h2h Corner ~ Team Profile: Toronto Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have scored more runs than the Rays (and every other American League team not nicknamed the Bronx Bombers). The Blue Jays have the most extra base hits – 35 more than the Red Sox, who have the second most. The Blue Jays have 16 more HRs than the second place team (also the Red Sox). The Blue Jays have the most RBIs. While the average (fourth to last) and OBP (third to last) aren’t good, they have been four category dominators.

So, where did they come from and where are they going?

John Buck – Catcher – Buck has been a waiver wire godsend to those in deep or two-catcher leagues. Once a big time prospect who was the jewel of the Carlos Beltran trade in 2004, he never lived up to this hype in Kansas City (but, in all fairness, who does?). Since coming over to Toronto , Buck has surprised everyone by batting .268 – until this season, he was a career .235 hitter in the majors. He does have double digit power (his 162-game average is 20 HRs), so he could definitely approach 15 HRs. However, his pace will likely slow. He has hit 37 fly balls, eight of which have gone over the fence. For his career, 13% of his fly balls have been uncatchable. In addition you should expect his batting average to drop to the .240-.250 range (his 2010 BAbip is about .030 points higher than his career norm).

Lyle Overbay –First Baseman – Unlike Buck, Overbay is having a horrible season by his standards. Is this a veteran, in his 10th season at age 33, slowing down or something else? I think it is a little of both. His power numbers are in line with what he did last year and over the balance of his career, as he is on pace for 16 HRs. He is actually on pace for more runs (88) than at any other point in his career and on pace for similar RBI numbers as his previous two seasons. Yet, he has posted an average and OBP about .070 below his career norms. I actually think Overbay is a bit of a buy-low at the moment. As I’ve noted, he should hit his career counting numbers and I think his average and OBP will rise. For the season he has a .258 BAbip, for his career, he has a .319 BAbip.

Aaron Hill – Second Baseman – If I told you the Blue Jays would be this offensive juggernaut before the season, you would have been buying Aaron Hill in bunches. Well, he hasn’t been all that helpful. I don’t think anyone came into 2010 expecting a repeat of 2009’s power numbers, but maybe a nice blend of 2007 and 2009 (a bit closer to 2007 even). Well even this pessimism wasn’t enough, as Hill has been borderline worthless. A lot has been made of his hamstring issue, which may have blue kryptonite zapped his power, but that shouldn’t have as drastic an impact on his average as well. Hill might have a DL stint in his future, but at some point he’ll return to being the .280 hitting second baseman who can pop 15-20 HRs. He makes a decent buy low at the moment if owners are willing to give up on him. Realistically, last year was one crazy anomaly.

Alex Gonzalez – Shortstop – Speaking of one year power outliers, hello Alex Gonzalez’s 2010 pace of about 30 HRs. While he did hit 23, 18 and 16 HRs in previous seasons, that happened in 2004, 2003 and 2007, respectively. So what do you do with Alex Gonzalez? Obviously he has little-to-no trade value as no one believes, so if you are an owner, just ride the hot streak. What will his numbers end up looking like? I’m guessing: 80-90 runs, 20 HRs, 70 RBIs and a .265 AVG. That’s pretty good isn’t it? He isn’t all smoke.

Edwin Encarnacion – Third Baseman – Encarnacion, because of injury, hasn’t logged as much fun as his teammates. However, since coming back from the DL, he has gotten in on the party: he has raised his average from .219 to .264, hit six HRs and posted 11 RBIs in seven games. What’s more, his BAbip on the season (.179) and over the last 14 days (.071) has been criminally bad, so he hasn’t been lucky. The power will come in spurts and he, likely, isn’t anything more than a .260 hitter. But, if he can stay healthy, I’d rather have him than Jose Bautista.

Jose Bautista – Third Baseman/Outfielder – In 2006, Bautista hit 16 HRs in 117 games, which lead people to see a 20-HR campaign in his future. Up until last year, all of those people would have thought they were wrong. Bautista, starting everyday for the first time ever, has taken advantage and is on pace to score and knock in near 100 runs. He’ll never help your average (and isn’t currently), but if the Jays keep hitting he can swing and miss his way to 80 runs/RBIs. He has a 162-game average of 19 HRs, which he should probably eclipse this year. He is another Jay that has played his best baseball of the year already, but you can’t trade him for anything. So you might as well ride the hot.

Fred Lewis – Outfield – So far, I’d rather have Fred Lewis than Player To Be Named and Cash (which is all the Jays gave the Giants for Lewis). Lewis is evoking memories of 2008, the season during which he played the most games, scored the most runs, hit the most HRs, and stole the most bases. In fact, 2010 is looking very similar to 2008, as Lewis is on pace for about 70 runs, nine HRs, 45 RBIs and 10 SBs. Lewis can definitely keep his average around .280 (he has for 1,076 ABs), but hopefully he can bring his OBP up to his career norm of .350. That will really help with his SB numbers. Some might think there is one red flag with Lewis: he is hitting .369 on balls in play. However, for his career, he owns a .360 BAbip. So, if Lewis starts talking some walks, he might actually gain value over the balance of the season.

Vernon Wells – Outfield – Wells completes the surging Blue Jays outfield triumvirate. For the first time during the duration of his massive contract, he is making himself look like he was sort of worth it. He is hitting for a good average and on pace to score 90 runs, hit 30 HRs, and knock in 100. He has been a godsend in OBP leagues as he has posted a .359 OBP compared to .311 last year and .330 for his career. A lot of this, as you know, is a product of a scotching hot start (eight HRs in April). Since the calendar flipped to May, Wells has seen his average dip from .337 to .301, his OBP go from .396 to .359 and has only hit three HRs. He has been a bit unlucky this month. Over the last seven days he has hit .200 on balls in play, over 14 days just .242 and over 28 days .286. He has a career .290 BAbip. Basically, while he won’t be as good as he was in April, he won’t be as bad as he has been over the last two weeks. He’ll hit 10 HRs over the rest of the year and still post impressive runs/RBIs batting in a pretty good line-up.

Adam Lind – Designated hitter – Like Wells, Lind got off to a scotching hot start (he hit .286 in April). Also like Wells, Lind has had a miserable May: .186 AVG. Over the last 28 days, Lind’s BAbip is .208. For the season it is .276, for his career it is .310. Like another teammate, Aaron Hill, we should not have expected Lind to post similar power numbers as he did in 2009. However, I think we can expect him to hit between 25 – 30 HRs and post a decent average (.280 – .300). If a Lind owner is panicking, snap him up as he’ll be a great 100+ RBI source.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Eric Keen on May 26, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Great analysis, I enjoyed it a lot. Assuming they keep Encarnacion as 3B, there’s going to be a major playing time fight between Snider (when he gets healthy), Bautista, and Lewis. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Bautista move to 3B full-time if he keeps up anything close to his current level of production. What’s your take on that scenario?


  2. Posted by Albert Lang on May 26, 2010 at 10:50 am

    As a huge AL East fan, i knew the Jays were playing well, but those hitting stats are insane (in my opinion).

    I kind of forgot about Travis Snider in my write-up (which is odd considering i and you wrote about him extensively before the injury).

    Great point, as the Snider injury, saved a huge problem with Edwin coming back. I think they are pretty wedded to Edwin as a long term piece there. I could see them moving someone to first and benching overbay or just doing a mild rotation, benching Snider against lefties, for instance.

    I think you are right that Edwin/Bautista could lose some playing time. They seem to like Lewis in the lead-off spot…so, oddly enough, he might be the safest


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