3 positive and 2 worrisome signs on the Blue Jays one quarter into the season
By Edward Eng
The Toronto Blue Jays have gotten off to a great start for the first quarter of the 2023 season. They currently sit in third place in the AL East division with a 24-18 record, 7.5 games behind the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays, and sixth overall in all of MLB. Overall, they may have had some ups and downs along the way despite the success, but it had been more positives than negatives for the most part.
Nevertheless, let’s take this time to review and look at a few positive and worrisome signs for the team as they head into the second quarter of the season.
Home Sweet Home
What has powered the Jays to their strong start has a lot to do with their blazing home record of 12-5 so far this year. Their .706 home winning percentage puts them third in all of MLB behind only the Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is crucial because the Jays had started off the season on a long road trip due to renovations at the Rogers Centre. As a result of the unevenness in their initial schedule, they have played 9 less games at home compared to on the road. If they could keep up their strong play at home, that would play well for the Jays as they should be able to make up a lot of ground in the standings later in the season when their number of home games eventually catches up with their road games.
In addition, some people wondered at the start of the season whether the newly renovated outfield wall and altered dimensions at Rogers Centre would have somewhat of an effect on the Jays as they adapted to their new surroundings, but apparently, they are doing even better than expected, putting any doubts to rest. So the Jays have been truly taking “advantage” of home-field advantage this year.
At the start of the season, despite the Jays’ early success, many of the players began the season struggling mightily out of the gate, including some for many weeks into the season. However, those that were expected to be key contributors in the lineup has slowly, but surely worked their way out of their slumps in recent weeks. This included run producers like Brandon Belt and Daulton Varsho, and rotation stabilizer José Berríos.
By busting out recently, they have taken a lot of pressure off some of the others and have helped carry the load to lead to Blue Jays victories the past few weeks. Although there are still quite a few currently mired in slumps, the Jays hope they would eventually work things out like the three above and start helping the team in the near future.
Best Against the Best
In 2022, the Jays often had some trouble when playing teams with greater than .500 winning percentages, going only 45-49 against them. However, in 2023, they have gotten off to a good start against teams with positive winning records, currently ranking in the top 5 in all of MLB with a 15-12 record. This included tough wins against two of the top teams in the league in the Rays (took two of three games) and the Atlanta Braves (swept the three-game series).
This is critical for the Jays in the long run as they must be able to beat the best to be the best, as when they get to the playoffs, every opponent they would be playing are most likely teams sporting a winning percentage above .500. To be able to play up to or even beyond the level of their strong opponents bodes well for the Jays for the rest of the season, as they strive to keep that winning mentality against the best in place.