2 Blue Jays who have exceeded expectations and 2 who have fallen short through 50 games
By Edward Eng
Falling Short of Expectations
Alejandro Kirk was just coming off an incredible season in which he became a first-time All-Star, in addition to receiving his first ever Silver Slugger award. He set career highs in hits (134), doubles (19), home runs (14), RBI (63), and total bases (195). As a result, many were expecting more of the same or even more form him as he continued to build upon his successful career so far with the Jays, especially after their supposed heir to the catching position, Gabriel Moreno, was traded away this past offseason to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Unfortunately for Kirk, he has taken somewhat of a step backward this year to start the 2023 season, as he is currently posting career lows in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and OPS+. On the bright side, he is still demonstrating great plate discipline, with a BB/K ratio about 1:1, as well as providing decent run production with two home runs and 12 RBI. From Statcast observations, it appears as though he hasn’t been able to generate as much power from his swings this year, with exit velocities and launch angles way below his usual standards, leading to more ground outs like this:
If he was still developing like in his first couple of years in the big leagues, people would probably be more forgiving. However, because of his massive offensive output from last season, much more was expected from him, especially when Danny Jansen was struggling mightily to start the season. Now with Jansen appearing to have hurt his groin in the recent game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Kirk will be relied upon more heavily to backstop the Jays, so he will definitely need to readjust his hitting mechanics soon and step it up in the coming days.