The Blue Jays’ Film Did Not Have a Storybook Ending

Blue Jays’ 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.; Picture by way of Jeffrey Hayes

In March of this 12 months, Blue Jays’ star 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr stated, “Final 12 months was the trailer. Now you guys are going to see the film.” The expectations have been very excessive for this Blue Jays workforce coming into the 12 months. We are actually sitting right here in October after the Jays performed simply 2 playoff video games and misplaced them each to the underdog Seattle Mariners. That’s not precisely how most individuals anticipated the “film” to complete, so what went unsuitable?

The 2021 Toronto Blue Jays have been a shock, for certain. They gained 91 video games, lacking the playoffs by only one sport. That 2021 season was the start of a brand new period for the Blue Jays; after back-to-back ALCS appearances in 2015 and 2016, they went right into a rebuild. Toronto missed the playoffs yearly from 2017 to 2019 and by no means completed with greater than 76 wins. Nevertheless, we noticed a glimpse of success within the Covid-shortened 2020 season, because the Jays went 32-28 and made the expanded playoffs earlier than dropping within the first spherical. Heading into 2021, it was unsure how the younger Jays would carry out. They ended up balling out. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had his popping out occasion, posting an OPS over 1.000. If it was not for Shohei Ohtani, Vladdy would have gained MVP. Toronto additionally noticed the emergence of a killer center infield of Marcus Semien and the teenager Bo Bichette, as each posted an OPS+ over 120. That Jays’ lineup was deep, with some contributions from Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez, Santiago Espinal, Danny Jansen, and Alejandro Kirk. All of these guys have been below the age of 28, and that is with out mentioning George Springer, who missed many of the 2021 season attributable to an harm. Toronto additionally had a dominant beginning pitching workers that featured 2021 Cy Younger winner Robbie Ray and different stable arms Hyun Jin-Ryu, Steven Matz, and Ross Stripling. Alek Manoah additionally confirmed glimpses of stardom, and so they added potential ace Jose Berrios on the deadline. Each have been seen as an enormous a part of the long run. After 2021, the Jays had a bunch of younger studs able to play for a title. However how did they enhance within the offseason?

The Blue Jays did a variety of roster shuffling within the 2021-2022 offseason. They misplaced core items Robbie Ray, Marcus Semien, and Steven Matz. Nevertheless, Toronto was capable of exchange them with Kevin Gausman, Matt Chapman, and Yusei Kikuchi. With Chapman taking part in 3B, they moved Santiago Espinal to 2B and have been seen to have a near-complete workforce with exceptions that have been by means of the roof.

The Jays opened up the season with a 14-8 April, which positioned them only one.5 video games behind the Yankees and firmly within the AL East race. Nevertheless, that 6-games-above-.500 stretch could be the very best Toronto would do in a month till September. From Might-August the Jays have been 56-51, placing them at 8 video games out of the division heading into September. The issue was Toronto by no means received scorching. Whereas a 13-14 August was their solely month beneath .500 on the season, their finest month after April was solely 14-12 in each Might and June. The Jays weren’t a nasty workforce however by no means have been capable of catch fireplace and rival the Yankees for the division title. That’s, till September, once they seemingly lastly discovered their stride. The Jays put collectively an 18-10 file in September and have been anticipated to realize playoff success from that scorching streak.

Toronto completed the 12 months with a 92-70 file and the primary Wild Card spot within the AL. With the brand new playoff format, the Jays got a best-of-3 sequence at dwelling towards the Mariners, and lots of people penned the Jays as a darkish horse workforce to make a deep postseason run. As everybody is aware of now, that didn’t work out as deliberate, as Toronto misplaced back-to-back video games and received swept out of the playoffs at dwelling. Diving into the numbers reveals why the film was a field workplace failure.

Blue Jays’ 2022 Crew Offensive Stats:

Blue Jays’ 2022 Crew Pitching Stats:

There are some very simple conclusions to be drawn from this. First, the Blue Jays’ offense was superb throughout the board this 12 months, as they received on base and have been capable of slug. Subsequent is that the Jays’ pitching workers/bullpen was common at finest. They have been capable of keep away from shelling out walks and struck out a variety of betters. Nevertheless, they received damage badly by the deep ball, and their batting common on balls in play (BABIP) was one of many highest within the league, which means luck was almost definitely not on their facet. Having a excessive BABIP will also be a results of an underwhelming protection…

Blue Jays’ 2022 Crew Defensive Stats:

The Blue Jays have been beneath common defensively this 12 months, which may have been why the pitching was underwhelming in some classes. Being dangerous within the vary stats was almost definitely the rationale for the excessive BABIP, as extra balls have been dropping in as hits attributable to Toronto’s defenders not masking a variety of floor. Even within the defensive metrics they carried out higher in, the Jays nonetheless have been method beneath the highest of the AL. In OAA, they have been 15 behind the Guardians and Yankees and 26 behind the Astros. The protection appeared to be an enormous purpose that stored them behind the highest of the AL.

This Jays workforce additionally had many disappointing gamers that didn’t produce nicely for them. First off are Jose Berrios and Yusei Kikuchi, who each had ERAs over 5 regardless of getting huge cash this offseason. These two have been anticipated to be integral elements of the rotation, and their poor efficiency led to an actual lack of beginning pitching depth. Heading as much as the lineup, we noticed Vlad have just a little little bit of a down 12 months for his requirements. He nonetheless had an OPS+ of 132, however coming off his 2021 mark of 167, it was nonetheless a tad disappointing. It additionally took Matt Chapman and Bo Bichette many of the season earlier than they caught fireplace, which was additionally upsetting.

Nonetheless, even with this disappointment, it was anticipated for the Jays to make considerably of a run within the playoffs. Clearly, that didn’t occur. However why? In sport 1, they bumped into Luis Castillo, who tossed an incredible 7.1 innings of shutout ball. Castillo was capable of outduel Jays’ ace Alek Manoah. Toronto’s dependable workhorse struggled, giving up 4 runs, together with 3 within the first inning, over 5.2 innings. Regardless of that loss, there was nonetheless perception that the Jays may win the sequence, as Kevin Gausman was able to go on the bump. After racing out to an 8-1 lead after 4 innings, Gausman began to get hit, and the Mariners began clawing again. All of it culminated in a J.P. Crawford pop fly that scored three runs attributable to George Springer and Bo Bichette colliding within the outfield, as soon as once more displaying Toronto’s defensive woes. The Mariners didn’t look again after that, successful 10-9 and sending the Blue Jays to their couches for the offseason.

This film didn’t pan out as anticipated, however I really feel it won’t be the final installment on this sequence. The Jays are nonetheless extraordinarily younger and have a variety of expertise on the roster. If a few guys step up and another guys catch fireplace rapidly, then this workforce can lastly get that ending they’ve been working for.


Sahlen Discipline – Toronto Blue Jays” by way of Jeffrey Hayes licensed below CC BY 2.0

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