Will Randal Grichuk cement his future as Blue Jays with a breakout in 2019 or sign his walking papers with another slow start?
With all the excitement for the Blue Jays 2019 season being centered around Vladimir Guerrero Jr. there are many important stories which seem to be overlooked. One of those stories is the evolution of Randal Grichuk and how important this upcoming season will be in defining his career.
A little overdramatic? Hear me out.
Grichuk came to the Blue Jays last offseason from the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Conner Greene and Dominic Leon. Grich was acquired to replace Jose Bautista in the outfield and he is young and under team control for a few seasons. Grichuk was coming from a stadium (Busch) which is not viewed as a hitter-friendly park, entering the Rogers Centre where fly ball turns into home runs with some regularity. This trade had the makings of a breakout season.
Since being drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 Draft by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Randal Grichuk has carried the label of a potential power hitter. To date, he has mashed at a rate of decent, not elite, power hitter. According to Fangraphs, he owns a career WAR of 8.9 with a high water mark of 3.0 in 2015 and low water mark (full season) of 1.4 in 2017. He also owns a career ISO of .244 with a with a high water mark of .272 (2015) and low water mark of .235 (2017).
The Blue Jays outfield will never be mistaken as an on-base machine, owning a career mark of .298 OBP. He strikes out at a rate of 29.1% and walks just 5.8% over 528 games and close to 2000 at-bats. The inability to make consistent contact with a lot of swings and misses make him prone to long slumps. Grichuk got off to a terrible start in Toronto batting .106 with a pair of doubles and home runs in 25 games before landing on the disabled list after straining his knee. His early season struggles were attributed to facing new pitchers, in a new league, with a new team; however, he owns a career batting average of .183 with a .612 OPS over 80 April/March games.
The chart below is a breakdown Randal Grichuk’s numbers by month for his career, with August clearly being his best month and April/March being his worst. Everything in between indicating a .249 hitter with some pop. In his first year in a homer-friendly American League East, Grichuk’s month-by-month breakdown was similar to his career tendencies with the exception of a stellar June (.294/.341/.641 with 8 HR and 20 RBI).
Career Month-By-Month Breakdown
Randal Grichuk owns a .225 BA with 38 HR and .719 OPS in 270 1st half games versus a .272 BA with 53 HR and .865 OPS in 258 2nd half game for his career.
All this is a very long way of saying Randal Grichuk would benefit from bucking the trend of being a notoriously slow starter. I know baseball doesn’t work this way but let’s assume Grickuk managed to put up numbers something close to his 2nd half numbers in the 1st half of the 2019 season; therefore, producing at a more consistent pace. Using the average of June and July and averaging those results for a 25 game sample size for April/March and May, Grichuk would bat .250 while hitting a home run every 4.583 games for 5.45 HR/month. Adding those numbers to his career averages in the 2nd half, Randal Grichuk turns into a .261 hitter with 30 to 32 home run and potential.
Obviously, these projections don’t factor in Grichuk turning in a .222 BA with 4 HR July as he did last season or a June outlined above. It also doesn’t factor in rest days or DL stints, as it is based on a 25 GP/month.
These un-Jeff Quattrociocchi stat manipulations present a productive but not elite outfielder. None of Fangraphs projections from THE BAT (.237 BA 29 HR), ATC (.243 BA 28 HR), Depth Charts (.243 BA 29 HR), Steamer (.243 BA 30 HR), and Fans (9) (.254 BA 30 HR) support a breakout season for Grichuk in 2019.
The former 1st rounder will be playing his age 27 season. He has one more arb season in 2020, entering Free Agency as a 29-yr-old. The Blue Jays are in the fetus stage of a rebuild and the system appears ready to burst with talent; however, the Blue Jays prospects in the outfield in the upper minors don’t possess the power potential of Grichuk. It is this power potential which separates him from fellow Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar.
As he enters his prime seasons, a breakout season in 2019 makes him an extension candidate next offseason. However, another slow start resulting in a sub .250 BA and under 30 HR season makes him a deadline trade candidate in 2019. Sure the Blue Jays could hold onto him past the deadline and run out his term, hoping one of their other outfielders ‘figure’ it out in the meantime.
What would you do with Randal Grichuk?
- Deadline deal
- Run out the clock
*Featured Image Courtesy Of Ryan Mueller of JFtC
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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.