Chad Mottola deserved better than this. The Toronto Blue Jays
hitting coach former hitting coach, as previously reported by many Jays media outlets, was credited with fixing the likes of Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, Brett Lawrie, and Anthony Gose. I’m sure his next major project would have been fixing J.P. Arencibia now that the stresses of the season were over. That project was not meant to be however since the Blue Jay front office let Mottola go yesterday evening. His predecessor, 1st Base Coach Dwayne Murphy, also retired from the team yesterday.
So why Mottola? Why did the former #5 overall pick in the 1992 draft get canned? Perhaps we should start with the team stats for this past season and compare them to the previous years of Murphy. The Jays must have gotten worse offensively right? Last season, with the bats under Murphy’s control, the Jays managed to score 716 runs. So it had to have been awful right? To fire a guy that was once considered the hitting guru of the organization, it had to be downright… umm… offensive… or not… right?
712 runs scored. A -4 run difference. That’s it? There has to be a justification for this though. The Blue Jays quietly improved by 1 game this season. As we all know, that’s still only good enough for last place in the AL East. Sure, it’s expected that heads were going to roll, but Chad Mottola? He’s the guy that gets canned?
So if it’s not the run differential, what else could it be? The Jays offense was sort of inconsistent and streaky, especially with runners in scoring position. Was it that? With about 40 more opportunities to drive in runs in 2013 (1234 ABs vs 1195 ABs), the Jays hit 4 less HRs (39 vs 43), 3 more RBIs (463 vs 460), batted .006 lower (.254 vs .260), and had an OBP .007 lower (.332 vs .339). These aren’t exactly stats worth firing a batting coach over. Maybe the most telling stat is the 43 double plays Toronto hit into this season with RISP, compared to the 30 from last season. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter what month it was this season, the Blue Jays were 7th worst in all of baseball at grounding into the double play, with 133 this season. That’s up by 24 GIDPs last season. Still, that’s not exactly a stat that will get you fired after one season.
If you look below, even the numbers, while not fantastic, do not justify for Mottola’s dismissal. While the HRs and RBIs were slightly down, the BAs and OBPs were higher than they have been in the last three years. Total Bases was up from last season. After a rough April, which saw the Blue Jays hit .231, Toronto responded by hitting .257 the rest of the season. The batting numbers may have been higher too if Jose Reyes didn’t miss 43% of the season and somebody else could have played catcher besides Arencibia.
Another stat that doesn’t justify Mottola’s firing is that the Ks were actually DOWN. At one point, this team had one of the worst strike out rates in baseball. For four consecutive months (April-July), Jays hitters brought their strikeout rate down (April 217, May 198, June 175, July 164). It did go up in the remaining two months, but out of 15 AL teams, the Jays were 4th LEAST in total team strikeouts! No, you did not read that wrong. 4TH… LEAST.
So let the numbers speak for themselves. Check out below and you be the judge. I think more of the Blue Jay world would agree with me that the Blue Jays fired the wrong coach (I’m referring to Pete Walker, but that’s for another time). All I have to say about Mottola is 1 name: Adam Lind. There are several others, but Mottola making Lind relevant again is the most telling as to why Mottola should have never been fired yesterday.
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