Blue Jays: Good, Bad and Ugly – Ezequiel Carrera
Jays Journal takes a look back at 2017 and the good, bad and ugly of each individual performance from the roster. Today we set our sights on Toronto’s fourth outfielder, Ezequiel Carrera, and consider his offensive and defensive performances on the field this past season.
Carrera has been a member of the Blue Jays organization since signing with them during the 2014 off-season. In that time he has proven to be a reliable and often called upon player that can step in at a moment’s notice, whether to pick up a bat and pitch hit or to provide some defensive relief in the outfield. In his first season with the Jays in 2015, Carrera was given the opportunity to start in 44 games yet finished the season taking part in 91 of them. In 2016, he finished the season appearing in 110 games having been able to start in 68 of them.
In January 2017, Carrera signed a one year, $1.1625 million contract and assumed the role of fourth outfielder joining the ranks of Jose Bautista, Kevin Pillar and Steve Pearce. With Pearce and seemingly most of the Jays on or heading to the DL at one time or another in 2017, Carrera was given the responsibility of starting in almost half the seasons’ games (71) while participating on some capacity in 131 games total. Not bad for a guy considered to be the backup outfielder.
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On Opening Day 2017, Carrera was given the chance to start in left field. He finished the game with two hits including one double and earned his first RBI of the season. Out of the 25 games the Jays played in April, Carrera played in 22 of them; he finished the month with 64 at bats, 20 hits and a .313 average, a solid and impressive performance for a player regarded exclusively for utility.
A great take away for Carrera occurred in the month of July 2017, specifically in production and average. While he didn’t have as many opportunities at the plate as an everyday player, having just 37 at bats, he made up in the quality of these at bats. Carrera hit three home runs, three doubles and 13 singles while ending the month with a .351 average and an OPS of 1.090.
Carrera was dependable, reliable, and proved valuable to the team as the season wore on. He was credited with five outfield assists while committing only five errors in 131 games played. He was also responsible for 140 putouts and finished the season with a fielding % of .973.
Carrera was given ample playing time because of the injuries that plagued the team. As much as Ezequiel attempted to thrive on this, he eventually pushed himself too far and in June ended up fracturing his right foot and joining many of his comrades on the DL.
Zeke struck out 75 times in 287 at bats, a 26% rate – higher than the league average. Compared to other players, it’s not an entirely alarming figure; however, this percentage shows Carrera was simply swinging for the fences at times, and not succeeding in his quest for a hit. His average jumped around month to month but slowly decreased in the latter months of the season, specifically in August with a .250 average in 36 ABs, to a meager .237 in September with 38 ABs.
It can be difficult to look at the negatives of athletes, especially ones that aren’t marketed or play every day. The same can be said for Ezequiel Carrera. While the expectations of him coming into the 2017 was to be a filler, a backup and all-around utility player, he ended up being more. Because he played in more games, we saw more of the highs and lows including missed routine throws or catches that should have been made. Carrera looked out of place and unfamiliar at times while also committing several misplays.
Though the Jays were able to sign Carrera at a relatively low cost for the 2017 season, the lack of production might stand out in this regard. Having Pearce and Carrera take turns in left field proved to be a way to get by, a temporary band aid. Yet the Jays will need to fix this if they intend to be a powerful contender in the upcoming 2018 season. Carrera is considered a decent and reliable utility man, but what the Jays need for next season is a productive and resilient everyday player. They need a player whom can accomplish more hits and runs while also being a strong presence in the outfield.