Jays From the Couch looks at the rough start to Randal Grichuk’s time with the Toronto Blue Jays and promptly dismisses it
The Toronto Blue Jays effectively replaced Jose Bautista with Randal Grichuk. Well, more to the point, they replaced 2017 Jose Bautista with Randal Grichuk. He’s about eleven years younger, can play an improved outfield and has pop in his bat. For $2.6M, this is an upgrade. In fact, you can count me among one of those folks who were very excited to see Grichuk’s bat move from St Louis to Toronto and the AL East. His career ISO mark of .235 is definitely something to get excited about.
Here we are 10 games into the 2018 season and the excitement hasn’t exactly been fueled by the 26 year old’s performance. Actually, the opposite has happened. He is struggling at the plate and it has sparked some cries for a replacement, which I will get into below.
First of all, let’s look at Grichuk’s start (all numbers accurate as of pre-game Monday, April 9) in his new uniform. Through 38 plate appearances, he has collected all of two hits. Both of those hits resulted in an RBI, one of which came from a home run. That is all he has to show for his time at the plate thus far. He’s hitting just 0.59, has an OPS of .279 and one of the uglier wRC+ marks you’ll ever see: -26! He’s striking out just over 34% of the time and making contact at a rate of 61.3%.
🚨 SSS 🚨
Grichuk, who is sitting tonight, has a BABIP of .048 in 38 plate appearances to start this season#BlueJays
— ░D░O░Y░L░E░ (@DoyleJFtC) April 9, 2018
The casual observer might say that Grichuk appears to be trying too hard; he has a case of trying to impress his new team and their fans. If that is the case, baseball is the place where that approach will have the exact opposite effect.
Instead, Grichuk is off to a very disappointing start, which is rubbing many the wrong way. There is a segment of Blue Jays Land that is calling for Teoscar Hernandez to man right field. Obviously, those people remember the September Hernandez had to end the 2017 season. He hit 8 home runs and drove in 20 runs to impress his new club. He would follow up that performance with a Spring Training showing that suggested it wasn’t a fluke. Hernandez slashed .358/.386/.698 with 4 homers, 4 doubles, a triple and 15 RBI. For his efforts, he was sent to the Buffalo Bisons, who have yet to play a game this season due to poor weather (again, accurate at the time of writing). It is easy to see why some fans would be calling for the guy they think is a hot bat to replace the guy who is not.
But, just because something is easy to see, doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. The most obvious argument against this thinking is that Grichuk has played 10 games. That’s it. It would be silly to make any real decisions on such a short sample size. A baseball season is a marathon and no real conclusions can be drawn on 10 games. How many 10 games sets do we remember from any player’s season? Not many. People who know baseball do not panic over 10 games, even if they are as bad as Grichuk’s first 10.
None of this is taking away from Hernandez and what he could bring to the big league club. He very well could chip in more offensively, which wouldn’t be that hard to do. But, that doesn’t mean that he should be called up to take over full time duties in right field. In fact, the argument can (and should) be made that Hernandez’ success has come in a small sample size as well. There is no guarantee that he is an upgrade.
Regardless, this replacement is not going to happen. Not yet. Grichuk will be given time to work his way out of the funk he’s in. As he should be. He has had success at the big league level. Perhaps, if he is pressing too hard, all he needs is some time off to chill in the dugout, feel part of the team and relax. John Gibbons seems to agree as Grichuk had the night off Monday.
10 games into a season is not the time to start making drastic roster changes based on whether a guy is struggling. Let’s chill on that front. Sure baseball is back and the Blue Jays are playing some exciting games, even winning. It makes sense that people want to analyze things. But, to suggest that Grichuk be replaced is waaaaaaay too premature. Just stop.
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