We’re late to this, of course, just like the Blue Jays offense! Jays From the Couch brings you the Toronto Blue Jays Players of the Month for April.
Finally, it’s over. One of the worst starts in team history. The Toronto Blue Jays started off the 2017 season with an 8-17 start, good for dead last (and it wasn’t even close) in the first month. Since, then, of course, the Jays have gone 3-3 to start May. An improvement!
April wasn’t all frowns, though, and throughout the season we’ve been having you all vote on the sometimes slim pickins’ for the Blue Jays Player of the Game. The results have been tallied, and we now present your April 2017 Blue Jays Players of the Month:
Now before the season, Stroman would seem like a plausible choice, but few (read: no one) expected Justin Smoak to lead the offense through the first month. But this post is based on the votes of the readers of this blog, and unlike the Electoral College, we can truly get a sense of who the fans thought have the greatest positive influence on Blue Jays games this month. So how did they do it?
Player of the Game Wins: 3
April 12 – L, 9 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, HR, BB, 4 K
April 23 – W, 9 IP, 7 H, ER, BB, 5 K
April 28 – ND, 7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, HR, 2 BB, 10 K
Marcus Stroman: Pinch hitter. If it weren’t for Chris Coghlan, Marcus Stroman would have won on April 25th in St. Louis, but alas, the dive gave Coghlan his own, well-deserved victory. There’s plenty of highlights to choose from Stroman’s April, but his two complete games set him well above the competition with pitcher. He also finished a close second to the Kendrys Morales Grand Slam game in Tampa for the Blue Jays’ first win of the season.
Aside from allowing 11 hits in under five innings on April 18th versus Boston, Stroman was lights out this month. Over 36.1 innings, Stroman finished with a 2-2 record, 2.97 ERA and 28 K to only 7 BB. The record was better than expected, thanks to a pair of complete games, as the Blue Jays were scoring at a rate of only 3.0 R/G for Stroman’s starts in April.
Player of the Game Wins: 3
April 14th – 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, K
April 22nd – 2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB
April 29th – 3-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R
Dingers! Justin Smoak seemed to regain his power stroke in April, popping four HRs in 77 April ABs. Smoak drove in 12 runs and slashed .273/.305/.506/.811. He stroked four doubles and even found himself on third base with a triple on April 16th against the rival Orioles. That triple didn’t win him PotG that night, but all of his wins came in games in which he homered.
So where’s the improvement Smoak made? Quite simply, he’s swinging more – but he’s also making more contact. While one month isn’t an incredible sample size, Smoak has seen jumps in his O-Swing% (swings outside the zone) of 29.6% to 32.7% as well as a jump in Z-Swing% (swings inside the zone) of 63.3% to 66.7%. The thing is, he’s not whiffing so much, making contact on in-zone swings at 94.3% – way up from his 82.7% in 2016. Again, it’s early. And 94% Z-Contact is not sustainable for a player like Smoak, so let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Vote Totals (First-place finishes)
3 – Justin Smoak, Marcus Stroman
*As always, hang around after the games for the @JaysFromCouch poll to vote for your Player of the Game for that night. Votes run for 24 hours and are tallied for Player of the Game, Month and Year totals, and they’re how we’ll name our MVP and Cy Young winners in Toronto Blue this season.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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