Every Monday during the 2017 season, 500 Level Fan will take a look back at the week that was, giving readers a snapshot of all things Blue Jays, including three top stories and the Blue Jay player of the week.
This is what happened in week 2.
Week 2: April 10 – April 16
Record: 1 – 5
Season-to-date: 2 – 10
AL East: 5th, 6.5 games behind Baltimore
Wild Card: 5 games behind Minnesota/Boston
The Toronto Blue Jays are currently the worst team in baseball. It is still early. There are still 150 games to play. But nothing about this early season performance is inspiring hope for the near future. Many baseball pundits pegged the Jays as contenders this year as long as they stayed relatively healthy and the veteran hitters returned to form. So far….no dice. You want health? Well, the closer has already been on the DL. Last week, the team MVP and last year’s ERA champ were placed on the DL, before J.A. Happ – a 20-game winner in ’16 – left his start with an injury. How about those vets? Well, Russell Martin is hitting .097, Bautista has a .446 OPS with 15 strikeouts, Tulowitzki has a sub-.300 OBP, and newcomer Steve Pearce is hitting .156. With little to no depth and a tough schedule ahead, there is a very real chance that things get worse before they get better.
- Situational Blues
The Jays are struggling to score runs, and one of the biggest contributors is their continual failure to come through in certain situations. The most glaring example is with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs. In these circumstances a batter doesn’t need a HR or a double to drive the run home. In most cases, a fly ball to the outfield will suffice, and many times the opposing team is willing to concede a run on a ground ball to the middle infield. Yet the Blue Jays constantly fail to drive that runner home. In fact, they are the worst team in the American League at doing so….by far. Blue Jay batters have come to the plate 22 times with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs, and that run has scored only 8 times, for a 36.4% success rate. The AL average is 60.6%, the next worst team (Minnesota) is scoring that runner 42.9% of the time, and the Yankees are getting that runner home 91.7% of the time. Toronto’s main problem? They have struck out in 31.8% of their plate appearances compared to an AL average of 20%, led by Bautista’s 3 K’s in 5 chances. Are Blue Jay hitters trying to do too much, maybe swinging for the fences when a lazy fly would do? Sure seems like it….
- Silver Lining
It’s hard to find a silver lining in a 2-10 start with some of the top players on the roster on the DL, but here’s something the Jays and the fan base can look at for encouragement. This has been a bad start, but the magnitude is likely exaggerated because it’s early in the schedule. If this stretch happened later in the season the impact would be muted. Last year, for instance, the Jays went 3-9 with a -32 run differential in September, and while it still caused concern, the fact that they were already 19 games over .500 softened the blow. No team is immune from these stretches. Even the mighty Cubs went 1-9 with a -32 differential last year between June 30 and July 9 and they overcame that and won the World Series. One look at the standings can also assure Jays fans that they’re not alone. Preseason favourites Cleveland, Seattle, Texas, St. Louis, and San Francisco are all under .500 and in last place or second last place in their divisions. While things don’t look good, it’s certainly not over yet.
Player of the Week
Marco Estrada, P
Nice rebound for Estrada after a rough first week: 1 start, 7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8 K
Down on the Farm
A look at how the minor league affiliates are doing
AAA – Buffalo: 7 – 3, 1st place
AA – New Hampshire: 5 – 4, T-2nd place, 1 GB
A+ – Dunedin: First Half: 6 – 5, T-3rd place, 2 GB
A – Lansing: First Half: 6 -40, T-2nd place, 1 GB
A (Short Season) – Vancouver: season not started
The Look Ahead
It doesn’t get any easier
April 18 – 20 vs. Boston
April 21 – 24 at LA Angels