Blue Jays analytics department playing a dangerous game early on in the season

Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros
Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros / Logan Riely/GettyImages

For fans of the Toronto Blue Jays, the opening week of the 2024 season has looked all too familiar. Long droughts between hits, long looks in the dugout, and a laundry list of things that must be improved to be a contender.

On Wednesday evening, the team was blown out 8-0 by the Houston Astros and made some dubious history in the process. The Jays became the first team in the modern era (since 1901) to record no hits and a single hit in separate games over the first week of a season. 

They were fortunate to come away with a win on Tuesday night, and the player who came up with the decisive hit, Davis Schneider, was noticeably absent from Wednesday’s lineup. The collective brain trust relies heavily on analytics while often ignoring the results on the field. 

This issue became a hot topic during last year’s Wild Card Series loss to the Minnesota Twins when starter José Berrios was lifted after three shutout innings in a crushing, season-ending 2-0 defeat. Now, the club is routinely rolling out the likes of Kevin Kiermaier, Cavan Biggio, Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, and Daulton Varsho despite the lack of production from that quartet. 

Kiermaier has one hit in 18 at-bats and has looked lost. Biggio has one hit in his last 10 ABs, and IKF and Varsho have combined for one extra-base hit this season. Manager John Schneider can’t keep trotting out similar lineups featuring players who just aren’t contributing. 

Ernie Clement and Davis Schneider should be getting more playing time in the upcoming weeks and it could present an opportunity to bust the door down and take ownership of a position. But, the franchise has committed two years and $15M to Kiner-Falefa. Kiermaier is playing on a one-year, $10.5M deal and Biggio earned the starting second base job after a resurgent 2023 season and a strong spring. 

It's very early, but Schneider and company can’t continue to stay the course despite the ugly early results. The series in Houston represented the fewest hits (nine) and lowest batting average (.106) in a three-game series in franchise history, signaling that some sort of adjustment is necessary. 

The definition of insanity is attempting the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different outcome. As much faith as the leadership group has in its players, it’s time to put up or shut up.