Blue Jays End Is The Beginning


So, ends the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays season. But, there is another Blue Swagger this week. This edition reflects on not only this week’s successful players; it also makes known who two of the leaders were for the club this season. Could they be leaders next season? Time will tell.

Position Player

The fans, the players, and definitely the Blue Jays media team have declared Jose Bautista the most valuable player for the club this season. Who would argue with that?

Yes, Edwin Encarnacion hit seven RBIs this week to Bautista’s two, but many of those runs came from Bautista getting on base. Joey Bats hit .333 and had a .391 on-base percentage this week, scoring six times, including a home run. You lead your team by example, and you win ballgames by cashing in runners on base. If you don’t have any runners, you have a hard time putting up big numbers in the scoreboard frames.

Dalton Pompey made a splash, this week, to be entered into the Swagger conversation. He does have plenty of it, running aggressively on the bases, playing excellent defence, and getting timely hits. However, those numbers come from only a couple of games, impressive though they may be. Bautista’s sample size is every night he played this season.

Bautista hit 103 RBIs with a .283 batting average, a .403 OBP, and even six stolen bases. Oh, by the way, he hit 35 home runs in the process. His strikeouts (96) were also below’s projected total for the year. When so many players went down with injury, the man put the team on his back and carried them across the finish line to a record above .500. When experts said that the Blue Jays brass should trade a highly-valued, yet ‘injury-prone’, player to get some prospects or another big veteran, Bautista stayed healthy to play 155 games with some of his best stuff since 2011.

Now, when reporters discuss the Blue Jays, they don’t talk about trading Bautista; they talk about who will be filling the other two holes in the outfield next season. If he wasn’t the leader before, Bautista sure is at the forefront when you think of the Blue Jays, now. With leadership comes swagger; with swagger comes leadership. There is a foundation, but who will he lead next year?


Sep 8, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (54) celebrates the win with Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) at the end of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 8-0. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

In the case of Mark Buehrle, he led young talent, like Marcus Stroman, to how to conduct your business on the mound. He led the Blue Jays early in the season to victory on many occasions. He led the club to eight innings of solid shut-out ball, last week. Now, he may need to lead the Blue Jays into the future by ‘dying on his sword’.

It may not be too painful, though.

Last week’s eight innings against the Seattle Mariners, a team who was desperately trying to get into the playoffs, was the game that put him well over the 200-innings milestone, once again. Buehrle only gave up three hits and no runs, striking out ten batters for the win. His record ended at 13-10, giving up only 15 home runs for the season. Some of the outings could have been a bit better, but the Blue Jays got what they paid for: a solid starting pitcher who bleeds runs slowly to keep his team in the game.

Maybe another team is in need of the same services. Buehrle’s name has floated around in trade conversations, as his contract is a stiff one and the Blue Jays in desperate need of established position players. He was well-liked by the fans, and the players loved him in the clubhouse. However, as an asset, Buehrle’s value may better be suited to help bring in more talent than teaching the new talent already with the club.

Final Word

Nothing is for sure in the off-season. Nobody is untouchable if the right offer comes calling. Bautista is likely to stay with the club and Buehrle may be on his way out. In any case, these two players showed confidence and talent for the team they played for, not just for themselves. In a sports culture, where many teams suffer from having ‘a cancer’ or serious narcissism issues, it is nice to see, at least on the field, that these two players showed what it means to be men. Swagger isn’t about being an icon; it’s about being confident enough to make the others around you confident, too.