Blue Jays Player of the Week: Justin Smoak


Early on this season the starters were struggling mightily but throughout May and June the rotation steadily improved. The Blue Jays’ rotation had climbed to about league average level. And then this week happened—the starters reverted heavily to their early season form. The Jays saw one good start, one adequate one and 5 poor to terrible outings. Not at all surprisingly the Jays went 2-5 in those games—they lost the bad starts and won the good ones. In three consecutive games, the starters dug the team imposing to insurmountable deficits in the first inning. The offence tried their utmost to salvage the poor starts but it’s totally unreasonable to ask your hitters to bail you out of a 8-0 deficit before they’ve even had a chance to hit.

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The calls for a trade have increased to a roar but no dominoes have fallen as of yet around the league. Really, this need should have been addressed in the offseason. Everyone knew the Jays needed another starter even before Stroman fell to injury. If the Blue Jays fail to make the playoffs, the blame should belong mostly to Rogers.

Back to this past week, in spite the struggles of his peers, Mark Buehrle put together a great start on Canada Day. He threw 7 innings, allowed just 4 hits/walks, one earned run and got 7 strikeouts. Buehrle is the pitcher of the week by a fairly wide margin. A few relievers had solid weeks but nothing too remarkable.

For position players, there were 4 who deserved to be player of the week. It was the tightest race all season. One could make good arguments for any one of Justin Smoak, Jose Bautista, Devon Travis and Kevin Pillar.

Bautista had 2 home runs, 2 doubles, 8 walks, 2 singles and 7 RBI in 21 ABs for an OPS of 1.133. Devon Travis had 2 doubles, 9 singles, 4 RBI, and a walk in 22 ABs for a 1.091 OPS. Kevin Pillar had a home run, 3 doubles, 8 singles, 1 RBI, and no walks in 29 ABs for a 1.034 OPS. Justin Smoak hit 3 home runs, 1 single, 4 RBI, and 3 walks in 10 ABs for a 1.838 OPS.

WAR didn’t provide much clarity as Pillar, Bautista and Smoak all had 0.5 WAR and Travis just behind at 0.4 (as was Buehrle). We’re going to hand player of the week to Justin Smoak. He had about half the plate appearances of the other 3, had a BABIP of only .167 and yet overcame both of those obstacles to be in this conversation. In a tiny sample of 13 PAs, his ISO was .900 and his wRC+ was a gaudy 374. He continued to provide dependable defence as well. It was a statement week for a bench player looking to be more.

All the starters, except Buehrle, gave the Razzie their best shot. Steve Delabar also put himself in the mix allowing 5 earned in 2 innings. However, Matt Boyd was the clear winner allowing 7 earned in 0 innings—The dreaded *.** ERA. It was a historically brutal start. Boyd carried himself well afterward and had the right attitude. He vowed that “it won’t happen again.” It would be a pretty difficult feat to repeat.

Next: Josh Donaldson Named All-Star Starter