Strong Spring for Alford Has Blue Jays Outfielder on the Right Path

Let us not overreact to Blue Jays Anthony Alford‘s strong spring training numbers. After all, we aren’t REALLY playing the kids yet

Anthony Alford and Bo Bichette currently led the Blue Jays in longballs hit this spring. Seeing Bo Bichette’s name gracing the HR leader board should come as no surprise but Anthony Alford is a bit surprising. It’s not as though the Toronto fanbase had given up or forgotten about the club’s former 1st overall prospect. Far from it. But with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in camp and following a disappointing 2018, it’s easy to see how the 24-yr-old outfielder could get lost in the hype.

 

Now he is creating his own hype.

 

Through 10 games, the Mississippi native is batting a cool .304 with a double, 4 home runs, 7 runs batted in, and 2 stolen bases while scoring 6 runs. Four HR this week have the masses daydreaming Alford could possibly dethrone Kevin Pillar from centerfield. Something some have suggested could happen as soon as early as Opening Day.

 

Ian Hunter from Blue Jays Nation outlines how Pillar seized the job in CF and how he’s managed to hold it since 2015 (full article). Ian also describes ‘the clearest path for Alford to make the team’. Ian makes a strong case for Anthony Alford to head north with the club as the team’s 4th outfielder or even as the clubs starting CF.

 

But it’s Spring Training.

 

In 2018, Alford appeared in 13 spring games, batting .323 with 3 doubles, a pair of triples, a home run, 5 runs batted in, and a stolen base while scoring 7 runs before suffering a hamstring strain and landing on the disabled list on March 29th.

 

Trouble in 2018

 

Alford joined the Dunedin Blue Jays for a rehab assignment on April 9th. He made 7 appearances for the D-Jays before heading to Buffalo on April 19th.  Whether he was still bothered by the hamstring injury or overmatched by Triple-A pitching, Alford batted .222 (6GP) in April and .148 (18GP) in May.

 

The former 3rd round pick started hitting in June with a .276/.370/.471 slash line. He hit his first home run on June 17th, hitting three in June. He struggled again in July but bounced back in August batting .300 with no home runs but an outstanding 11 doubles.

 

The toolsy outfielder posted an OBP of .406 in 2017 as a member of the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Unfortunately, he struggled to get on base with the Bisons, posting a pedestrian .312 OBP while finishing with 7.2 BB%, 26.9 K%, and 0.27 BB/K. Truth be told, Alford was just average in Triple-A in 2018 with a .300 wOBA and 87 wRC+.

 

Alford vs McKinney

 

An argument to return AA back to Buffalo strictly based on his Triple-A stats is flawed since Billy McKinney owns a .258 batting with a .314 OBP and .509 slugging percentage in 131 Triple-A games. Just slightly better than Alford’s numbers. McKinney batted .222 with a .307 OBP and .470 SLG% in 84 MiLB games last year. He also has two minor league options versus Alford’s one.

 

The advantage has to go to McKinney since he did finish strong in 2018 as a member of the Blue Jays (.252 BA with 7 2B, 6HR, and .780 OPS).

 

Closing

 

Without an injury. Without a trade. Without an act from the baseball gods…….

 

Allow Billy McKinney (RHP) and Teoscar Hernandez (LHP) to platoon in left field. Let Kevin Pillar and Randal Grichuk man CF and RF. Return Anthony Alford to Triple-A to play every day. Let him gain confidence in his newfound home run swing and let him work on regaining his on-base skills.

 

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of Roy W from JFtC

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Ryan Mueller

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.