Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
It's like I'm falling out of bed
from a long and vivid dream
The sweetest flowered fruits are
hanging from a tree

A well timed hot streak has been the separator for the Blue Jays, placing them in prime position for a wild card berth while previous company Oakland and Seattle lag behind. Things can always change quickly, for good or for evil, so Toronto will have to continue playing good baseball no matter what happens on the out-of-town scoreboard.

Hey, it's September, and they're right in the playoff race. No one promised it would be easy. The only certainties this time of year are stress, emotional roller coasters, highest of highs against lowest of lows, blind confidence against irrational bleakness. It's a playoff race, lets buckle in my friends. What an absurd year it has been.

My usual random thoughts:

Top of the Eighth

Good Vibrations

After watching this team for the past five months, and again please stop me if this sounds completely crazy... but I'm starting to think maybe this team seems to have a lot of fun out there? Insanity I know.

This season, as noted fifty words ago, has been a total emotional roller coaster and the sheer joy this team plays with (when things are going well) has definitely been an infectious peak of that ride. Whether it be the home run jacket, Vlad Jr. simply unable to sit still in the dugout, Teoscar Hernandez's night-illuminating smile... I'm absolutely certain those heartbreaking losses wouldn't have hurt as bad if this team just wasn't so darned likeable.

Every team in any season, even terrible ones, will have occasional dugout shenanigans. The 2021 Blue Jays though must truly be in the highest percentile of such things, as it seems nearly every game there's something silly and fun going on with these guys. I mean, Vlad Jr. getting tied up with tape by his teammates still has to be one of the funnier moments of the season (later that game was when he was with Luis Rivera and telling the infield where to shift). If I'm forgetting any other fun moments please chime in.

My Sweet Lourdes

A running storyline for much of this season, often simmering in the background, has been: "When is Gurriel Jr. finally gonna heat up?". Aside from a truly dreadful start (.572 OPS when April ended) Gurriel Jr. had been fairly okay until his recent inferno upon the league. What interests me is how before this hot streak, he hadn't exactly been an unplayable bat. I mean, an 85 OPS+ left-fielder with extremely erratic defense... you probably want to do better than that... but his lack of production never felt like it was hurting the team all that much. Perhaps his .326/.373/.518 line in 218 PA with runners on base helps explain that notion. By comparison, Randal Grichuk's .247/.290/.461 line in 238 PA with men on seems positive rally poison, with 15 double plays hit into against Gurriel's 7.

What is also curious (to me anyway) is how Gurriel Jr. has now far surpassed his career high in games played (even including minor league games, such as 2019 when he was banished to AAA for a month) and it seems right around cracking that barrier is when his bat became literal lightning. You just can't predict these things, and this guy seems about as unpredictable as they come. He's capable of being the hottest hitter on planet Earth for considerable stretches of time, and then quickly looking like he hasn't a clue where a pitch is coming from. Not a guy you want to have to rely on, but clearly a player you don't give up on since he's electric enough to carry a team once in a while.

Catch Me If You Can

How many times have the Blue Jays ever had three serviceable major league catchers? (I'm suspect Magpie knows this one). Well, considering how many of the greatest Jays catchers over the years have came from other organizations... has the team ever had two homegrown catchers as good as Jansen and Kirk at the same time?

With Jansen back and miraculously scorching the ball, the Blue Jays have an interesting catching situation. Reese McGuire (though I consider him semi-overrated back there) has the best throwing arm of the trio, Alejandro Kirk the best bat (and seemingly somewhat underrated back there... I mean he's a far better receiver than Gary Sanchez for instance) and Danny Jansen (if actually a 90-105 OPS+ guy) the middle ground between the two, and a fine defender himself. Who catches who? Who made who?

I'm just going to conclude that it's a good problem to have, though maybe Danny Jansen could learn third base? Ahhhhh? Okay yes... I've completely lost my mind.

Above The Mark

Just a small note that with Wednesday's 82nd win of the season, this will be Toronto's first winning (162 game) season since 2016. In that same span, the Baltimore Orioles (defeated in the 2016 Wild Card game of course) have not achieved a winning record in any season, and soon will lose over 100 games for the 3rd time in 4 years. Some credit for an effective, speedy rebuild is in order. Blowing it up doesn't always work this well.

Bottom of the Eighth

The Race

I mean, if the Blue Jays keep winning 13 of 15 down the stretch... we don't really have much to worry about in regards to making the playoffs. To steal a thought from the Spin Rate podcast, another such run isn't impossible, merely improbable.

To estimate, I'd say going 11-5 in these final sixteen games should be enough for one of the Wild Card spots. Thing is, as flawed as they are respectably, the Yankees and the Red Sox will not go gently into that good night. Say Toronto splits them, 8-8, that's still 90 wins but you'd need one of Boston or New York to likewise have a losing record during that same stretch... entirely possible but not something dependable. Consider also the Yankees are in a soft part of their schedule (Orioles, Cleveland and Texas) before a pair of huge series on the road in Boston and then Toronto, six games which likely will decide their season. As for the Red Sox they don't play a team above .500 (unless the Mets get hot) the rest of the season aside from that Yankees series. Hey, nobody said it would be easy.

Twisted Springs

It's obvious to anybody watching, from the broadcast booth or viewers at home, all the way from the catcher behind the plate to the most distant observer in the outfield 500 level... George Springer is playing on one functioning leg. He's still finding his way around the bases (like his daring advance from 1st to 3rd on a wild pitch walk just yesterday) but some of these swings he takes in the box approach Kirk Gibson 1988 World Series level. You have to wonder how sustainable this is, whether a couple consistent days off these final weeks can keep him in the lineup and semi-productive (as he's been) or a bad moment is inevitable either on a bad swing or a bad turn around a base that knocks him out for good.

I certainly hope not. Even in this compromised form Springer is still dangerous enough at the plate to worry opposing pitchers, stretch the lineup further and get on base for the sluggers behind him. Plus as we saw Wednesday, his baserunning is still aggressively excellent.

Around The League

The divisional races across MLB are mostly decided, with only the NL West battle between the Dodgers and Giants even being within 4 games of one another. To paraphrase Charlie Kelly from It's Always Sunny... cut the brakes! It's wildcard season!

To be honest, the race for the NL Wildcard is currently a competition of who can lose the least. Both the Padres and the Reds (damnit boys) have played enough middling ball to let the Cardinals sneak into the playoff picture, which is exactly what I said I didn't want to happen last time I wrote one of these! San Diego is loaded with young electric players, Cincinnati has Joey freaking Votto... the Cardinals are boring and nobody wants an 84 win St Louis team somehow taking down the Dodgers in a one game playoff. That narrative is worn and tiring...

Anyhow, I thought it might be fun/interesting at this late point of the season to look upon my own preseason predictions, just to pick out an example where I was right! And many more examples where I was so glaringly wrong...

The Giants of the Bay

I picked San Francisco to win 77 games in 2021. Seeing as they already have 95 victories on the year, have had the best record in baseball for the majority of the season and seem rather poised for a long playoff run... yeah I may have underestimated this one.

Two things happened here, one which I mentioned in March crucial for them to have a chance: their legion of veteran hitters having bounce back seasons in their early-mid 30s. And that's what happened: Buster Posey is back to being in the MVP conversation (if he'd played 130 games instead of 100 there's an argument), Evan Longoria has been brilliant when healthy, 34 year old shortstop Brandon Crawford has never hit this well in his life... Brandon Belt, like Posey, has been dynamite when in the lineup. Plus a rotating cast of very effective spare pieces like Darin Ruf, Wilmer Flores, LaMonte Wade Jr, you can even fit Kris Bryant into that category... their depth has been an enormous strength.

Pitching wise, they've gotten the absolute best of Kevin Gausman (who may well finish top 3 in NL Cy Young voting), Anthony DeScalfani, Johnny Cueto has survived the graveyard, young arm Logan Webb has been Alek Manoah just with 30 more innings... everything has gone right for this team in 2021. In terms of talent, I'd say the Dodgers and Padres are superior... but I wouldn't ever bet against momentum, and I'll never wager against sheer happy fortune.

Like A Rock

I picked the Colorado Rockies to win 64 games. They're at 67-78 so they beat me on that front, but in terms of being interesting I think my indifference is still correct.

No Dessert In The Desert

Thinking the Arizona Diamondbacks would finish only four games back (73 wins versus 77) of the Giants... probably my most grotesque preseason error. The NL West is all or nothing: three extremely interesting teams, two also rans with not even a star player to keep track of.

Brew Crew Chew

The Cubs sure ain't gonna win 91 games this year (or anytime in the next few years) but the Milwaukee Brewers sure will. Picking them to go 80-82... also a bad prediction on my part. Despite underwhelming years from Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, and a "maybe a pitcher should pinch hit for this guy" season from free agent addition Jackie Bradley Jr... the Brewers will easily win the NL Central and there are two reasons why.

First: Willy Adames. Since getting him about a third way through the season, Adames has been Milwaukee's best position player and it isn't close. I hate on the Rays often and willingly, but this sure seems like an example of a very mutually beneficial trade considering what Tampa has done with Rasmussen (and clearing a spot for Wander Franco).

Second: well they have three starting pitchers (Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta) who would likely be Game One starters for almost any other MLB team. None of them allow hits or are homer prone, they all strike out everybody (10+ per 9) and aside from Peralta (3.7 per 9) they don't surrender free passes either. I'm not bullish on their playoff chances only because I can't imagine them scoring runs against elite pitching, but those three aces plus that bullpen (also elite)... they should be in some close games you would think.

The NL East

I feel pretty good about this one. The Nationals gave up and sold some pieces, making my 80-82 prediction rather unlikely, but beyond that I think it'll play out like I said: Braves, then Mets, then Phillies. The Mets clearly are Mets-ing their way into that irrelevant second place finish, while the Phillies stars and scrubs approach will be sunk again by a lack of pitching depth. Somewhat of a shame considering the season Bryce Harper is having. Strange to think the dialogue of the game has somewhat overlooked a 28 year old player with 264 home runs and a 142 career OPS+. Harper hasn't even been an all-star as a Phillie. There are just a lot of young, exciting stars in the game right now overshadowing the electric Bryce. Heck, his replacement in Washington (Juan Soto) has already far surpassed him in perception thanks to the 2019 Nationals championship.

The AL West

Picking the Angels to win 93 games, while picking Seattle to win 74... well don't blame the process of my logic at least.

The Angels are a bad team yet again, despite employing perhaps the two absolute greatest baseball players who walk the planet. One has been hurt and unavailable the majority of the year, and the other will likely win the American League MVP. There's no guarantee Shohei Ohtani can do this every year, this truly is one of the most unique and damn impressive seasons in the history of baseball. He deserves it, and lets enjoy it while he does it.

Twin Killing

The Minnesota Twins rank 14th of 15 in runs surrendered among American League teams. That's pretty much where it all went wrong for the 2021 Twins, a team I chose to win 90 games and instead might not crack 70. Strange to think, with their stellar young pitching staff, how Cleveland's future quickly looks more promising in the near and long term.

Also, it's a terrible division that likely will only have one team over .500 out of five... and a vulnerable team at that. Frankly even I, a sucker towards attention to detail, can scrape little else to say about this sad pennant race that wrapped up in early May. Hardest "meh" possible.

I'm pretty much done on this off day... beyond one last question for all the readers out there. I'm just curious what it is we enjoy when we watch these players play for our favourite team, and what about them really stands out? Whether it be Robbie Ray putting every ounce of strength he possesses for that next fastball inside (and grunting loud enough to hear from the Toronto Islands), Vladdy rearing back and swinging his bat like Simon Belmont unleashes his whip in Castlevania, Hyun-Jin Ryu constantly inventing new speeds and new pitches while being three pitches ahead of any batter... Bo Bichette trusting his hands and flaring balls to right field... Alejandro Kirk consistently checking his swing like a ten year veteran... there is so much to enjoy when watching this team, just little fun bits witnessing this semi-misfit crew be so cohesive.

Please do chime in with your own aesthetic joys watching this team. Me personally, I love a Vlad Jr. at bat, a sharp Ryu, Alek Manoah's unshakeable attitude especially when he locates his slider and, maybe best of all... Admiral Kirk and his short swing up there spitting on good pitches many other more experienced batters chase. Have at it and enjoy the off day.

Off Day Blues Vol. 8 | 45 comments | Create New Account
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John Northey - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 09:34 AM EDT (#407091) #
In previous playoff years where were the Jays on September 16?
  • 1985: 1st 4 1/2 up in AL East over Yankees
  • 1989: 1st 1 1/2 up in AL East over Orioles
  • 1991: 1st 3 1/2 up in AL East over Boston
  • 1992: 1st 4 up in AL East over Orioles
  • 1993: 1st 2 1/2 up in AL East over Yankees
  • 2015: 1st 3 up in AL East over Yankees
  • 2016: 3rd, 2 back in AL East behind Boston, tied with Baltimore for the 2 wild cards, up 2 on all other wild card contenders
  • 2020: 3rd 4 1/2 back in AL East behind Tamp, 1/2 a game behind NY for the 'top 2' playoff slot, #1 in race for 2 wild cards, 1/2 a game ahead of Cleveland, 2 1/2 ahead of Houston for the final Wild Card.
So this year's 2021: in a 3 way tie for the 2 wild card slots

What are the tie breaking rules?  If 2 teams tied for the 2 wild cards, then home field is decided by 1) head to head (vs Boston 9-10, so if tied game in Boston; vs NYY 10-6 so even if swept in final 3 vs them the game would be in Toronto; 5-2 vs Oakland, 2-4 vs Seattle).  No need to go further for a 2 team tie situation.  If there is a team winning the #1 WC, and 2 for the 2nd, then head to head decides where it is played (in Toronto if vs NYY or Oakland, on road if tied with Boston or Seattle).  What about a 3 or more team tie?  It would be A/B/C by tie breakers, A/B play and winner gets top slot, loser plays C for bottom slot.  Boston vs NY is 10-6 for Boston (so no matter what Boston has won that tie breaker) so I suspect the match-up would be Jays vs Boston in Boston, Yankees play the loser at the losers park. 

Bottom line: lets hope the Jays stay hot and win the #1 WC outright, while 2 teams or more tie for the 2nd WC.
Magpie - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 10:10 AM EDT (#407092) #
your own aesthetic joys watching this team.

First and foremost, the enormous amount of fun they seem to have at the ball park. It is, for the most part, a very young team - and Springer, who's one of the older guys, still has a whole lot of little kid in his game. Marcus Semien is everyone's wise and tolerant dad....

And the usual little things. The endless variety of weird hops or staggers that come at the end of Adam Cimber delivering a pitch. Bo Bichette's wild, flailing swing - there's no way a guy who does that all the time could possibly be a major league hitter, is there? Robbie Ray twisting away from the hitter, loading up another heater. Hyun-Jin Ryu's utterly placid countenance. Teoscar Hernandez's gorgeous swing (because he's right-handed, it helps to look in a mirror. I don't know why, but the prettiest swings always reveal themselves from that side of the plate and Teo's got one of them.) Lourdes Gurriel's hair, which may be an as yet unclassified life form. Tim Mayza doffing his cap to be inspected by the umpire, at which point one realizes that this poor young man suffers from early onset Male Pattern baldness. Robbie Ray grunting. Jordan Romano wiggling his butt. Alek Manoah standing next to a normal sized human being. Captain Kirk's smooth and elegant stroke, with a bat that seems as long as he is. Lordes Gurriel throwing the baseball from deep in the corner. Mirror universe Randal Grichuk losing the facial hair and once more joing the forces of good and righteousness. Robbie Ray's trousers.

But mostly, the sound the ball makes when Guerrero hits it.
Leaside Cowboy - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 10:47 AM EDT (#407093) #
Best moment was Vladdy tied to the bench and George Springer flaunting his captivity with a cheeky wiggle-shimmy.
Magpie - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 11:20 AM EDT (#407095) #
It is, for the most part, a very young team

And almost no one in the dugout went to university. They pretty much all became professional baseball players straight out of high school - everyone except Semien and Springer, and the two older guys brought in from other teams in mid-season (Dickerson and Lamb). The starting pitchers also hang out in the dugout, but the only university man there (Manoah) is one of the youngest guys on the team.

The university men are all down in the bullpen: Romano, Mayza, Cimber, Richards, Stripling, Pearson, Merrweather, Thornton, Saucedo. And on the IL (Biggio and Espinal.)
bpoz - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 11:42 AM EDT (#407097) #
Thanks Eephus.

I like your writeup on SF. The vet position players had to do well.

This was our hoped for 2018. nNewly acquired Grichuk, A Diaz and Y Solarte did accomplished their hoped for production. Morales and Pillar also did what we basically hoped for. Smoak had a great year and Teoscar broke on offense. So lots of good stuff came from our depth.

The bad was D Travis having injuries. Donaldson, Tulo and Martin finally ran out of gas.

Pitching was mediocre at best. Our position in the standing dictated that we basically tear down the team. I am sure if we were competing like SF then Atkins would have made moves to strengthen the team at the trade deadline.
ISLAND BOY - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#407098) #
" you own aesthetic joys watching this team. "

I'll echo Magpie, they have a lot of fun playing the game. Not only that, but they are a really close bunch. Everybody seems to get along with each other really well and I thought Pat Tabler made a good point on one broadcast where he mentioned that no one leaves for the clubhouse to get an early shower or hit the postgame buffet.

A couple of funny moments were Vlad imitating Romano's deep knee bends during a game. Also Vlad and Semien copying Cimber jumping up and down before he started pitching.

To me, though, Vlad is the poster child for this Jay's team. His seemingly ever-present smile, greeting the umpire and opposing catcher when he first comes to bat, chatting with players at first base, holding up a sign with Trey Mancini's name on it during the Stand Up to Cancer moment at the All-Star game - are typical of Vlad's personality. We ripped him pretty hard last season with his weight gain but, to his credit, he worked hard during the off season and transformed into a superstar. We sometimes forget how young he is - a few more home runs and he'll have the most ever by someone aged 22 or younger, passing Joe Dimaggio and Eddie Matthews! He's turned into a pretty good first baseman, as well.

Also echoing Magpie's point, Alek Manoah is huge. He stood by Kirk the last time he pitched and it looked like an adult and a child !
budgell - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 12:19 PM EDT (#407099) #
Magpie rarely has an off day but this is "gold baby, gold"!
I've often wondered why great left handed hitters' swings look so much prettier than great rightys'. Is it just the centre field camera angle coming from left centre?
scottt - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 12:55 PM EDT (#407100) #
To me the best Vlad moments is when he's synchronized with Romano or Cimber warming up or with Bo or Semien jumping to catch a line drive.
scottt - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#407101) #
Gurriel's trouble's reminds me of Devon Travis.
The solution, in both cases, was to move away from the plate.

scottt - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 01:03 PM EDT (#407102) #
Obviously, they'll talk with other teams about their three catchers and see if one can be traded for something valuable.
If not, they could start the year with 3 catchers as they will have to field 13 position players anyway.
Meanwhile, their best catcher will be in AAA knocking on the door.

scottt - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 01:14 PM EDT (#407103) #
The leg situation makes me wonder about Springer having to move to a corner sooner rather than later.
There are no obvious CF candidate in the system and I don't think they can go and sign another free agent to play the position. Pretty risky business

bpoz - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 01:51 PM EDT (#407104) #
With Kirk at C and a good 3B we have a lineup with no holes in the offense.

Unfortunately Kirk cannot play everyday but can PH & DH. I will guess Espinal/Lopez/Smith competing for 3B. Days off and injuries will cause holes in the lineup. Also slumps. I like Biggio back at 2B. His smart play, good OBP and excellent SB/CS should contribute a lot IMO.

Expecting Vlad, Teoscar and if resigned Semien & Ray to all repeat their excellent 2021 seasons is asking a lot. I have doubts about Ray and Semien being resigned and also about them repeating their excellence in 2022.

3 C's will be a luxury but may work. We probably get a J Davis defensive CF for protecting leads late in games. We have Mallex Smith in the system already. I do like Chavez Young.
uglyone - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 01:58 PM EDT (#407105) #
I'm in favour of the 3 catcher/DH platoon next year. Nice way for both Kirk and Moreno to get their feet wet behind the plate and a nice way to get our best bats in the lineup too.

Would be cool if we could get something of interest for mcGuire after his solid season, though. I don't see why teams wouldn't be very interested in him as a very good backup defensive catcher going forward.

scottt - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 02:04 PM EDT (#407106) #
The misdemeanor incident is what dropped McGuire's value to nothing.
Not sure if that's forgotten.

99BlueJaysWay - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#407107) #
Does anyone know why Pecota, the modelling tool used by Baseball Prospectus, is so down on the Blue Jaysí postseason chances relative to the other prognosticators?
Magpie - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 03:02 PM EDT (#407108) #
How many times have the Blue Jays ever had three serviceable major league catchers... has the team ever had two homegrown catchers as good as Jansen and Kirk at the same time?

The second question first: I think the only time would be 1990-91 when the team had Pat Borders and Greg Myers. But Jansen and Kirk have a pretty good chance to be quite a bit better, and in some respects they already are.

You probably remember my recent hunt through franchise history in search of occasions when the team needed a third catcher to play in a game. (Not very often!) There was always a third catcher on hand on those rare occasions, but the team has never really made a habit of carrying three of them. The "third" catcher was usually a September call-up, or someone getting a brief mid-season look.

Naturally, I can't let the occasion pass without once more citing the infamous occasion when Cito Gaston was forced to play infielder Tom Lawless behind the plate. Which was because he'd already used all four catchers on his active roster, during that strange period when the team was carrying more catchers than outfielders. Managing a Pat Gillick team used to present all kinds of interesting challenges.
Magpie - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 03:40 PM EDT (#407110) #
Would be cool if we could get something of interest for McGuire after his solid season, though.

I thought this was a really interesting question. What is the going price for a backup catcher?

As you have probably noticed, I am a very simple fellow and I took a very simple approach. I reviewed the other 29 major league rosters to see what they'd paid for their backup catchers.

It turned out to be easier than I expected to actually identify each team's backup. And here's what I discovered. The vast majority of teams acquired their backup catchers either by drafting the guy in the first place, or by signing him off the free agent pile. Only 8 of the 30 backups arrived via trade, and all but one of those was a fairly small part in a transaction that was filled with their Betters, part of the package in trades involving people like Verlander and Realmuto. Or lesser folk like Josh Harrison and Dee Gordon. With just one exception, none of them were part of a one-for-one deal.

The one exception? Wait for it... it's Riley Adams of the Washington Nationals. You'll remember that the Nats got him in exchange for a broken down relief pitcher.

I did laugh. And the way Adams is playing, it seems likely that Keibert Ruiz (one of four players coming back in the Scherzer-Turner trade) will be the backup soon enough.
Magpie - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 03:48 PM EDT (#407111) #
It's all amusing to me for another reason. I spent part of the morning mocking Nicki Minaj and anyone who says they're going to "do their own research." Which always make me say "Oh, give me a break. You're not going to do any research. You're going to click on a few web pages." (Actual research involving sitting for hours, days, weeks - longer! - in some musty library...)

And then the Not-So-Handsome one poses an interesting question that can actually be addressed by clicking on a few web pages. (well, 60 of them is possibly more than a few.)

I'm having a jolly off-day! How about the rest of you?
John Northey - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 04:58 PM EDT (#407112) #
Web based research is fun - it is not real research but fun unless of course you are researching how people use the web or how it has affecting the general population.

Adams is interesting - in 79 PA he has a 154 OPS+ for Washington. They must be ecstatic about that trade. 292/418/508 has to be beyond their best case imagination. He could be the next Yan Gomes situation (traded away for Esmil Rogers - 0.1 WAR over 2 seasons, lost on waivers) where the Jays trade a catcher who never had a lot of chance here but once given a real shot with someone else takes off. Travis d'Arnaud is another Jays prospect who did well elsewhere but he was part of a trade for a (then) current Cy Young winner. Weird, Jays have produced so few catchers historically but could have 3 home grown here next year and 3 other teams using our former prospects as their #1's.
John Northey - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 05:05 PM EDT (#407113) #
Just saw the video about the home run jacket - started July 29th, record before that day 50-48, now 82-64 so 32-16 (108 win pace) since it started. Is that why they are winning? Nah. But it is a fun thing.
uglyone - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 05:35 PM EDT (#407114) #
It's funny that it's happened to us twice this year but Adams is following in Rowdy's footsteps - a screaming hot first 50pa with his new team (Riley had a .517babip thru 56pa!) but falling off drastically since.
greenfrog - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 08:48 PM EDT (#407115) #
Wow. Baltimore just tied the Yankees 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a 2-2 count on Wynns (wRC+ 51) -- on a wild pitch that Gary Sanchez couldn't corral in rainy weather (the second wild pitch of the inning).

Let's see if the O's can somehow pull this one out in extras.

greenfrog - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 09:12 PM EDT (#407117) #
Hays comes through with a bases-loaded hit in the bottom of the tenth, O's win 3-2. Huge loss for the Yankees and a major boost for the Jays in the critical home stretch.
BlueJayWay - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 09:17 PM EDT (#407118) #
That was a huge result. One out away from winning, the Yankees wild pitch the tying run in and then lose in the 10th. Jays up one in the loss column on both Red Sox and Yankees
scottt - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 09:20 PM EDT (#407119) #
Hays just needed to put the ball in play.
The Yankees lost the lead on 2 wild pitches (Sanchez catching).
They had Gardner on second to start the 10th and he never moved.
Baltimore's 9th hitter layed down a perfect bunt along the 3rd baseline and even though Rizzo was about 30 feet from home, there was no play and everybody was safe.
It looks so easy.

greenfrog - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 09:22 PM EDT (#407120) #
The Yankees were actually one *strike* away from winning, with a very poor O's hitter at the plate (Wynns - career wRC+ 58).

Martin dropped down a gorgeous bunt single to start the bottom of the tenth, resulting in runners at first and third. Mullins was intentionally walked to load the bases. Mountcastle struck out, then Hays came through with a ground ball single through a drawn-in infield. Quite dramatic and a crushing loss for New York.
John Northey - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 09:28 PM EDT (#407121) #
Love it - a shame I turned it off as I thought 'nah, Yankees not blowing this to the O's'. My mistake. Yay!
Mike Green - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 09:59 PM EDT (#407122) #
The schedule-maker and the Blue Jays were extremely kind to those who observe Yom Kippur.  Finishing yesterday's 3:07 start in 2 hours and 29 minutes (with a victory!) was a gift from the club, and today being an off-day was likewise a gift.  When I was a kid, Yom Kippur usually fell in early October on the day of a World Series game, and later on it was commonly early in the playoffs or at a key moment in a pennant race. 
John Northey - Thursday, September 16 2021 @ 10:13 PM EDT (#407123) #
On a different topic...

Jays with 20+ HR this year: Vlad, Semien, Teoscar, Bo, Grichuk. Gurriel is at 19, Springer 17 - I like both their odds.

That would be 7 guys with 20+ which has happened twice in Jays history - 2000 (Delgado, Batista, Fullmer, Cruz, Mondesi, Stewart, Fletcher, first 4 had 30+ which could still happen but Bo needs 5 and Teoscar 3 to get there) and 2010 (Bautista, Wells, Hill, Lind Encarnacion, Buck, Overbay, 2 others over 10).

The ML record is 8 for Minnesota in 2019 (Nelson Cruz led the way, 5 had 30+, 11 10+ HR). They hit 307 HR as a team that year with 101 wins but lost in the ALDS to the Yankees.

For 40+ the Jays max is 2 - 1999 (Delgado & Green), 2000 (Delgado & Batista), and 2015 (Donaldson & Bautista, EE had 39). Semien is 1 away from having 2 this year. No way Teoscar hits 13 in the time left though to make it 3.

For 10+ HR the Jays max is 13 in 2019. That is a safe record - 9 is the most I see happening this year (7 already, Jansen & Kirk are at 8 each, Biggio 7, Dickerson 3 - Tellez had 4, rest are 2 or less).

2 guys over 100 RBI (Teoscar & Vlad) with 2 more in the 90's (Semien & Bo), and 2 more in the 80's (Grichuk & Gurriel), all others sub 40. Jays record is 3 guys with 100+ in 1993 (Carter, Molitor, Olerud), 1998 (Delgado, Canseco, Green), 2000 (Delgado, Batista, Fullmer), and 2015 (Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion). For 90 it is 4 in 1993 (add in Alomar). For 80 it is 4 in 1993, 2001, 2006. So the Jays have a new record for 80+ RBI guys already with 6, tied the 90+ record, and need one of Semien or Bo to get to 100 to tie that record. The ML record for 100+ is 5 (two teams in 1894, Yankees in 1936), for 90+ is Baltimore 1894 with 8 (their entire starting lineup, but they were 3rd in runs scored), for 80+ it is 8 as well Baltimore 1894 and Boston 2003 (Johnny Damon the only regular not to get 80 RBI's).

Fun to dig into. Got curious when I read something about the Jays having more 25 HR, 90+ RBI guys than ever before.
Chuck - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 07:50 AM EDT (#407125) #
on a wild pitch that Gary Sanchez couldn't corral

I commented recently on the Yankees' poorly configured roster. No real shortstop. No center fielder (other than the very brittle Aaron Hicks). Generally, too much talent at the left end of the defensive spectrum. I neglected to mention catcher. Sanchez has difficulty catching thrown baseballs like no catcher I have seen before. It appears that his 3-4 WAR days are done, so the Yankees will have to make a decision on what they do at this position. They must be wanting to move on from Sanchez.

This will be a challenging off-season for a team already up against the tax threshold, and with so many roster adjustments required.

John Northey - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 09:47 AM EDT (#407126) #
Funny how I have no sympathy for the Yankees. Wouldn't mind if they went into a slump like the late 80's/early 90's when they finally hit rock bottom and got the #1 overall pick (1991) and wasted it on a guy whose arm blew out before reaching the majors (Brien Taylor). FYI: he was just the 2nd #1 pick not to reach, the last 3 haven't yet, nor 2017's Royce Lewis, or the Astros 2014 and 2013 #1 picks (Brady Aiken didn't sign now appears to be out of organized ball, Mark Appel who is now with the Phillies and has a 6+ ERA in AAA, 5.84 in AA this year).
uglyone - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 10:07 AM EDT (#407127) #
So I finally got myself neck deep into a 2015 vs 2021 jays debate and was reminded of the horror of us actually choosing to use Ben Revere as our leadoff hitter all playoffs, giving him more plate appearances than any other Jay despite him posting a .590ops.

Ach. I think that one decision alone might have cost us the title, though with a lot of help from being forced to play Goins full time.

Thank god we donít feel the need to put one of our worst hitters at leadoff this year.
Magpie - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 12:00 PM EDT (#407129) #
choosing to use Ben Revere as our leadoff hitter all playoffs

When Tulowitzki arrived, I remember actually saying that Gibbons should just bat Tulo leadoff in Reyes' old spot - and by gosh that's what Gibbons did! For a whole month! But Tulowitzki apparently hated leading off, and Gibbons relented and moved Revere up from the bottom of the order.
Nigel - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 12:28 PM EDT (#407130) #
Gary Sanchez is the poster boy for current, publicly available, defensive metrics being way off base. Both bWAR and fWAR suggest that he is something like an average defensive C. This is one case where the subjective, eye test, tells you those metrics are just wrong. He's a terrible defensive C with excellent arm strength.
Kasi - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 12:52 PM EDT (#407131) #
The more I hear about Tulo the more I dislike him. Obv was a big upgrade over Reyes but this refusal to move to other positions or lineup spots to help the team doesnít paint him in a good light. Throws a fit when he is asked to move off SS, isnít willing to help the team at lead off. Not to mention his inability to stay healthy through his career.
uglyone - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#407132) #
"When Tulowitzki arrived, I remember actually saying that Gibbons should just bat Tulo leadoff in Reyes' old spot - and by gosh that's what Gibbons did! For a whole month! But Tulowitzki apparently hated leading off, and Gibbons relented and moved Revere up from the bottom of the order."

As George Springer shows.....there were much better options than either of those guys!
bpoz - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 01:23 PM EDT (#407133) #
SF is very intriguing. Many old players are producing.

These SF old players should have their contracts expiring soon I suspect. As mid 30 year old FAs they will get short term contracts most likely. They should be able to add good depth to someone if they have something left in the tank.
Chuck - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 01:33 PM EDT (#407135) #
As George Springer shows...

It's funny how the culture has changed, and especially so in recent years. There seems to be little pushback any more when players are not in RBI spots in the lineup. Power hitters batting leadoff, batting second, whatever.

The RBI has really lost a lot of its cachet, and good thing too. Batting average has long been there. What was the last batting championship you remember following with any enthusiasm? And pitcher wins. Those seem to be an anachronistic afterthought in most discussions.

Some broadcasters, to go unnamed, betray their old school roots by finding any opportunity to extol the virtues of RBIs and Wins, the barometers of choice from their playing days. And of course those are not just barometers of skill, but of character. Because those narrataives are too enticing to forego.

Mike Green - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#407136) #
The Jays have Bichette slashing .291/.341/.470 (and 22/1 stealing bases) batting cleanup with Springer slashing .258/.349/.549 batting leadoff.  I am pretty sure that any purely statistical simulation would suggest that the club would score a few more runs if they switched the two of them, and a few more again if they had Guerrero Jr. batting any other place than third (1st, 2nd or 4th).  My guess is that if you put it into an optimizer, the result would be Semien, Springer, Bichette, VGJ, Teoscar, but at the most, the difference would be 5 runs (or 1/2 a win).  And that's just the theory.  Springer says that he is most comfortable batting leadoff.  That's worth something. 
Magpie - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 01:59 PM EDT (#407137) #
There was a period early in 2015 when Reyes was hurt and out for a month. Gibbons tried Travis leading off, which made sense - but Travis immediately went into a slump. Donaldson got a few games there as well.

The guy who led the 2015 Jays in OBP was Jose Bautista, who Cito Gaston had used as a leadoff hitter to finish 2009 and to begin 2010. But he didn't hit leadoff in Toronto again until 2016.
pooks137 - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 02:00 PM EDT (#407138) #
I would imagine the things like RBIs, batting average, starter wins, saves and possibly even holds still matter to guys that are still arb eligible, especially if they've ever personally sat in on the hearing like Stroman did.

Guys who have reached FA eligibility probably don't care unless it's a pride issue.
Magpie - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 02:08 PM EDT (#407139) #
These SF old players should have their contracts expiring soon I suspect.

Longoria's signed through 2022, and they have $22 million team options on Posey and Cueto. They have to pick up Posey's, I would think. He's Buster Posey, and he's having a great season.

Crawford, Belt, Bryant, Gausman, DeSciafini, Wood, Solano will all be free agents. As will Tyler Chatwood and Matt Shoemaker, which they probably don't care about so much.
Spifficus - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 02:17 PM EDT (#407141) #
Crawford signed a 2 year extension in August, so they'll have him til the end of 2023 at least.
John Northey - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#407144) #
Lineup effects are always seen as bigger than they are. In university many decades ago I made a lineup simulator on a Radio Shack hand held computer (12 kb of memory iirc) - super weak but set it up to use OBP to figure out what happens if... and I juggled lineups to be ideal (400 OBP first down to sub 300 for 9th) and reversed. The differences were there but not that big (10 runs a year iirc). It is who you put in the lineup that matters, not how you put them there. Thus I was happy with Cito back then putting Devo in leadoff even though his OBP sucked normally since you had to have him in the lineup and he liked leading off. If player preference has any effect, and I'd think it would (who doesn't do better when they are doing what they want to do at work), then Cito was a master at it. Right now the challenge is who do you put behind the plate and at 3B each game - Do you go with defense (Jansen), power (Kirk), or left handedness (McGuire - can't think of any other thing he has over the other 2, a lot less power, tiny bit better OBP than Jansen, better at catching baserunners than the other 2, total zone fielding runs has McGuire at +8, Jansen +5, Kirk -7, BIS per year 2 McG, 0 J, -12 K, FanGraphs has it for Defense 9.5 for McGuire, 4.5 for Jansen, 1.0 for Kirk).

3B is a dogs breakfast all year. Espinal has 1.5 fWAR, Valera 0.3, Lamb 0.0, Biggio -0.1, Smith -0.2. Espinal is the best of the group, but injured. Sigh. 2B/3B will be the challenge for 2022 for sure - doubt Semien will sign up again, Espinal I see as a backup, Biggio best at 2B, maybe Cleveland will be dumb and trade Jose Ramirez here for less than a kings ransom. Can always dream.
uglyone - Friday, September 17 2021 @ 05:45 PM EDT (#407149) #
2015 playoffs

Plate appearances

1. Revere 51
2. Bautista 49
3. Donaldson 48
4. Encarnacion 47
5. Tulowitzki 46
6. Colabello 41 / Smoak 8
7. Martin 33 / Navarro 14
8. Pillar 45 / Carrera 2 / Pompey 1
9. Goins 41 / Pennington 2

I dunno, looks to me like Revere got a good 20% more plate appearances than necessary.
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