Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blue Jays Mid-Season Grades:Part 1

Time flies; Right? It seems like just yesterday that JPA won the longest game in Opening Day history with his 3 run home run in the 16th inning against the Cleveland Indians on April 5th. Tonight will mark the 81st game for the Jays this season, and, as expected, they have hovered around .500 the entire season. The fact that they have been able to be .500 is astounding due to the fact that they lost 3 starting pitchers in 1 week, have had no offensive production from C,1B and LF(in the case of C, there has been no defensive production either), and have had minimal offensive production as well from SS and 2B. The 25 man roster I will be grading is the 25 players with the most action (PA for batters, IP for pitchers).  Here are the highest 5!
Darren Oliver-A+
Oliver has easily been the most reliable
pitcher this season for Toronto.
The 41 year old Oliver has been untouchable this season for the Jays. He has pitched to a 1.59 ERA, a 270 ERA+, and a FIP of 2.80. The lefty Oliver, who sits in the high 80’s with his fastball co-leads the Jays with 8 Shutdown appearances, to go along with just 3 meltdowns. He has 100% been the best pitcher on the staff this season, and is the best off-season move by AA to this point. In a bullpen that has not produced to what was expected, Oliver has been a constant success, a pleasure to watch, and has quickly become a fan favorite. If the Jays do go into sell mode before the deadline, Oliver will probably be moved, as he has a lot of value on the trade market, but if not, which is more likely, I don’t see any reason why his $3 million 2013 Anthoption will not be picked up at the end of this season.
Jose Bautista-A
The lone Blue Jays 2012 All Star is coming off of one of the best months that I can remember as he hit 14 home runs this past June. Bautista’s June raised his stats to A level, as his OPS is back above .900, he is on pace for 54 home runs, and is also on pace to break 100 walks again. The average isn’t there, but who really cares about average anyways? His OBP is very good at .361, nowhere near last year’s unsustainable mark of .447, but above .360 is great for anybody. He, along with the other 3 players in the top of the order, has kept the Jays in the playoff hunt, and has spoken out recently that he wants the Jays to be buyers, and to try to contend this year. This grade would have been an A+ if he put up these same numbers by averaging them out per month, but because of his horrible April, it is only an A.I can see him finishing the year with around 50 home runs, 100+ RBI, and an OBP of close to .400 if not more.
Bautista and Encarnacion have been the most
 powerful 3-4 punch in all of Baseball this season.
Edwin Encarnacion-A
EE was keeping the Jays afloat in April and May until Jose regained his robotic form, and has been one of the most consistent players to play for the Jays so far this season. Edwin is among the league leaders in HRs, OBP, SLG, OPS, and for some strange reason, HBP. Encarnacion has been hit by 8 pitches this season, but has also been walked 32 times. I believe Edwin should have been an All-Star, but because he plays for the Jays, who get no recognition by the MLB at all, he is not. He has also added a bit of a speed element to his game, as he has stolen 8 bases so far this season, while only being caught twice. The only thing keeping him from being an A+ in my opinion is his defense, which has been below replacement level this season.
Brett Lawrie-B+
The major league leader in WAR (According to Baseball-Reference, not FanGraphs) has been very consistent this season, but has not had the power we expected from him. Since moving into the leadoff spot he has been seeing a lot more pitches, and as a result of this, he has seen his power numbers go up a little. His defense has been stellar at third, and his incredible athleticism has let the Jays use him in unconventional shifts that have been the reason for him leading the league in DRS and WAR. In order to get into the A- to A+ level by the end of the year, I think we need to see Brett start hitting for power, and to get on base more, as his .337 OBP is not very good for a leadoff hitter. Even though his power numbers have not been there so much this season, Brett has been somebody the Jays can count on all season long offensively and defensively.
Rasmus and Lawrie have sparked the offense
since moving into the 1 and 2 spots in the lineup.
Colby Rasmus-B
Since being moved into the #2 spot in the lineup, Rasmus is raking, and has made Tony La Russa look like a complete idiot, or shall I say made him look like a bigger idiot. After a great June that saw Colby hit 8 home runs, Rasmus hit a ball 448 feet last night off of the 5th deck at Rogers Centre. That home run defined how well Colby is seeing the ball of late. When he gets his pitch, he does not miss. He has changed his stance, and due to that change he is now one of the best offensive center fielders in baseball. For Colby to improve this grade, he is going to need to get on base more, which he has been doing of late, but he still needs to work on it, and he needs to get better reads/jumps on balls,. His defense has been slightly above average, but it could definitely be better.

What do you guys think of the grades so far? Would you have graded them differently? Leave a comment below with your opinion!

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