Which Blue Jays batters have gotten off to a good start on their 2018 seasons with a strong Spring Training debut? Which players have not? A look at some of the most eye-catching stats from the first couple of weeks of Spring Training.
Most baseball fans know that Spring Training success, or failure for that matter, hardly hints at what’s to come in the regular season. Batters are trying to regain their timing, pitchers are fine-tuning their mechanics, and managers are testing out the organization’s best prospects. Furthermore, Spring Training statistics provide an extremely small sample size to analyze trends. However, it also doesn’t hurt to keep track of who’s hot and who’s cold heading into the new season. With that in mind, here are the best (and worst) starts of Blue Jays batters in Spring Training 2018.
Kevin Pillar (14 AB, .500/.533/.786)
After emulating the pre-game routine of 2017 All Star, Justin Smoak, Pillar has shown signs of an offensive breakout. It remains to be seen whether this is just one of Pillar’s annual hot starts, or a full season breakout similar to that of Justin Smoak.
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Randal Grichuk (11 AB, .364/.417/.545)
Slated to start off the season as the successor to Jose Bautista in right field, Grichuk has not disappointed. While he still has more strikeouts (3) than walks (1) in Spring Training, it will be interesting to see if Grichuk’s off season eye-workouts lead to better results over the course of a full season.
Anthony Alford (17 AB, .294/.278/.647)
Being one of the Blue Jays’ top three prospects, Alford has a lot riding on his shoulders. He hasn’t disappointed thus far, and with some additional time in the minors, Blue Jays fans should expect to see Alford at the MLB level sooner rather than later.
Jason Leblebijian (19 AB, .316/.409/.579)
Who? Most casual Blue Jays fans might not have heard of Leblebijian, but he’s been with the Blue Jays since 2012. Never a true top prospect, Leblebijian was often overlooked as a utility option due to presence of Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney. Although Goins and Barney are gone, it’s still improbable for Leblebijian to make the Opening Day roster over players like Yangervis Solarte, Aledymis Diaz, and even Gift Ngoepe.
Yangervis Solarte (17 AB, .118/.167/.294)
Due to the oft-injured duo of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis, Solarte has a huge role in the upcoming 2018 season. It’s just 17 at bats, and Solarte recently hit his first home run as a Toronto Blue Jay. Nothing to be worried about.
Teoscar Hernandez (16 AB, .188/.188/.438)
While many fans considered Hernandez to be an outfield option to start the season, his five strikeouts to zero walks bring up a cause of concern. Always a hitter with a tendency to strike out, Hernandez needs to improve his contact skills in order to become a dependable regular at the MLB level.
Justin Smoak (15 AB, .133/.188/.133)
Justin Smoak was one of the best Blue Jays hitters in 2017. After coming off an All-Star caliber season, Smoak needs to show the league that last year was a legitimate breakout campaign. He’s a pivotal piece to the Blue Jays lineup so let’s hope that he can start to heat up as the Opening Day draws closer.