21: Kawasaki hits his first career HR, a game-tying 2-run blast in the 7th, helping the Jays to their 9th straight win.  The “Kawa-sa-ki” chants by the crowd are among the loudest heard in Toronto in years.

Jun. 23: Jays beat Baltimore 13-5 to win their 11th straight game, tying a franchise record.  The win puts the team 2 games above .500 and moves them out of last place.

Jun. 26: R.A. Dickey throws the pitching gem of the season for the Jays, a complete game, 2-hit shutout over the Rays.  He strikes out six, and needs only 93 pitches in the masterpiece.

Lowlight

Jun. 30: The Jays lose to Boston in the cruelest of fashions, by committing a walk-off error.  The loss is the 5th in 7 games for the team, virtually ruining all the momentum and goodwill built up by the 11-game win streak.

July

Highlights

Jul. 11: Steve Delabar wins the AL Final Vote, joining Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brett Cecil on the American League All-Star team.

Jul. 29: Edwin Encarnacion is named the American League player of the week after hitting .520 / .581 / .880 / 1.461, with 2 HR and 8 RBI in the seven games from July 22 – 28.

Lowlight

Jul. 4: J.P. Arencibia makes a fool of himself by calling out Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst for criticizing him on television and radio.  He comes out of it looking like a whiner who can’t handle criticism. 

Jul. 24: Colby Rasmus misplays a ball to CF in the 9th inning, allowing the tying run to score in a game against the Dodgers.  LA goes on to score 5 in the 10th to sweep to the Jays, sending them to their 7th straight loss, and dropping them to 0-6 after the All-Star break.

August

Highlight

Aug. 23: Ryan Goins makes his major league debut, and goes 2 for 4 with a double, giving the Jays a rare moment in 2013 – production from second base.

Lowlight

Aug. 24: Toronto hits rock bottom with an 8-5 loss to Houston.  The loss is the team’s 7th in a row, burying them in dead last in the AL East – 16 games under .500, 18.5 games back of first, and 11.5 games behind the 4th place Yankees.

September

Highlight

Sep. 17: R.A. Dickey, Sergio Santos, and Casey Janssen combine to throw a 5-hit shutout against the Yankees.  Though not official, the loss effectively ends the Yankees playoff hopes.

Lowlight

Sep. 29: J.P. Arencibia goes o for 2 in the season’s final game, ending the year with a .194 / .227 / .365 slash line, one of the worst offensive seasons in the history of baseball.

October

Highlight

Oct. 29: R. A. Dickey is awarded an American League Gold Glove award for defensive excellence.  He is the first Blue Jay pitcher to win the award, and is the first Toronto Blue Jay to win a Gold Glove since Vernon Wells in 2006.

Lowlight

Oct. 30: Jays fans sit and watch as hated former manager John Farrell lifts the World Series trophy as a member of the hated Boston Red Sox.   A lot of hate and anger…

November

Highlight

Nov. 20: Aaron Sanchez (4th) and Marcus Stroman (12th) are named in the list of top-20 players in the Arizona Fall League.  The rankings prove that although Alex Anthopoulos traded away many of Toronto’s top prospects during last year’s offseason, the Jays cupboards aren’t as bare as many will have you believe.

Lowlight

Nov. 12: Mark DeRosa announces his retirement.  Though he didn’t put up outstanding numbers with the Jays in 2013, DeRosa was widely credited with being a positive and calming influence on Brett Lawrie.  Time will tell if having him mentor Lawrie for one more season may have been beneficial.

December

Highlight

Dec. 9: Roy Halladay is signed to a one-day contract in order to officially retire as a Toronto Blue Jay.  With apologies to Dave Stieb, Halladay was the greatest pitcher in the history of the franchise, and is a pretty good bet to be elected to the Hall of Fame in five years.  If he makes it to Cooperstown, he will go in as a Blue Jay.

Lowlight

Dec. 12: The Toronto Blue Jays sign Tomo Ohka to a minor league contract.  A former Jay, Ohka is trying to re-invent himself as a knuckleball pitcher, and Toronto is hoping to strike gold by pairing him with R.A. Dickey.  The move may turn out to be a stroke of genius, and combined with the acquisition of Erik Kratz and Dioner Navarro, may end up being a perfect complement to the existing roster.  But in an offseason where Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ian Kinsler, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano, Ricky Nolasco, Joe Nathan, Scott Kazmir, Mark Trumbo, and Adam Eaton (among others) have changed teams, a Jays fan can’t help but feel underwhelmed.

One thought on “500 Level Fan Looks Back At 2013”

  1. Nice review of 2013, Gibbons. Impressed to see you were able to come up with so many highlights. After reading, I feel less dismayed about this year’s team.

    my only qualm is with the last point about Tomo Ohka. He is here essentially to throw minor league knucklers at A.J. Jiminez with the hopes that he’ll be a capable MLB catcher before Dickey is done. In this so-far very disappointing offseason, that’s one of the only moves to like. Aside from the re-signing of Ricardo Nanita, of course.

    Happy 2014.

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