As we head into the final week of regular season games, the 87-70 Toronto Blue Jays are surging at just the right time. With a sturdy 14-9 record this month, the Jays are winning games exactly when they need to as they chase down a postseason berth.
The Athletic writers obviously took notice of Toronto's recent performance when they put together their final weekly MLB Power Rankings article (subscription required). The Jays, who currently hold the second Wild Card, got a well-deserved bump up one spot to seventh after ranking eighth last week.
Toronto's boys of summer are looking to become the legends of the fall, riding high after winning three straight series. They're now 7-4 since the demoralizing sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers.
Blue Jays receive fitting end-of-year award
As part of the final rankings, The Athletic writers also handed out end-of-year awards to the final top 10.
The Blue Jays receive the auspicious Phil Connors Award, in all its glory and prestige, for the season that most feels like "Groundhog Day."
If you're not caught up on pop culture from the early 90s, Phil Connors is Bill Murray's character in the iconic 1993 movie Groundhog Day, who gets stuck in a time loop and experiences the same day over and over and over again.
For Jays fans who have watched every game this season, it might feel like whoever came up with this award has been watching along with them. Countless times throughout the season, the current game felt eerily similar to the previous game, which felt much like the game before.
How many nights did it feel like the pitching and defense kept things together while the bats looked close, with plenty of runners on base, but just inept enough to miss that big hit to break the game open?
But as The Athletic's Andy McCullough explains, the award is in reference to the 2023 season feeling much like the 2022 and 2021 seasons.
"The Blue Jays entered this season with a good bit of hype — they were one of the World Series favorites in The Athletic's preseason predictions — and a good bit of talent," writes McCullough. "And yet here they are, in the final week of the regular season, trying to claw into a postseason berth."
McCullough reminds us that the Jays "underplayed their run differential by eight victories in 2021," missing the postseason in heartbreaking fashion. He also brings up that they couldn't catch the collapsing Yankees last season and have been passed by the Rays and Orioles this season.
At least he didn't mention last year's Wild Card meltdown.
But, as McCullough so astutely spells out, if the Jays make it into the playoffs, "they'll be a tough out."
Especially if they stay hot for these final six games and go into the Wild Card Series playing winning baseball.