Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays: Grading the first quarter of the season

Zachary Worden
Apr 5, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; The Toronto Blue Jays celebrate the win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; The Toronto Blue Jays celebrate the win over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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May 18, 2021; Dunedin, Florida, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez (37), center fielder Randal Grichuk (15) and left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrate as they beat the Boston Red Sox at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Outfield

The Blue Jays have had five different players roam the outfield so far in 2021 and none of them are named George Springer. With Springer only getting in four games so far, Randal Grichuk has been outstanding in his place up the middle.

After looking like he may have been on the outside of the starting lineup when the roster was fully healthy, Grichuk came out of the gates on fire. He was one of the team’s best hitters through the first few weeks of the season, and despite cooling off a bit recently he still holds a 117 wRC+ and has been a positive contributor both offensively and defensively.

For Teoscar Hernandez, 2021 has seen him miss 16 games after testing positive for COVID-19. But when he has been on the field, he has picked up right where he left off after an outstanding 2020. Hernandez has a wRC+ of 136 and a slash line of .304/.366/.480. Having Hernandez in the lineup gives the Blue Jays an extra dimension to the already dynamic offensive group and since his return on April 30th, the team is 12-7.

The other outfielder who has received the majority of the playing time is Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Gurriel Jr. has had a tough start to the season only slashing .228/.243/.317. His hard-hit percentage has dropped by just less than 15 per cent from last season, as he just isn’t squaring up balls as much as he has in the past. With an increasing chase rate and decreasing walk rate, Gurriel Jr. may be in need of a hot streak to get himself back on track.

Jonathan Davis and Josh Palacios both have less than 50 at-bats this season and neither has been overly productive in their appearances. Both have been below league average hitters and neither has played enough to produce any relevant defensive stats.

Grade: B

This is a tough group to grade as we have yet to really see a fully healthy Blue Jays outfield group. But what have seen is two of the three everyday starters producing at a high level, while Gurriel Jr. tries to find his groove this season.

Overall the Blue Jays outfielders rank 21st in MLB in WAR. The group has evidently struggled as a whole with Hernandez and Springer missing so much time, but hopefully, when Springer gets back on the field, the Jays will have one of the best groups in all of baseball.

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