The Blue Jays were dealt a massive blow to the lineup this week when it was revealed that Devon Travis will miss significant time following knee surgery to clean up some cartilage. While Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney have given decent production in very small sample sizes, they shouldn’t be relied upon everyday. It’s time for management to call up Jason Leblebijian from Buffalo.
There are many people that are probably wondering who Jason Leblebijian is. Leblebijian was drafted by the Blue Jays during the 2012 draft in the 25th round. Overall, he was the 775th player taken in the draft. He didn’t come with much fanfare or excitement, so he fell through the cracks as his rise to AAA took place.
Leblebijian was in the low minors for quite a while. He didn’t move up much as he bounced around from Dunedin, Lansing, and Vancouver all the way until 2016. 2016 marked the 2nd year in the row that Leblebijian found himself in Dunedin, but then he broke out.
In 222 plate appearances in Dunedin last year, he hit .295/.362/.420 with a wRC+ of 132. He was promoted to AA New Hampshire and had 306 plate appearances. In those PA’s, he hit .293/.359/.448 with a wRC+ of 125.
The start of the 2017 season had Jason Leblebijian just one level below the majors. Through 225 plate appearances, he is hitting .310/.382/.515 with 8 home runs, 41 RBI and a wRC+ of 151. He is scorching the ball in Buffalo. Combine that with the fact that he can play adequate enough defense, it is time to call Jason Leblebijian up to the MLB.
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The Blue Jays seem content to roll with Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney at second base, for now. The second base situation without Devon Travis is very ugly. Goins is currently sitting at a -0.4 fWAR while Barney is at -0.3. Combine the two of them and they’re almost a full win below replacement level. For a team that is expecting to contend, that will not do when there is also a hole in left field.
It’s been an up-and-down few months for both Goins and Barney. Barney hit .292 in April but is only hitting .207 in May. Through 15 plate appearances for Barney in June, he doesn’t have a hit. In April, Goins wasn’t any better, hitting .200. May was slightly better with a .231 average including 3 home runs and 16 RBI. However, in June, Goins has 2 hits in 19 plate appearances.
It does seem as if the Blue Jays are fine with 2nd base being a glove first position with any type of offensive contribution being a bonus. The problem with that is, Goins isn’t hitting and he’s actually at -1.7 dWAR. Barney is even worse at the plate and is playing decent defense. They’re hardly getting any value out of Barney or Goins.
Leblebijian is 26 years old, so he isn’t a spring chicken anymore. He’s hitting the cover off the ball in Buffalo, can play good enough defense, and has positional versatility as he’s played at 3rd base and in the outfield. So why won’t the Blue Jays call him up? Management does seem to believe that Barney and Goins are good clubhouse guys. How can you tell? Well, if they’re not providing any value whatsoever, why hasn’t management decided to part ways with one of Goins or Barney to bring up Leblebijian?
As you saw above, Jason Leblebijian can hit. He would solidify the lineup and the Blue Jays may get some offensive value out of 2nd base. You would still be able to keep Goins or Barney around if Leblebijian struggles at the big league level. It’s time for the Blue Jays to call up Jason Leblebijian.