Blue Jays bench players providing some consistency in 2015
Jul 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marco Estrada (25) celebrates with Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) after striking out the third batter during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre. Toronto Blue Jays won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Blue Jays have the league’s most productive offense, and the lion’s share of the credit has gone to the big three of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Along with the likes of Jose Reyes and Russell Martin, the emergence of Kevin Pillar and Devon Travis has produced a lineup that can strike from one to nine.
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One of my annual frustrations with the Blue Jays has been a top-heavy lineup, one that leans heavily on the one-to-five gauntlet but otherwise provides pitchers with a resting spot. Last season saw a laundry list of 29 batters step to the plate, and from Munenori Kawasaki with 274 to Josh Thole with 150 and Chris Getz with 28, there were plate appearances where there frankly shouldn’t have been.
That has improved in 2015, and the Blue Jays can give thanks to a steady group of bench players that has performed relatively well within their roles. Along with filling specialties, such as Danny Valencia against left-handed pitching, several have gone above expectations and allowed the Blue Jays to roll with a more consistent group of 13 positional players over the past two months.
Ahead, we take a look at Toronto’s five most prominent “bench” players, a list that doesn’t include Chris Colabello, who has gone from “dumpster dive” to the third-highest OPS on the Jays. The group isn’t elite, but it may represent an (all too rare) example of the Jays directly addressing a need with some level of success.
Next: #5: Carrera has stuck longer than we'd thought