About two weeks ago, the Blue Jays were leading the American League in runs scored. To anyone who has actually watched this team play in 2011, this seemed like a surprise. Yes, Jose Bautista is a golden god, and Corey Patterson seemed to be fooling us with night after night of solid plate appearances, but we all knew this was coming. After being swept by the Atlanta Braves this week, Toronto has scored a woeful three, THREE runs in their last forty innings.
When Toronto was scoring runs, they weren’t getting pitching; now they are getting pitching and the hitting has come unceremoniously crashing down to earth.
Many have offered up reasons for this sudden offensive collapse, but let’s face facts, a lineup that runs out Corey Patterson, Juan Rivera, Edwin Encarnacion, Jayson Nix, John McDonald, and Rajai Davis on any kind of consistent basis, is going to have trouble scoring runs.
There are essentially three hitters on this team that have a future with this ballclub: Bautista, Adam Lind, and Yunel Escobar. Everyone else is essentially a stop-gap player until something better comes along. We knew heading into this year that this was not a contending team and that the offense would struggle, so let’s all just relax; better things are on the horizon.
Now, what is actually wrong with the Jays’ offense right now? Why technically are they scuffling?
Well, that’s pretty simple; allow me to illustrate using a Brooks Baseball Pitch F/X graph…slightly modified.
The graph above (click to enlarge) shows only pitches thrown today by Braves’ starter Brandon Beachy in which the Blue Jays swung on and missed. As you can plainly see, the plate discipline of our lovable losers bluebirds leaves something to be desired. There has been an overriding lack of discipline and pitch recognition during this slump and Beachy’s 11 strikeouts in six innings today was the ultimate manifestation. They made a pitcher throwing in only his 11th big-league start look like Pedro Martinez. Using my expert counting skills, 10 of the 19 times that Beachy got the Jays to swing and miss, the ball was out of the strike zone; in some cases it was so far down and away from the right-handed hitters that there’s no physical way contact could have been made.
The sad part is that there might be a lot more games like this going forward considering the hitters in this lineup.
Stay patient, better days are coming.