Given the choice between a dynamic offence and a power-heavy, one-dimensional offence, the Toronto Blue Jays have consistently chosen the latter. It’s time to change that
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to suggest that Carrera is the better player – the stats belie this – but that the type of player represented by Carrera is what the Blue Jays need, not more Bautista.
In Carrera, the Blue Jays have a player who can bunt, hustle around the bases, put pressure on the opposing pitcher, and steal bases. He’ll even hit the occasional home run, but it’s Carrera’s overall dynamism at the plate that warrants his inclusion at the top of the Blue Jays’ lineup.
With Bautista, on the other hand, you’re essentially limited to an unagreeable power hitter in decline. He can’t run the bases very well, and unless he’s issued a walk, Bautista is unlikely to reach first base. It’s home run or bust, ball or complaint, for him.
Unfortunately, “circumstances” like age and poor temperament have finally caught up to Bautista. The opposition no longer fears him in the batter’s box, launching fastball after fastball his way, while in the outfield, he’s become a glaring weakness on this team: the man can barely throw the ball to the infield, let alone toss out a runner at third or home. The days when Bautista would regularly call off Kevin Pillar in the outfield are long behind us; now Bautista should be called off the outfield altogether.
There’s a redundancy built into the Blue Jays’ batting order, highlighted by using Bautista in the leadoff spot: there are too many power hitters, not enough light hitter, on the team. Call me a baseball traditionalist, but the ideal Blue Jays lineup would see Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion hitting in the three and four slots, behind two speedsters who can hit for average and are capable of erasing potential double plays with a stolen base.
When Bautista led off the bottom of the third in yesterday’s game with a single, my immediate thought was, “Here comes the double play.” Bautista simply isn’t mobile enough, and the batters behind him aren’t mobile enough, to avoid the double play. Anything short of a bona fide double is cause for concern with Bautista, Donaldson, Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, and Russell Martin composing the top-half of the lineup.
To some extent, the Blue Jays have become a victim of their own success. They’ve gotten this far with the home run, but the home run will also likely kept them from moving past the American League Championship Series for the second year in a row. Kansas City and Cleveland both possess more dynamic offences than Toronto, and both have used those offences to frustrate Toronto into the ground.
It isn’t David Price‘s, Marcus Stroman‘s, or John Gibbons‘ fault that the Blue Jays couldn’t, or can’t seem to, overcome the final hurdle in their way before the World Series. It’s the inevitable byproduct of a lineup that features more Bautista, less Carrera: when the power bats are cold, the team is cold; it’s hard to manufacture runs when you’re not in the run-manufacturing business.
That’s the choice sitting before the Blue Jays – a one-dimensional offence, or a dynamic offence? – but they’ve essentially run out of time to act on it this year. This will likely change in the off-season, however, when the Bautistas of the team are finally cut loose and we see an injection of Carreras. It’s the Cleveland model, and now it’s Toronto’s model with Mark Shapiro at the helm.
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Keith Allison UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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As a long-time Jays fan, I’ve invested more time in bad baseball than a sane person would allow. Fortunately, I was finally rewarded with some post-season action last year! This year?