Blue Jays: Five positives from the month of August
It was admittedly a forgettable month for Canada’s team. Although they now limp into September with a subpar record, there were several positive takeaways from the second month of summer baseball.
We’ve all seen the headlines, the stats and the tweets. The Blue Jays finished up the month of August 13-15, bringing their season’s record to a disappointing 61-73. Many, including the players themselves, now are understanding that this season will not end fruitfully for the boys in blue.
As true as that may be, there are several positive stories that developed last month. With the goal of warming your soggy memory of the month of August, here are five positive takeaways from August 2018:
1. Morales’ (Partial) Return to Market Value
It was clear that Kendrys Morales’ first half of the season would not have sat well with the Blue Jays front office. Slashing a meek .203/.277/.341 through the first two months of the year, Morales’ three-year contract began to look more and more like a spectacular waste of money and time.
After the All-Star break, however, the Cuban DH bounced back with extreme ferocity, smashing nine homers in August with a slash line of .253/.323/.563. For the year, he’s been worth a 1.1 WAR, good enough for fifth on the current roster. If evaluated on Fangraphs’ scale of the price of WAR, Morales is producing approximately 72% of what he “should” be producing, according to that linear estimation.
Now, barely achieving two-thirds of the contract’s market value is by no means a victory, but it does show that Morales is at least worth something in a season where many faithful fans were calling for his release. Oh, and hitting a home run in seven straight games was also pretty exciting.
2. Grichuk’s Sensational Summer
Though he showed definite signs of breaking out of his early-season slump, Randal Grichuk solidified his spot in 2019 with a red-hot August in which he slashed .316/.356/.551 with five home runs, 13 RBI and eight doubles. For the month, Grichuk racked up 13 extra base hits and added six walks and 12 runs scored.
With that, Grichuk has now slashed .300/.351/.564 since the All-Star break and has slashed .271/.325/.500 since the beginning of July. If you take out his abysmal month of April, the Rosenberg, Texas native has batted .278/.330/.546 in 75 games (273 ABs) on the year.
Though it’s not reasonable to omit one month of play from a player’s stats (even one that produced a .089/.197/.179 slash), it’s clear that Grichuk has turned his season around in a big way.
3. Improved Team Hitting
Though it might come as a surprise, the Blue Jays had arguably their best month hitting-wise this season in August. With season highs in team batting average, on-base percentage, total bases, home runs, and hits, the team combined for a .784 OPS, fifth in all of baseball.
Elsewhere in the sabermetrics department, the Jays were fifth in the league in team wRC+ (112), fifth in wOBA (.338) and seventh in BB% (8.7%).
Despite a losing record, the team still showed signs of improvement. With new additions to the roster that figure to make an impact in the coming seasons, the month of August, from an offensive standpoint, should be viewed as an undeniable step in the right direction for this team.
4. Continued Dominance of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
As expected, superstar prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had another fantastic month, slashing .333/.409/.552 with 14 RBI in 96 at-bats for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. With 12 walks and only 10 strikeouts, Vladdy scored 12 runs and knocked six doubles.
More from Toronto Blue Jays News
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
Though it comes as no surprise that Vlad has continued to excel in the upper minors, it’s still quite nice to see the numbers maintain themselves over the course of what has seemed like an endless season.
While Guerrero Jr. has all but guaranteed himself a spot on the 2019 team, his recent mastery only confirms what we already know about him.
5. Short But Sweet Season Debuts
Even if it wasn’t at the forefront of the month, many Blue Jays players (mainly pitchers) made their first appearances in the month of August, the majority of them to some degree of success.
Justin Shafer (5.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 K, 0.800 WHIP), Mike Hauschild (8.1 IP, 4.32 ERA, 5 K, 1.320 WHIP) and Thomas Pannone (16.2 IP, 4.86 ERA, 12 K, 1.140 WHIP) all made decent showings last month. Despite the minuscule nature of the samples, it’s still encouraging to see. On the offensive side of the ball, Danny Jansen (.308/.391/.513, 5 2B, 0.254 WPA in 39 AB) and Billy McKinney (.395/.478/.763, 5 2B, 0.318 WPA in 38 AB) have been stellar as well.
With many other new names set to make their debuts in September, it’s an exciting time to be checking lineup cards to see which new faces will don the Blue Jays uniform.