Well here we are after ten games and I’m already writing a review of the Jays season to date. Seems a bit strange to do so, as it’s hard to make any sort of judgment call after such a small number of games – last year I didn’t write a post on how the season was going until 50 games in. Then again last year the Jays didn’t start out 1-9 like they have this year in their first ten games, so it begs the question should us fans be concerned?
Certainly as you can see from the Twitter poll we ran recently, some of our readers are concerned. Of the 48 Jays fans that took our poll, just under half have said they are getting a bit worried, and a third say they are panicking. Only 21% say they’re not worried (see below).
— @BlueJaysBlog (@BlueJays_Blog) April 14, 2017
There are other commentators also expressing concern, as you can see from a few links below:
— Jeff Simmons (@realjeffsimmons) April 14, 2017
The Blue Jays have an upcoming quandary, writes Dave Cameron. https://t.co/0MsthcNAsx
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) April 14, 2017
Essentially what we are looking at right now is a slump that happens to come at the beginning of the season. Slumps happen every single season for every team – that’s what happens in a 162 game schedule, it’s a long season. When a slump, granted a horrible slump, happens at the beginning of the season, it’s given much more prominence than it would be if it were to happen mid-season.
Is this to say that the Jays are already doomed out of the gate and that the playoffs are an impossibility? No, of course not. Likewise it does not mean that everything’s fine and will turn around shortly. It’s simply too early to know. Let’s look at what we know based on a very small number of games so far.
The very real concern about this team that was expressed before the beginning of the year was offence. In 2015 the Jays led the AL in runs scored with a total of 891, far ahead of the league average of 710 and almost one run per game ahead of the next highest scoring team, the Yankees at 764. While this dominance disappeared in 2016 – the Jays went to fifth place with a total of 759 runs, behind the Red Sox who scored 878 – the Jays remained competitive due to their strong pitching staff, with a league leading team ERA of 3.78. While the Jays 2016 team ERA was virtually unchanged from 2015 (3.80), the league average ERA had jumped from 4.01 in 2015 to 4.20 in 2016.
Three key questions coming into 2017 then were: to what extent would Morales replace Encarnacion’s lost run production, whether Bautista would return healthy and return to where he left off in 2015 and if the Jays pitching would be consistent with the past two years. The answers to these questions remain unknown, although with the exception of two forgettable performances the pitching staff has done quite well so far. Unfortunately with Josh Donaldson’s recent injury another question has been added – whether he will stay health enough to produce 35-40 HRs and 90-100 RBIs.
A nice surprise appears to be that Bautista’s defensive prowess appears to have returned- based on some nice catches and a couple of assists early in the season. If you haven’t seen any of his plays so far there are a couple of great examples below.
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 13, 2017
Our rating: 👍👍👍👍👍@Statcast rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
— Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 4, 2017
It is warranted to be concerned at this point, but as Mike Wilner pointed out on Twitter the 1993 Blue Jays had a 1-10 stretch (it was just before the All Star break for those of you who are curious) and we all know how that season ended up.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) April 13, 2017
At the end of the day there’s only one stat you need to know -14, the difference between the number of how many runs the Jays have scored to date, and how many they have let up. Through ten games the Jays have cumulatively let up 42 runs, however, they’ve only scored 28 runs overall. The Jays cannot hope to win while they’re outscored an average 4.2 to 2.8 runs per game. The offence has to get scoring again, an average run deficit of 1.4 per game is not going to give any team an above .500 record, let alone one that will put them in contention.