There’s been a lot of fuss about the Blue Jays through the first month of the season. Their 10-17 record is 4th worst in the majors, only ahead of the Angels, Marlins and Astros. They’ve won only one series in April, the first time that’s happened for the team since the 2002 78-84 Blue Jays squad. Jose Reyes looks to be injured until the All-Star game. As well, the Blue Jays fans ourselves are quickly gaining a bad reputation. A sizable contingent want Gibby out and Gaston in. Almost everything that could go wrong at the plate, on the field and on the mound has gone wrong. Their league worsts greatly outweigh their league bests.
Top 5 League Worsts
-League worst in BABIP (.264)
-3rd worst in BA (.231)
-4th worst in OBP (.294)
-5th worst in batting BB/K rate (0.35)
-5th worst in wRC+ (88)
-4th worst in WAR among batters (0.6)
-League worst in rSB with a -4 rating (average runs prevented from stolen bases)
-3rd worst in Fielding Percentage (.983)
-4th worst in ErrR at -3.1 (average runs prevented from errors)
-3rd highest in starter HR/9 (1.41)
-4th highest in starter ERA (5.27)
-4th highest in starter xFIP (4.71)
-5th highest in starter WHIP (1.50)
-5th highest in starter xFIP- (118)
-5th lowest in starter WPA (-1.88)
-5th highest in starter tERA (5.07)
-3rd lowest in reliever swinging strike % (9.1%)
-4th highest in reliever SIERA (3.98)
-5th lowest in reliever K% (19.4%)
Top 5 League Bests
So why am I sharing all of this “April Sadness?” Because April is finally over, and there’s 5 more months left to play catch up.
Good teams have bad months all the time. Last year the Oakland A’s went 11-16 in May (they finished the season with 94 wins and the AL West division). At the same time bad teams have great months, like the 2011 Colorado Rockies who started the season with a 17-8 record in April before finishing the season with only 73 wins. Andrew Stoeten of Drunk Jays Fans wrote a piece collecting the worst stretches of games for eventual playoff teams, with most examples coming from a time where there were only 8 playoff spots. To say that the Blue Jays are out of it is ludicrous.
Another thing that’s become increasingly irritating as a long time fan of the Blue Jays is overtly negative John Gibbons talk. There’s already been articles on this site defending Gibby, but as a denizen of Twitter I see it in real time from people of all backgrounds.
“He hasn’t done anything in 5 years managing the team before 2013. There’s no way he can be good now! #FireGibby #HireCito” (Example argument) Clearly those with this argument do not remember (or were not around for) the 2006 Blue Jays when the team went 87-75 and finish 2nd in the AL East, the best record for the Blue Jays since 1993. That team had starters Casey Janssen, Gustavo Chacin and Shaun Marcum, all with 5.00+ ERA. A team that had .735 OPS Aaron Hill, Shea Hillenbrand at DH, Frank Catalanotto in LF and the impressive John McDonald/Russ Adams platoon at SS. If Gibbons can be “responsible” in the eyes of detractors for Blue Jays losses this season, he sure as hell can be responsible for making an 87 win team with those 8 guys on the 25 man roster.
The 2013 Blue Jays just can’t be 10-17 (.370%) bad for an entire season. It’s just too illogical. We’ve already see Edwin Encarnacion turn it around in the past few weeks after starting off lining and hard-hit grounding out almost every at bat. Maicer Izturis isn’t likely to maintain .107 lower points in BABIP than his career average over 100+ more games. Jose Bautista isn’t going have have the 3rd lowest qualified BABIP in the majors at .167 for a full season, either. Jose Reyes isn’t going to stay more valuable in WAR than everyone else on the team (save for Colby Rasmus, EE and Casey Janssen). J.A. Happ won’t be the only Blue Jays starter to have a sub-4.00 ERA by season’s end. Just like you can’t expect an entire team to have breakout seasons, you can’t expect almost an entire team to have career worsts.
Does this guarantee that the Blue Jays will make the post season? Absolutely not, as they have a lot of work to do. They’re 8.5 games back of the AL-leading Boston Red Sox (HOW?) and are 6 games back of the 2nd WC spot. Fortunately, for the Blue Jays, the team’s next 18 games out of 23 are against AL East opponents, with 3 of those 5 non-AL East games are against the 12-17 Seattle Mariners. The time is now for the team to make up those lost games by getting the team wins and divisional opponents losses. You can’t win the division in April, but it’s possible to lose it in April. Hopefully, the latter will not be the case for a team with such a great potential.