After making a splash at the Trade Deadline, there were some curious Blue Jays roster moves. Firstly, the choice to send Danny Valencia packing by designating him for assignment (he was then claimed up by the Athletics) was a tad confusing. Then, it was made even more suspect when Munenori Kawasaki was brought up from AAA to provide middle infield protection. This has led several folks to ask how Chris Colabello made it through and is still on the roster.
If you look at the versatility needed to win, Danny V might actually provide you with more options than Colabello does. Valencia can play 3rd, 1st and can be plugged into LF. Colabello can play 1st and a highly sketchy LF. That’s it. We’re going to leave the DH thing alone for now. And, let’s be honest, the LF conversation should not even be considered as neither one are a good option. With the addition of Ben Revere rounding out the outfield, the Blue Jays have all the starting outfielders they need at this point. Should the need arise, Colabello’s
inability to fill in the outfield in an emergency made him the Blue Jays’ choice to stay.
So, defensively speaking, the Blue Jays are set with Kawasaki’s ability to play 3rd as well. It’s about maximizing the talent you have. Danny V’s skill set was apparently not wide enough for the Blue Jays. But, hold on! We just said that Colabello can play first base and anything else is highly questionable. So, how does it make sense to keep him and say you are maximizing your roster?
Toronto Blue Jays
Well, in a piece by Mark Zwolinski at The Star, GM, Alex Anthopoulos, sheds some light on their thinking: “With Colabello, he was going to hit ahead of Valencia”. And, there it is. Colabello is the better bat, at least in the eyes of manager, John Gibbons and AA.
Now, everyone will immediately jump on Colabello’s obscenely high and illogical BABIP as a reason that we shouldn’t trust him as a hitter. It is as though a high BABIP means we’re being tricked by everything else. But, it is kind of true. His BABIP is out of this world. At .392, he is experiencing a higher amount of ‘luck’ than most. Poor Danny V only reached .353. Maybe neither of them can be trusted as hitters. I jest, of course. But, while it is true that Colabello has been the beneficiary of a high BABIP, we cannot hastily discount his performance with the bat.
In 2015, he has a .315/.358/.496 line. He’s managed 10 HR and 41 RBI and 40 runs scored. But, here’s the thing: his numbers are not that different than Danny V. In 9 more games, Colabello has managed similar performance in K% (24.9% to 23.1% from DV), walk rate (6.2% for CC and 5.3% for DV), wRC+ (135 for CC, 128 for DV). With all of these similarities, there has to be something different, right?
How about vs lefties? Both hitting from the right side, one of them has to be hitting lefties better. Well, Colabello is hitting them to the tune of .311 while Danny V sits at .316. Against righties, it is .316 for Colabello to Valencia’s .279. At the end of the day, there appears to be no real difference in the bats that either of these guys bring. What about power? It has to be power, right? We know how much the Blue Jays love the big hits. Colabello brings an ISO of .181. Valencia checks in at .210. When all is said and done, Valencia just might get the edge, here.
And yet, the Blue Jays view Colabello’s bat as better. As stated above, they put him ahead of Valencia. Maybe they’ve been fooled by his BABIP and what appears to be more success. Maybe they should see this: Colabello’s BABIP has decreased since May. We saw a .477 (.368 avg) mark then. In June, it dropped to .391 (.300 avg), which is still good, but trending downward. In July, it dropped to .222 (.224 avg). Indeed, his ‘luck’ appears to be running out. A BABIP of .421 in the first half of the season has turned into a pumpkin (.231) in the second half.
Also from Jays Journal: Is Josh Donaldson an Early AL MVP Candidate?
And, yet, the Blue Jays feel that Colabello’s bat is worth keeping around. He has had some clutch hits for them, there is no doubt. He’s had some big ones. But, are the Blue Jays being fooled by his early success and simply going to keep going to the well until it dries up? If so, they may find themselves wishing they hadn’t. And, judging by the trend, that could come sooner rather than later.