The Blue Jays are mired in another offensive slump, and it has me wondering if it’s time for the front office to make a change to their hitting coach.
If it feels like we’ve watched this movie before, it’s because right now the Blue Jays’ offence looks about as potent as the 2017 version of the team, and that’s not a compliment.
The Blue Jays are hitting just .229 as a team prior to Tuesday’s loss at the hands of the Red Sox, with an on base percentage of just .309. The anemic numbers are good for 27th in all of baseball, and second to last in the American League. Rick Porcello also took a three hitter into the seventh inning against them on Tuesday night, when they ultimately finished with just three runs on seven hits.
The problems have been more than obvious, as Kendrys Morales, Russell Martin, Devon Travis and more have batting averages below the Mendoza line, and even the best hitters like Josh Donaldson have struggled to perform to expectations. Donaldson has battled injuries pretty much all season, but right now he’s hitting just .234/.333/.423 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 137 at bats.
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The fan base is understandably growing restless with the recent skid, and as much as baseball requires patience during struggles like this, at some point the front office and/or coaching staff is going to have to make some more drastic decisions. John Gibbons has already experimented with things like putting Russell Martin at shortstop and left field, and he’s limited to working with the players at his disposal. Right now there are only so many options.
There are routine calls for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to get promoted as well, but I don’t think we’re going to see that for at least a little while yet. There are also several folks who believe that Gibbons’ time as the Blue Jays skipper might be coming to an end if they can’t right the ship in a hurry, but I’m not sure I believe that’s the right decision either. I do feel like the organization is reaching a point where they have to do something, as sitting idly by and watching the team flounder sends a pretty negative message to the fans, even if it might be in the best long term interest of the club.
My solution? I’d had hitting coach Brook Jacoby his pink slip, and I think you could argue that the move could have come a long time ago.
The Blue Jays finished the 2017 season second to last in baseball in team batting average, slashing .240/.312/.412 as a group. Granted they dealt with a wide variety of injuries to key players that pushed them into routinely starting Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney, and a struggling Jose Bautista, but those are rough numbers.
The thing is, even in their last playoff season of 2016, they weren’t a whole lot better. As I’m sure you remember, they lived and died by the long ball that season, and their slash line was just .248/.330/.426, good for 23rd in baseball and 12th in the American League. They were a strong group in 2015, their first of the two recent playoff appearances, but it’s been awhile since this offence has performed up to it’s potential. And Jacoby has been around for a lot of the struggles.
He was hired in the winter of 2014, and it was the 2015 season that saw the Blue Jays snap their more than two decade long playoff drought, and also finish season in baseball in batting average as a team at .269. That first impression from Jacoby’s work was excellent, but unfortunately the success hasn’t carried on much beyond that first year. Pretty much since the conclusion of the 2015, and even at times during it, we’ve watched an offence that strikes out too much, struggles to capitalize with runners in scoring position, and has just generally failed to live up to their potential.
Are all these offensive problems the result of Jacoby’s tutelage? Not at all. However, when things get as bad as they have for the Blue Jays recently, some sort of change has to be made, and I’d argue that bringing in a new voice for the hitting cage makes as much sense as anything. He won’t be the only coach to lose his job this season if this team doesn’t start performing, but if you’ve gotta start somewhere, that’s where I would begin. With all due respect to Mr. Jacoby, this offence has been underperforming for quite some time.