Blue Jays Offense; Balanced or Beer League?

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Aug 9, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; The Toronto Blue Jays celebrate the win over the New York Yankees after the ninth inning of the game at Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The internet was a buzz yesterday with comments Dallas Braden said during a Royals broadcast. In case you missed it here is the clip.

I don’t know about you but my Facebook feed lit up with comments. Twitter seems to have exploded as well. Heck, even David Price chimed in.

So last night as I lay in bed enduring another sleepless night my brain got churning. Sleepless due to insomnia and an 11 month old daughter (still love you Gwen). I got to thinking about the stats a little more. I can understand the perception of the Jays being beer league. They hit a lot a home runs, I know that, you know that, John Gibbons knows that, Alex Anthopoulos knows that, opposing managers know that, all the pitchers in MLB know that, everyone knows that fact. Watching 3 or 4 games a week, and looking at box scores for the missed games, I feel like the perception of the Blue Jays is off. Being an avid daily fantasy player I know about the Royals offense. I don’t know them as well as the Blue Jays but my perception is that they are a balanced offense. I feel, due to perceptions, the beer league comment actually isn’t that far off. The Blue Jays smash the ball and the Royals move the ball. Without putting words in Mr. Braden’s mouth I think that is what was intended. So? Let’s take a look at some numbers to see how things actually shake out.

Taken from ESPN.com MLB Team Stats

This shows the top 12 teams in MLB for runs scored. I was going to stop at number 10 because that’s where my measuring stick is sitting. But, I added 2 more because the Dodgers and Red Sox have decent lineups as well. I chose to sort by runs scored because at the end of the day whether you smash or move the ball, that is the end game. No surprise, the Blue Jays are sitting with the most runs. We already knew they could score. They sit 2nd in home runs behind the Astros. That gap is closing and I wouldn’t be shocked if the Jays overtook the Astros in the near future. What did jump out at me is the OBP. The Jays sit tied with the Dodgers for the best OBP (.331) while the Royals sit at 10th (.320). While not so eye opening the Jays sit 6th with hits (1008) just behind 5th place Royals (1028). The Jays also sit 6th in batting average (.262) while the Royals are 4th (.270). Again not so shocking, the Jays lead in SLG (.444) and OPS (.775).

Taken from ESPN.com MLB Team Stats

I kept the table sorted by runs scored but moved into more stats. These stats are a little more telling on how the Jays made first in OBP. They sit fourth in total walks (386) compared to thirtieth (255), yeah that’s dead last by the Royals. With all of those walks the Jays are moving runners at a decent clip too. They have 25 sacrifice hits and are 2nd (40) in sacrifice flies. While the Royals have more total stolen bases, the Jays sit at a better percentile on successful steals. Those numbers are pretty telling but we need to dissect this a little more. The comment about the beer league was that the offense was also top heavy. Those stats we just looked at are over the course of the season. As we know, the Blue Jays made some roster moves recently. Let’s dig into how deep the lineups are. For this I don’t have a fancy dancy ESPN table I can sort from so I’m sorry if it’s not as pretty. That said, let’s take a look at how the lineups shake down in the order. These are the lineups I’m drawing my numbers from, with a couple changes.

Taken from ESPN.com listing of the Blue Jays lineup

This is pretty accurate. I will substitute Edwin Encarnacion in to the DH slot and remove Chris Colabello. So the typical batting order would be Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin, Justin Smoak, Kevin Pillar, Ryan Goins (maybe Cliff Pennington but I will keep Goins here), and last but not least Ben Revere.

Taken from ESPN.com listing of the Royals lineup

This is the lineup I am using for the Royals. Like the Jays I will make a substitution. It looks like Alex Gordon if healthy would slot into LF regularly. I will assume the lineup would come in this order; Alcides Escobar, Ben Zobrist, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, and Alex Rios. I will be clumping them in 3’s so the back end of Gordon, Perez, and Rios can be swapped in any order. Now, I will preface this by saying take these numbers with a grain of salt. The lineups will not always be set. The numbers I pulled are from combined teams when a player was involved in a trade. There have been injuries to a few players limiting their numbers. I also got lazy and averaged out BA, OBP, and OPS because I don’t have time to add all the needed fields into excel. In fact, just adding those took much longer than I thought it would. ALRIGHTY!

Both teams have their very visible strengths and weaknesses. The top of the order for the Jays has very clear power. They hit, walk, generally get on base, and as you can imagine home runs are bountiful. The heart of the order starts to slip in the counting stats. But they can still get on base with walks and hits. Still, they come with a respectable number of home runs despite a decent dip in other stats. The bottom of the order gets a nice Revere boost. They seem to pitch in for hits, runs, and steals. The group seems to do a decent job setting the table to the top of the order. As you can imagine a decent chunk of their runs will be RBIs for the top of the order.

I am not saying the Royals are bad but merely using them as a litmus test. As I mentioned earlier, to me they feel like one of the most balanced teams in MLB. Their lineup is stacked with good hitters. What I am trying to get at here is that what is perceived and what is reality can be two different things. The Jays are more balanced than people think. If teams going forward want to sleep on the Blue Jays 5-9 hitters they may be in a for a surprise. Watching this team has been a joy for most of the season. This is just a small peek at the numbers. I also have a feeling the comparisons won’t end anytime soon as the two teams may meet in the playoffs. That is a series I would enjoy watching.

Next: Kevin Pillar: 2015 Gold Glove Winner?

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