The Toronto Blue Jays should be buyers at the Trade Deadline and one of the things they need is a consistent lefty bat. Tapia is not it
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The Toronto Blue Jays need a lefty bat. I feel like this has been true for so long, it should be on a T-shirt. While good hitters are good hitters and their handedness is something that can be blown out of proportion, having the ability to lessen an opposing pitcher’s comfort on the mound is certainly a plus. So, the Blue Jays need a lefty bat. They traded for Raimel Tapia from a position of relative depth (righty outfielder) to acquire him. Early returns weren’t so hot, but Tapia has come on strong lately, but that doesn’t mean the Blue Jays don’t still need a lefty.
Nick Ashbourne has nicely outlined the recent success Tapia is having at the plate, so I won’t go too much into it, but let’s just say he’s hitting the ball harder and hitting it in the air more, which is resulting in the following, as written by Ashbourne: “The speedy outfielder is currently sporting career highs in Hard Hit rate, average exit velocity, xBA, xSLG, xwOBA and xwOBA on contact, sometimes by significant margins.” That’s all excellent news. Some people are enjoying it so much, they are suggesting Tapia replace George Springer in the leadoff spot. I won’t go that far, not even close, but I will enjoy it while it lasts.
And, that’s the issue, here. This nice month and a bit, but expecting this kind of turn around to be permanent is just wishful. A team as methodical and analytics-minded surely will not leave their playoff chances up to wishful thinking. Instead, they need to be more proactive. If they are serious about contending, Tapia is not going to cut it. Sure, you can enjoy his current performance right now, but if Toronto really believes it needs a lefty bat, they can do better than Tapia.
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None of this is to suggest that Tapia is completely useless. In any given season, even championship teams rely on unknowns or bench players to come through at times. So, the value of having a bench guy performing like this shouldn’t be scoffed at. They’re vital to a season. That said, the fact remains whether his current streak (of over a month) can be trusted.
It says here that the Blue Jays should not be relying on it. They need to insulate themselves for when the inevitable happens. Of course, the inevitable is that Tapia returns to being a bench type performer. In order to do that, they will need to find someone that brings more of a guarantee…if there is such a thing in baseball.
One example might be Josh Bell. He’d be a rental as he’s a free agent in a few months, but he is having a good season at the dish and has far more upside than Tapia. The problem is that the 29 year old Bell would likely see most of his at bats in the DH spot, which currently houses the All Star, Alejandro Kirk. Sure, Kirk can move behind the plate, but what does the club do with Danny Jansen, who is renowned for his work with the pitching staff, etc.?
IF Toronto is looking for a rental, perhaps Joc Pederson makes sense. He’s having a nice year with the Giants. The 30 yr old is a corner outfielder with some pop. He would be a much easier fit to envision than Bell. However, the Giants are a game out of a Wild Card spot at the time of writing and may not be ready to pack it in. The 35 yr old Michael Brantley is an on base machine set to become a free agent, but Houston is likely going to want to keep him for their own playoff run.
Of course, there is a much better fit to be found in Kansas City, which I have already called for. Andrew Benintendi is enjoy a 129 wRC+ and is hitting with an eye to his next contract. He’s making the most out of his time before he hits free agency. Sure, the power numbers are not sexy, but he’s hitting and getting on base, which is something Toronto could definitely use…something Tapia is doing lately, but can’t be expected to continue.
There are likely many other potential lefty targets out there beyond those who are about to hit free agency, which Toronto will also consider since they love years of team control. So, it would be near impossible to examine every left-handed hitter in baseball. Instead, the real point here is that, while Raimel Tapia is having a good streak, it shouldn’t be seen as more than that.
If the Toronto Blue Jays actually feel they’re in need of a lefty bat, they cannot rely on Tapia to be it. Relying on that would be equivalent to throwing a coin in a mall fountain, which is a poor way to chase a championship.
*Featured Images 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.