The 2021 Toronto Blue Jays were billed as an offensive force, but haven’t lived up to that yet. The good news is nobody is.
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The Toronto Blue Jays came into the 2021 season with lofty expectations, particularly for the batting order. A young core of talented hitters was only made better with the additions of George Springer and Marcus Semien. Yet, nearing the end of the first month of the season, the club is being carried by its pitching staff, waiting for the bats to come around. To say they’ve struggled offensively is stating the obvious.
Consider the following team numbers and AL rankings via Baseball Reference:
Avg: .225 (10th)
OBP: .297 (11th)
OPS: .660 (12th)
R: 83 (12th)
These numbers may not surprise you if you’ve been paying attention. Breaking it down a bit, we see that Bo Bichette is slashing .250/.297/.476, Cavan Biggio has a .169/.300/.322 line, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. .203/.232/.219. So far, two of the only offensive highlights have been Randal Grichuk who has put up a line of .292/.350/.514 and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.who is the proud owner of a .338/.472/.563 line. Whether Grichuk can keep that performance up over a full season (0ne would think Vlad’s showing is a little more sustainable and that he’s finally living up to his potential) is up for debate, and so too is the struggles of the others.
We are (at the time of writing) just 21 games into the season, so a lot can change, obviously. Perhaps, just like good hitting is contagious, a poor start to the season may be. Perhaps, guys are trying too hard to break the funk. Or, the struggles could be chalked up to a slow start. While it is frustrating to watch a team we’ve had high expectations for struggle a bit, we can’t expect it to continue, can we?
Perhaps, some solace can be found in an excellent piece by Brendan Gawlowski at Fangraphs. He writes that the offensive struggles are rampant around baseball. In fact, not that it is the be all and end all of stats, MLB batting average is “the lowest since at least the turn of the twentieth century…And it’s far, far lower than anything in recent memory”. One of the reasons for this is the increase in strike outs, which is seeing the highest year over year increase of the century. Another reason could be that balls in the air are either being hit for home runs, or outs, which may be an attempt to avoid the shift, which is being used far more in recent years. For a further break down, I suggest reading Gawlowski’s piece.
For fans of the Toronto Blue Jays, it might make you feel better to know that the New York Yankees sit in 15th place in the AL with a .203 BA, 10th with a .302 OBP and 14th with an OPS of .650 and have scored 77 runs, good for 14th. As much fun as it is to watch the Yankees struggle, they’re also experiencing an offensive disappointment, just like many other teams in baseball.
So, while we wait and see if the Blue Jays can improve their offensive output, we will hope that the pitching can continue to carry this team. We’ll also hope that run prevention becomes a priority…even more than it was. For example, keeping Santiago Espinal at third instead of Biggio is a smarter move. Of course, that means that we have to be OK with carrying Espinal’s bat on a team that is struggling to score runs.
There is no easy answer to the team’s scoring to date. It could be a result of a slow start (not everyone is struggling, remember), it could be a result of minor adjustments in the game (shifts, etc), or it could be something we just need to ride out. The good news is that the Toronto Blue Jays are not the only team in baseball going through it.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.