Blue Jays playoff X-factor #4: Dalton Pompey


With just two sleeps standing between the Toronto Blue Jays and playoff baseball, we continue to count down their top-5 X-factors entering the ALDS. As I explained in regards to number five on the list, Justin Smoak, an X-factor is a player with the widest range of potential outcomes. This brings us to Dalton Pompey, whose speed alone could tilt a game from the bottom of the roster.

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Pompey entered the season as a blue chip prospect with the door wide open in centre field, but a slow start landed him back in the minor leagues for the majority of 2015. To his credit, Pompey ironed out his troubles to dominate during the latter half of the season, and has returned to the Blue Jays as their most intriguing reserve player off the bench.

Appearing in 11 games since being recalled, Pompey has gone 5-for-11 with two doubles and a triple, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be called upon to do much hitting in October. Instead, he’ll be first off the bench in any pinch-running situations and should find himself in the majority of games. We’ve seen the great value of this playoff role in the past, as recently as Terrance Gore for the Kansas City Royals last postseason (3SB, 0 PA).

Rostering both Dalton Pompey and Ezequiel Carrera, which I expect to be the case, will give John Gibbons the opportunity to use Pompey situationally while keeping outfield depth on the bench as insurance. Thus saving us all from another episode of Chris Colabello in left field. From the starting nine alone, Pompey would be a sensible base running replacement for Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin, Justin Smoak, Dioner Navarro (catching Estrada) and potentially Troy Tulowitzki.

Pompey has stolen three bags while being caught once since returning in early September, but it’s important to remember that speed does not directly correlate to being a stolen base threat. There’s an art to it, and while Pompey has enormous potential in the area, he’ll need to read pitchers and jump smoother than he has in the past. His speed will benefit the Blue Jays outside of the direct running game, though, as he’s a much safer bet to advance from first to home on a double than the names listed above.

Unlike Gore’s usage with the Royals one year ago, there shouldn’t be much hesitation to leave Pompey in the game either. It would take a very unique situation with Ben Revere, Kevin Pillar and Jose Bautista firmly entrenched in nine-inning roles, but Pompey’s defense and bat can play. Having a young man with this talent level waiting in the wings is a true advantage, and if deployed correctly, it could win the Blue Jays a ball game.

Next: Does ALDS matchup make Loup a roster necessity?

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