Quick, anyone want to see an ugly slash-line? .176/.235/.324. Now for bonus points, can you guess what slash-line represents?
That’s right kids, that is the incredible line that Toronto Blue Jays hitters are putting forth with runners in scoring position thus far in the 2014 season. That gives them the 28th ranked batting average, 29th ranked on-base percentage, and 21st ranked slugging percentage with a runner on 2nd or 3rd base. Just for giggles, they also rank 24th in RBI (22) and 23rd in runs scored (24) in that situation.
To put it lightly, that’s pretty pitiful for a team that the offense was predicted to be the stronger side of the ball.
To date, the Blue Jays sit in the middle of the pack, 19th to be exact, in scoring chances, having received 74 at-bats with runners in scoring position. And that’s not to say that it has been a total wash for Blue Jays hitters when faced with RBI opportunities. Adam Lind (.750) is cashing them in, as is Jonathan Diaz (.667), but the rest of the offense is sputtering along to no avail.
Edwin Encarnacion has been the biggest culprit to date. Encarnacion has received 11 at bats with runners in scoring position, mostly thanks to the early season hitting of Melky Cabrera and the 12 walks that Jose Bautista has pocketed . The problem is, Encarnacion has yet to cash in a single runner, deliver a single base hit. He has however managed 4 strike-outs.
The aforementioned Melky Cabrera, who has made a ton of noise with his bat, has seemingly failed to know he can hit with runners on as well. He’s received 8 at-bats with runners waiting to come home, and done nothing with them.
Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie, two players many thought would break out this season, are a combined 2 for 18 with 1 home run, 3 RBI, 1 walk, and 5 strike-outs with runners in scoring position. Rasmus himself is 0 for 7.
Despite these struggles scoring runs, the Blue Jays still sit here with a 5-5 record in the early days of this season and surprisingly only a -6 run differential thus far in 2014. The offense will come around, as it is expected to, and Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie, and Colby Rasmus will not continue to sit around batting .162, .108, and .176 all season. Still, they also have to take advantage of guys on base while they can, and not continue to leave opportunities on the table and hope that the other team reciprocates.
Maybe it is a simple case of John Gibbons toying with the line-up again. Maybe Jose Bautista slides up into the 2-hole in order to get things moving faster. Maybe Adam Lind slides behind Melky to simultaneously give him protection and a solid contact bat behind him. Of course, any move is temporary until Jose Reyes returns, but the Blue Jays need something to spark this unit.
Otherwise, it is going to be a long season for the Toronto Blue Jays.