As we wait for the spring weather to warm up, we are reminded of the old adage that April showers bring May… wins. Ok, that may not be exactly how the saying goes but it does hold true for this year’s Toronto Blue Jays. Many fans may not have paid too much attention (thankfully) to the Jays atrocious win/loss record (8-17) of April as there were many distractions provided by the playoff bound Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors.
With both of these teams now golfing, focus on the Jays has once again returned to the forefront. The timing couldn’t have been any better as May has been a complete turn around. Toronto has already won nine games and we are only halfway through the month. As impressive as this turn of events has been, it is far more so when you figure out the group of players that are behind it.
After that terrible start, if there was going to be any kind of hope for this season, you would strongly believe that your best players had to be your best players. That is extremely difficult to accomplish however when Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, Aaron Sanchez, Francisco Liriano, J.A. Happ and a few others are on the disabled list. To put that into proper perspective, that is almost $84.6M in team salary on the DL compared to $77M that is currently on the active roster. Yes, you did read that correctly, we have more money tied into players who can’t play compared to those who can. If you really want to analyze it further, you can add another $17.7M for players that Blue Jays management have let go (Melvin Upton and Jarrod Saltalamacchia) but still pay their salaries. So when you stare at the box score and see another Blue Jays win, you’ll need to pay closer attention as to who made it happen.
— SML (@SMLaurier) May 9, 2017
Kevin Pillar for example is still superman in the outfield and provided another breathtaking flying catch shown above. We all know he can fly, what we didn’t expect though was that his bat this year would be faster than a speeding bullet. These may not be superhero type stats but batting .314 with 5 home runs and 6 stolen bases is productivity we did not expect, but hoped for and desperately needed. Ezequiel Carrera is also playing well and leads the team by batting .327. Of course, that’s only if you exclude Marcus Stroman’s 1.000 batting average after he hit a double in his only at bat this year. In terms of power, Jose Bautista has struggled at the plate but has made some excellent defensive plays. Kendrys Morales meanwhile has been steady and playing just as advertised.
Now one Blue Jay that was ridiculed quite a lot in the past year, has been redeeming himself on a daily basis. Therefore if you are feeling apologetic, you may want to give some love to everyone’s favourite punching bag, Justin Smoak. Why, you may ask? He is not only leading the team in RBIs this year but he is outproducing you know who so far this season.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) May 15, 2017
That is correct, he is outperforming Edwin Encarnacion and doing so for a fraction of what Double E is making.
At the end of the season though, none of these individual stats will mean anything if they don’t continue to win. This mini slump against the Atlanta Braves, another poor team, has to come to an end and they need to get back to winning games. As pleasant as it has been to see some of these other players get the credit, for the the Blue Jays to be in playoff contention, it will be up to the Donaldson’s, the Tulowitzki’s and the Martin’s to consistently perform at a high level for them to have a chance. It is still a longshot, but the future does look brighter today, than it did just three weeks ago.
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