Blue Jays: Ezequiel Carrera is proving me wrong

May 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Ezequiel Carrera (3) reacts as a throw from the outfield bounces over his head after hitting a double against the Seattle Mariners in the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
May 12, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Ezequiel Carrera (3) reacts as a throw from the outfield bounces over his head after hitting a double against the Seattle Mariners in the seventh inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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Among the many surprise contributors for the Blue Jays lately is outfielder Ezequiel Carrera. Despite the fanbase feeling the need to add another outfielder earlier this year, Carrera has quietly thrived at the plate in the starting role.

The Blue Jays have had a lot of surprise contributions lately, which has been a welcome change from the frustrating start to the season. Take Friday night’s game for example, as Darwin Barney, Ryan Goins, Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera each contributed a pair of hits for the Jays on route to a 4-0 victory. While each is talented in their own right, they aren’t the names Blue Jays fans expect to be leading them to victory.

With All-Stars Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and Kendrys Morales each on the sidelines, the Jays have thrived with their second unit slotting into the lineup each night. They’ve won 3 straight games and 9 of their last 14, bringing their record to a borderline respectable 15-21 mark (I know it’s still bad, but you get my point).

While Barney and Goins are benefitting from regular playing time, both Pillar and Carrera were expected to be regular starters in John Gibbons‘ lineup. Pillar has thrived in the leadoff spot and is playing some of the best baseball of his career, which has been well-documented and celebrated thus far.

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On the other end of the spectrum, “Zeke” has quietly put together a very solid stat line, and it seems like it’s flying under the radar. Entering Saturday’s game, Carrera’s slash line sits at .330/.344/.460 with 3 home runs, and 10 RBIs in 96 plate appearances. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but he’s picked up where he left off from last season’s stellar play and is providing a lot of what many Blue Jays’ fans feel is missing from the club.

It would be nice to see his OBP go up a little bit relative to his batting average, but there’s nothing wrong with the production he’s provided. In the recently depleted lineup, Carrera has been frequenting the second spot in the order, providing a more “old school” type in the role that is a solid contact hitter, with decent speed, and the ability to bunt. As we’ve seen from Carrera many times in the past, there are few in baseball as capable when bunting as the Venezuelan.

His early defensive ratings aren’t great, as he’s sitting at -0.5 bWAR at the moment, but that could be corrected in short order. By comparison, Kevin Pillar was in the red by the same measurement until recently, and sits at +0.2 as of this writing. Carrera finished last season with a +0.3 bWAR, so while he’s not a gold glover, he’s not a liability either.

And now that I’ve said all of that, I’ll admit that I was wrong about Zeke, which is always a good thing when you predict regression for a player. It’s still early, but thus far he’s showing that he deserves the playing time he’s receiving, contributing timely hits to a hurting lineup and hitting at a clip that would be among the league leaders if he had a qualifying number of at bats.

Next: Blue Jays: Who will stay and who will go from the 'pen

I’ll readily admit that I was among those calling for the Blue Jays to sign another outfielder, whether it was Angel Pagan or someone else, and so far, it looks like counting out Carrera has been anything but a mistake.

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