This year has not been the start most Toronto Blue Jays‘ fans envisioned when the 2013 team was put together. Early injuries and frigid bats have led to a slow start for the blue birds. Today the hometown heroes came through with a gritty effort against the New York Yankees to avoid an ugly early season sweep. The game was a back-and-forth affair that included three lead changes and some questionable pitching before the Blue Jays took advantage of their depth, crushing the Yankees bullpen and winning 8-4.
One notable player who missed time early was Brett Lawrie. Before you jump all over me for my bold headline, to clarify I am not saying that Lawrie is the Blue Jays’ most valuable player. Obviously that distinction will be held by Jose Bautista at for the least foreseeable future. But Lawrie might be the most important player in the lineup for this year’s edition of the Toronto Blue Jays.
The stats so far this season haven’t been pretty. Going into today’s game he was hitting 2 for 19 for a paltry .105 average with one RBI. But I’m not too worried about this very small sample size. Today batting eighth in the Jays lineup, Lawrie came through with the game-winning hit smacking a two-run double down the left field line. A couple of batters later Jays fans witnessed a classic Melky Cabrera moment when he cashed in Lawrie with a single through the 3-4 hole. J.P. followed up with another late game home run to tack on some insurance.
But back to Brett. At the young age of only 23 Lawrie is already playing in his third big-league season. His fun-to-watch yet reckless style has led to some missed playing time early in this career, but so far injuries are about the only thing that has slowed him down. Not many kids his age have this type of success at the major-league level. Even after his slow start Lawrie has a very realistic shot to bat a solid .280 this year. And although he’s far from perfect in the field he has incredible range and takes away countless hits over the course of a season. He may make a blunder or two trying to do too much, but I’ll take that for the highlight reel plays we are blessed to watch on a regular basis. To me he looks like a young David Wright (or maybe even better).
Lawrie also brings much-needed energy to the Blue Jays squad. He’s a Rogers Centre fan favourite and I think one of my best Jays memories of recent years was his first walk-off when he showed off a shocking vertical leap on his way home to the plate. I know this doesn’t mean much for some, but these intangibles can keep a team excited to play baseball during the dog days of summer. And although he has had some early setbacks he should be able to bounce back and only continue to get better.
As Canadians we are proud to call Lawrie our own – hopefully this year he will a key piece in leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a postseason berth.