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Almost halfway into the regular season, we can look to the current standings and think about some things. One of those things is the last place standing of the Toronto Blue Jays. Being a Blue Jays fan, I have to say that last place is something dissapointing. However, it's also surprising, given the fact that a lot of people, including the club itself, were saying they were in contention for the division title this year. I, myself, did not think this could happen, given the state the Boston Red Sox are in, but a runner-up position and thus a wild card to the playoffs was certainly a possibility. In this article I give my take on why the Blue Jays are not going to the play-offs this October, after witnessing their season until now.
So the Jays aren't winning enough games as it is. Currently being below the .500 mark proves that. Noticing that also was their GM J.P. Ricciardi, who saw manager John Gibbons as one of the causes and fired him, re-hiring Cito Gaston, the guy who brought them the Series titles in the 90's. However, I don't think Gibbons is the main cause. In my opinion, it's the seeming inability of the Jays to hit big. Looking at some statistics, you'll find that Toronto has some ace pitching, having an ERA of 3.58, the third best in the Majors. The last place Pittsburgh Pirates are at 5.06, so that can't be the problem. When it comes to that other thing when playing defense, fielding, you'll see that the Blue Jays are at an 8th place in the Majors with a .986 FPCT, only .002 lower than the first place Los Angeles Angels. So that isn't the problem either. Therefor, it must be hitting.
The Jays not being able to hit is evident, but they are most certainly not the best at it. When you take a look at the batting average you'll find that it's at .262, good for a 14th place in the majors. The first place Chicago Cubs have a .284 BA. But connecting to the ball and putting it in play is one thing. There is also another statistic regarding hitting and that is slugging average. Now and then a player and a team must be able to hit the ball in such a way that they get more than one base. And it's just that, which is the problem with this team. They have a slugging average of .384 (25th place). The highest slugging player is catcher Rod Barajas (.479), but he is sharing time behind the plate with Gregg Zaun. After letting go their only real slugger, Frank Thomas, they got no one left who fills that gap. Matt Stairs does his best, but with only 8 home runs, his best isn't enough. Those eight HR's are the teams highest and that isn't a lot when you look at some other players and teams. The Blue Jays as a whole hit 54 home runs, putting them at the 27th place in the entire Major League. The Florida Marlins have 112. That's quite a difference.
The team has an OBP of .340, so they are able to get on base. But when they they have those people on base, they forget to bring them in. That's also noticable by the low-ranking number of runs, 322. The Rangers have more than a hundred more runs. In my opinion the Toronto Blue Jays need a guy who hits for distance an who hits a lot. Those guys can be found in the Majors. They need a slugger and Ricciardi should provide one.
After just witnessing a monster win by the Jays over the Cincinnatti Reds (1-14), I was wondering why I was doubting the ability of the Jays to hit and win games. But I still stay with my thoughts. The Jays need a slugger.