Brewers 5, Blue Jays 2: Blue Jays by the Numbers, Part I

Monday, June 20 2005 @ 08:03 AM EDT

Contributed by: Thomas

As I am writing two game reports in a row, I decided it was time to examine the Blue Jays through the numbers. The Jays have played 69 games so far this season, so I’ll find something to connect to the team having to do with the numbers from 1 through 69.

As cool as it would be to do every number (which is what I originally intended to do), this proved to be too time-consuming, especially considering my ongoing adventures with a clogged toilet, and also seemed very forced in certain places. Therefore, I will only do 15 numbers for each day (half of the numbers in each segment), which hopefully will still provide plenty of numbers to think about; although I certainly don’t promise they will all be relevant.

Today I will look at fifteen numbers from 1 through 34 and tomorrow will examine another fifteen from 35 through 69. The totals come from prior to Sunday’s game, unless otherwise noted.

1 – Times Andy Dominique has reached base this season for the Blue Jays this season. Dominique spent 15 days on the MLB roster following Gregg Zaun’s horrific collision at second base on Mother’s Day against the Chicago White Sox. He only started one game in this span and also made a pinch-hitting appearance. Dominique started the May 18th game against Minnesota and was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning by starter Kyle Lohse.

2 – Appearances for Matt Whiteside in the majors this year. Whiteside accumulated a 19.64 ERA in 3.2 innings, making appearances against the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees. Whiteside’s appearances weren’t completely forgettable, as he struck out A-Rod and Jason Giambi on April 20 against the Yankees and he struck out Paul Konerko, Aaron Rowand and Jermaine Dye in a row when he came in to face the White Sox.

3 – Doubles by John McDonald, which constitutes his entire total of extra-base hits this season. The gifted gloveman has a .324 slugging percentage, which is the lowest total of any non-Huckaby player who has served any real time on Toronto’s roster this year. Despite this fact, McDonald’s OPS is slightly higher than O-Dog’s.

4 – Place the Jays currently are in the American League East standings. While this fact may not be that surprising to many, the fact Toronto is only 2.5 back of the Yankees and 4.5 back of Boston may be. Toronto sits 7.5 back of the division-leading Orioles, which is not an insurmountable total, especially at this point in the season. However, it also demonstrates how crucial this upcoming four-game series with Baltimore is.

5 – Shutouts thrown by the Blue Jays pitching staff this season. This mark is tied for third in baseball, with seven other teams. Atlanta and the Cubs have thrown six each, while KC and Tampa Bay have thrown none. Halladay has thrown shutouts on April 29th and May 29th, and combined for a shutout with Schoeneweis and Speier on May 21st. I hope he’s starting on June 29th. Chacin threw eight innings of shutout ball against Texas on April 16th, with Batista pitching an inning of relief and Towers threw eight innings of shutout ball on May 3rd against Baltimore, with Batista pitching the final inning again.

6 – Stolen bases by Eric Hinske and Alex Rios, which leads the Blue Jays. Rios has been caught five times, compared to Hinske’s one. Hinske’s obviously not as fast as Rios is once he gets going around the bases and it’s quite likely that O-Dog, Johnson and Wells are at least as fast as Hinske. However, I don’t think there’s a better base runner on the Jays than Hinske. He picks his opportunities to run incredibly well, such as those consecutive steals against the Yankees, and according to Michael Kay his tag against Bernie Williams “exposed” Bernie’s weak arm, which had previously been undetected by everyone in the Yankees front office. Hinske’s very good at going first to third and I can’t recall him being thrown out on the bases anytime recently.

10 – Extra-base hits by Aaron Hill in 94 at-bats, which means he is averaging one every 8.9 at bats. This percentage leads the team, as far as I can tell, with Russ Adams second with an extra-base hit every 9.35 at-bats.

11 – Rank in the majors Toronto sits in caught-stealing percentage for catchers. Zaun, Huckaby, Myers and Dominique have thrown out 37% of attempted base stealers (22 of 60). Hats off to the catchers for St. Louis, led by Yadier Molina, who have thrown out 54% and to Joe Mauer and company, who have thrown out 47% for the Twins. The A’s are 19th in baseball at 13% (8 of 62) and the Mets sit just behind them at 12% (7 of 58). Surprisingly, teams do not run the most on these two teams, as runners have attempted to steal 70 bases against the Indians, for example. However, St. Louis has the least attempts against in the majors, at only 35.

14 – Percent of batted balls (actually 14.1) Vernon Wells hits line drives on. Not only is that the lowest percentage on the team of regular position players, it only exceeds Gabe Gross' .125 and Ken Huckaby's .026 of players on the current roster. Eyeballing the AL, the only regulars with lower percentages are Richard Hidalgo, Nick Swisher, A-Rod, Torii Hunter, Matt Stairs, Eli Marrero, Omar Infante, Casey Blake and Sammy Sosa. Surprisingly, there are some pretty good players on that list, along with some pretty bad ones. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of batted ball types would be able to explain this a bit better.

17 – Toronto’s rank in baseball by team stolen bases. Toronto has stolen 32 bases, which ties them for 17th in the majors with the Indians. The 32 by the Blue Jays sits well behind Chicago’s 70 or Tampa Bay’s 65, but well ahead of Boston’s 13 or Oakland’s 14. Toronto’s 70% success rate places them about mid-table, as well, behind Boston’s outstanding 93% success rate. I have no idea what the record low for team caught stealing is in a season, but only 1 through the middle of June looks like it would have a good shot at breaking it.

20 – Triples by the Blue Jays this season. This places them tied for second in baseball, tied with Pittsburgh and five behind Detroit. Toronto is led by Rios’ 5, Hill’s 3 and Johnson’s 3, but is receiving contributions from everyone, including the unlikely source of Gregg Zaun. Zaun’s triple came on May 29th off J.C. Romero. Interestingly, Rios is out-tripling both the Brewers and the Yankees, and is tied with the Reds and the White Sox.

22 – VORP (Value Above Replacement Player) for the Texas Rangers’ Chris Young this season (actually, 22.3). By this measure Young, who had to be dissuaded out of quitting baseball and attempting to begin a professional basketball career by a $1.5 million contract while he was still in the minor leagues, is the best rookie pitcher in baseball, narrowly ahead of Gustavo Chacin’s VORP of 20.2 Chacin has accumulated his in one more start than Young, but there is little doubt these two have been by far the best two rookie starters in baseball. Kyle Davis is a better prospect than either of the two, but he is the next best rookie starter and has a VORP of 8.1 in 6 starts. Interestingly, the best five rookie pitchers in baseball by this stat are in the AL, as Chacin is followed by Jesse Crain, Huston Street and Andy Sisco.

23 – Rank in baseball Toronto places in team OPS. Toronto has a team OPS of .730, which ties them with the Nationals for 23rd in baseball. Toronto sits ahead of Cleveland, Kansas City, Anaheim, Seattle, Houston and Oakland. Baltimore leads the majors at .827, followed by Texas at .818 and Boston at .808.

28 – Hits surrendered by Pete Walker. Walker has established himself as one of the best relief options in the Toronto pen this season, and is someone we may soon see in the starting rotation. Despite relatively unimpressive strikeout and walk totals (18 K’s and 13 walks in 36 innings), Walker has not surrendered many home runs (only 2 all year) and has thrown the ball well in all but a couple appearances. As strange as this would have sounded in April, when I see Walker come in from the bullpen, I am more confident than I am with most of the other relief arms. Walker’s .217 batting average against won’t last forever, but he is having a career year at 36 and his year in Yokohama seems all but a distant memory.

34 – Wins the Blue Jays have to date. They currently sit one game below .500, which is about the level of play that was predicted of them by many on the Box prior to the season beginning. According to Baseball Prospectus this gives the Jays about 6% odds to make the playoffs, something that I think sounds about fairly reasonable. It won’t be easy to leapfrog three times and gain six and a half games, but by no means is it impossible. Prior to Sunday’s game the Jays had an expected won-loss record of 36-32, which would place them only 3.5 games back of Baltimore’s Pythagorean record, so things certainly aren’t without hope at this point in the season.