If someone wanted to make a bet with me in April that Justin Smoak was the only offensive All-Star, I would have put the deed to my house on the line. 2017 has just gone to show that nothing is for certain in the game of baseball, and that certainly applies to the slugging first baseman, but in the good way.
On the downside, pretty much everyone else has disappointed, whether due to injury or underperformance. Devon Travis rebounded from a dreadful start to break the Blue Jays’ franchise record for doubles in May. Unfortunately he’s now out for what looks like the rest of the year, after having surgery to clean up problems in his troublesome knee.
Kevin Pillar was the team’s best hitter in April, but has since struggled and regressed closer to career norms. Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki spent a good portion of the first half of the disabled list, and I’m not sure that either has been 100% healthy yet this year. Their numbers aren’t where fans and pundits would expect them to be, but injuries have their way of doing that to a player’s slash line.
The team batting average of .244 is 12th in the American League, and it’s been awful with runners in scoring position, coming in at .226. They’ve been heavily reliant on the long ball as usual, only this year they haven’t been hit with the same frequency. It hasn’t been a successful formula.
With Jose Bautista on an expiring contract (assuming his option isn’t picked up), and Donaldson a year away from free agency, there will certainly be chatter around the Blue Jays as a deadline seller. Bautista is a 10-5 candidate, so he would have to approve a potential trade, but he may entertain it to go to a contender, especially if he knows the Blue Jays won’t be bringing him back next year. Losing changes a lot of things.