Welcome to Toronto Blue Jays Talk Radio (unplugged), a show dealing with baseball matters that do not require in-depth study.
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Some topics require in-depth analysis. Other matters require fewer words and numbers. The unplugged version of Toronto Blue Jays Talk Radio is the appropriate medium for the latter.
Caller Kevin: One of the weaknesses of the Blue Jays is that the Blue Jays hitters do not hit enough to the opposite field. The ballclub is pull-happy. Tell me I’m wrong!
Radio Host: You’re mistaken. Among American League teams, the Blue Jays rank fifth in Oppo% (25.4%). The leader in this category is Chicago (98 wRC+) at 26.8%. The laggard is Houston (21.9%), which has produced a 116 wRC+, tied with New York with the best wRC+.
Concerning Pull% and Cent%, the Blue Jays rank eighth and are tied for ninth, respectively. Toronto is third in runs scored per game and tied for third in wRC+. I don’t see a strong connection between hitting to the opposite field and run production thus far into the 2022 season.
Caller Barry: Thanks for taking my call. I will ramble for a long time, make several statements, and then ask a question.
Radio Host: Let’s skip to the question.
Caller Barry: Oh, okay. Do you think the Blue Jays are too dependent on home runs?
Radio Host: I don’t think the Jays are too reliant on the long ball. Unfortunately for the radio audience, Table 1 can’t be seen. Accordingly, I will summarize the highlights for the listeners.
- The American League average for runs generated from home runs is 1.72 runs per game or 41.1% of total runs per game (4.18).
- Of the 4.76 runs per game that the Blue Jays have tallied, 44.9% (2.14 runs per game) have scored via the home run.
- For comparison purposes, of the four top run-scoring teams, which the Jays rank third, the Yankees score 52.4% of their runs from home runs.
- In terms of runs per game, of the top-four run-scoring American League clubs, Toronto ranks second in both runs per game from balls in play (2.62) and runs per game from home runs.
- I should note that Toronto’s distribution of runs from balls in play and home runs is less skewed this season. In 2021, Toronto produced 49.6% of their runs from balls in play and 50.4% from home runs.
A little tidbit. Many people believed that the 2015 Blue Jays relied heavily on home runs. That is an inaccurate impression. The 2015 Blue Jays led the American League in runs scored 891, which was 227 more than the second-best run-scoring offence, the Yankees. Toronto scored more runs from balls in play than any American League team. The run distribution from balls in play and runs from home runs was 57.7% and 42.3%, respectively.
Caller Alex: Hello, Numbers Guy! How about we talk about players? Specifically about how the Ross Atkins regime has done a very poor job drafting and developing pitchers. What say you?
Radio Host: And a pleasant Good Morning to you. I don’t think we have enough information to evaluate how well or poorly teams develop players. Hence, for discussion purposes, suppose we look at the bWAR production of drafted pitchers during Atkins’s tenure as General Manager.
Atkins has been Toronto’s GM for the 2016-2021 June Amateur Drafts. Concerning total bWAR from pitchers drafted during the noted period, Toronto has the ninth-highest bWAR. Regarding each team’s highest bWAR pitcher, Alek Manaoh’s 5.6 bWAR ranks fifth-highest.
The top five teams in total bWAR produced by drafted pitchers, the ball clubs are as follows:
- Cleveland (26.1)
- San Diego (17.7)
- St. Louis (16.4)
- Los Angeles Dodgers (16.1)
- Milwaukee (13.1)
The Blue Jays check in with a 6.8 bWAR. The top-five pitchers in terms of bWAR to date are Shane Bieber (13.0), Corbin Burnes (9.4), Tony Gonsolin (7.0), Cal Quantrill (5.7) and Manoah.
It would certainly be nice to have Bieber and Burnes, both 2016 fourth-round selections, or Gonsolin (a 2016 ninth-round pick) on the Jays roster. However, I’m afraid I have to disagree that having a pitcher who has produced the fifth-highest bWAR to date from the 2016-2021 June Drafts is indicative of a poor record of drafting pitchers.
Caller Usain: I heard the Blue Jays have been less effective at hitting high-velocity pitches this season. Is that true?
Radio Host: That is correct. In 2021, when facing pitches with a velocity equal to or greater than 95 mph, Toronto produced BA and xBA marks of 0.265 and 0.271, respectively. Those scores were the highest in the American League. Concerning SLG and xSLG, the Jays were second-best with their 0.426 and 0.462 data points.
The 2022 season is a different story. Toronto’s rankings in BA, xBA, SLG and xSLG are eighth, sixth, ninth and seventh. Toronto’s scores are 0.232, 0.263, 0.360 and 0.435, respectively. A deeper dive is needed to determine why the Blue Jays are less proficient at hitting high-velocity pitches this season than in 2021. However, the drop-off from 2021 is cause for some concern, particularly when one projects how the Jays will fare against high-velocity relievers in the postseason (hopefully).
We have time for one more call. Who’s on the line?
Caller Lou: It’s Lou; let’s talk about baserunning. How are the Jays doing on the basepaths this season?
Radio Host: As measured by BsR, the Blue Jays are eighth among American League teams. Toronto’s 1.4 is a tick above average. BsR is the sum of the following three elements, as described by FanGraphs.
- wSB – an estimate of the number of runs above or below average a player contributes to his team by stealing bases and being thrown out trying to steal.
- UBR – the run expectancy of the advancement (or lack thereof) running the bases (non-stealing situations) and credits that to the base runner depending on the frequency with which the average runner advances in the same situation.
- wGDP – the extra outs a player costs his team (or saves) by hitting into more double plays (or fewer) than average given his opportunities.
Concerning wSB, the Blue Jays rank number thirteen (-2.7). Toronto has just two players with positive marks: George Springer (0.9) and Raimel Tapia (0.2). Bo Bichette (-0.9) and Vlad Guerrero Jr. (-0.8) are the two laggards. Bichette has been caught in four of nine stolen base attempts; Springer has succeeded in eight of nine attempts. Toronto’s stolen base success rate is 68%, which lags the American League’s median (75%).
Regarding UBR, Toronto is second-best with a 3.7 score. The best baserunners per UBR are Matt Chapman, Cavan Biggio and Tapia, each with a 1.0 UBR. The three-lowest ranking Jays are Alejandro Kirk (-1.1), Guerrero Jr. (-0.5) and Danny Jansen (-0.4). Given Kirk’s lack of foot speed, his negative UBR score should not come as a surprise.
Regarding wGDP, the Blue Jays are the eighth-best (0.4), slightly better than the American League average. The two best Jays in terms of grounding into double plays at a rate lower than the average are Springer and Chapman, both at 0.7 wGDP. Guerrero Jr. (-1.1), Tapia (-0.7) and Kirk (-0.7) have grounded into double plays at a higher clip than the average. For the record, Guerrero Jr.’s 2021 wGDP score was minus 1.7.
Well, that’s it for today. Thanks for listening.
*Featured Images Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Bob was a St. Louis Cardinals fan until the Blue Jays arrived on the baseball scene, although he still has a soft spot for the Cards. Similar to straddling the Greenwich Meridian, as depicted in the avatar, Bob applies sabermetrics when applicable, but his heart tells him that Lou Brock belongs in the Hall of Fame.