Blue Jays’ struggles are simple, they’re just not hitting

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 30: Danny Jansen #9 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on March 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 30: Danny Jansen #9 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a single in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on March 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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You can analyze the performance of the Blue Jays so far this season as much as you like, but it comes down to one simple truth. They’re just not hitting.

It felt like the Blue Jays got cheated out of a chance to mount a comeback against the White Sox on Saturday afternoon when the game was called due to rain. That said, they were going to have to put up a better fight than they did through the first five innings in order to have a chance anyway.

They managed just three hits and a single run again Lucas Giolito in through five innings, and the loss drops them to a record of 18-27 so far this season. While there are a host of reasons why the team is already nine games under .500, the biggest culprit would be pretty tepid offence.

There have been notable struggles such as Teoscar Hernandez needing to be sent down to Triple-A in order to find his confidence at the plate, and the extended opportunities given to players who have since been designated for assignment, like Alen Hanson and Socrates Brito. However, there have been struggles almost across the entire team when it comes to offensive production, and you can hardly blame Charlie Montoyo for how he fills out the lineup card when nearly everyone has performed at a below average clip.

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In fact, according to a tweet from Sportnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith on Friday, the Blue Jays entered the weekend at or near the bottom of several offensive categories as a club including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and wOBA. Even the lowly Orioles are producing better at the plate than the Blue Jays, currently sitting with a .238/.297/.396 slash line, besting the mark of .220/.288/.365 in Toronto.

Eric Sogard has been a massive surprise with his .313/.412/.554 line, but otherwise there’s not much to write home about other than Freddy Galvis‘ solid signing as a free agent. Randal Grichuk has been about what we expect with a line of .249/.310/.438, although there was hope for a step forward for the freshly extended outfielder, especially after such a great second half in 2018.

Otherwise, we’re looking at pretty much universal disappointment. Justin Smoak has a solid .374 on-base percentage, but his batting average of .216 isn’t going to cut it. Hernandez hit .189 before he was sent to Triple-A, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. wasn’t much better at .175 before his defensive struggles got him demoted to build his confidence back up. Danny Jansen has had to focus on defence first as a rookie full-time catcher, but he’s going to have to hit better than .173 in order to keep his current gig.

Brandon Drury has had some big moments and looks to have the confidence of the coaching staff as they shift him around to keep him in the lineup, but he’s still only slashing  .216/.242/.376 so far. Billy McKinney has used a recent hot streak to push his batting average to .242, and young phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has done the same to get up to .219.

The good news is that these players are more talented than they’ve shown so far, and eventually at least some of them are going to pick things up for more than a few games at a time. Vlad Jr. already appears to be doing just that, and Smoak and Grichuk have looked better at the plate recently as well.

Next. Not a whole lot of room for Devon Travis. dark

However, if most or nearly all of the lineup regulars don’t start showing a little more life at the plate, there are talented hitters in the minor leagues waiting for an opportunity. Beyond that the busy trade season of the summer is approaching, and this front office has shown they’re not afraid to make changes. At the rate this offence has performed so far, the work appears to be far from done, even in a rebuilding year.

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