The Mockingbird

April Flashbacks

with 8 comments

Just when you thought it was over, the Jays loaded the bases in the 8th and 9th innings Tuesday night with none and one out and failed to cash a single run. They also grounded into three double plays to retake the league lead.

The funny thing is the Jays offensive woes haven’t really gone anywhere at all. Coming into today’s game, here are their numbers for April and May:

Month Batting Average OPS Runs/Game BA/RISP
April .250 .698 4.14 .211
May .260 .696 3.38 .245

So they’ve been slightly better with RISP, but still rather terrible. Their pitching has been similar, with a 3.75 ERA in April and a 3.65 in May. So what has lead to a 12-6 (12-7, now) May and an 11-17 April? The answer is one-run games. In April, the Jays were 2-8, and in May they are 5-1. And that, sadly, is mostly luck. So don’t buy talk of a turnaround- if the Jays keep playing the way they are now, they will be not quite as bad as they were in April, but not as good as they’ve been in May.

As for tonight, obviously both pitchers had good stuff so instead I’m going to pitch f/x the location two key pitches- first, Shannon Stewart’s GIDP, partly because the phrase “Shannon Stewart DP” is going to triple my traffic overnight, but also because without looking at the pitch, I 100% guarantee it’s an inside fastball:

Argh! He’s moved on to Curveballs smack down the middle. Anyway, I bring this up because Shanny now has 8 double plays in 113 at-bats. At this rate, it’s only going to take him 508 at bats to smash the all-time single-season record of 36 GIDP (which took Jim Rice 657 AB). I don’t think DP’s are as fatal a flaw as John Brattain does in his latest MSN article, but that’s just ridiculous for a pretty quick player- and almost all of them are on him predictably getting jammed inside with fastballs.

Brattain also mentions how the Jays don’t swing at the first pitch very often. He’s right in general, though I don’t think it’s the cause of the RISP woes because the Jays actually swing at more first (and other) pitches with RISP. But what did catch my eye is that with RISP and three balls, the Jays are hitting .165. Unbelievable! For some reason, they’re working the count in their favour and then choking on mostly grooved fastballs. Like this one to Alex Rios to end the game:


Written by halejon

May 20, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Posted in Seriousness

8 Responses

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  1. What about the pitch Stairs took for a called 3rd strike? I was shocked that he took a called 3rd strike. Without question, he has the best approach at the plate of all the Jays hitters.

    What’s wrong with the Blue Jays? I’m not a MLB calibre hitter but I was a good ball player growing up and my approach was pretty simple.

    On the first pitch you sit on a pitch and if it isn’t exactly what you are sitting on you let it go. After this you work the a bat – SITTING ON A PITCH – IE you are looking for a pitch in a certain area and if you don’t get it you either let it go (if it looks like a ball) or you try and foul it off (if it’s a strike and you already got 2).

    The Jays appear to just… keep looking for a pitch. Working the count is great – but your end goal when working an at-bat shouldn’t be a walk, your end goal should be at the very least, one great pitch to take a huge rip at. The walk should be the by product of a good approach at the plate and you not getting the pitch you want. It appears the Jays end goal is the walk.

    You get a pitch, you hit it, or at least you try to hit it.

    Don’t look now, but Thomas just up-shifted, and appears to be in 3rd or 4th gear with top speed quickly approaching.


    May 21, 2008 at 10:03 am

  2. Probably worth checking out Blair’s piece w/ JP on AL offensive shortcomings so far this year. Just skim read the thing but came away with the conclusion that if I was a lying liar who told lies, I would probably start circulating some grand conspiracy theories about how the game is changing post-steriods era rather than admit that my team really can’t hit for shit.

    johnny was

    May 21, 2008 at 12:36 pm

  3. Well…95 on the corner freezing a player isn’t always a philosophical or mental error…to quote Vernon Wells:

    “What’s funny, when you’re watching on TV in the clubhouse or watching from the bench, the game seems so much easier,” he says with a smile.

    “You can see why fans yell, ‘What are you swinging at that for?’ When you’re watching from the side, you say, ‘Hey, I wouldn’t have swung at that pitch.’ ”

    What gets me is even in the good counts when they do swing, they’re not hitting for average or power. Aaron Hill was doing the same thing last year. Hitters have such a huge advantage in hitter’s counts and we’re two months into the season and it’s almost been the other way around.


    May 21, 2008 at 3:37 pm

  4. Yeah, I read that….hilarious. Especially that comment about this is what offenses are going to look like for the next 3 years. The same thing happened last year and by the end of the season (although HR’s were down) the number of runs scored wasn’t down at all.


    May 21, 2008 at 3:38 pm

  5. That fastball looked a lot more marginal on TV.


    May 21, 2008 at 6:20 pm

  6. I think it’s pretty clear GIDP tracks GB% *much* more closely than it tracks speed. That became obvious to me when Alomar was hitting second and wiping out White ahead of him at a pretty good clip, because he would drill so many ground balls to the right side. Looking at, Robbie was top-10 in GIDP three times in his career. Conversely, I recall Rob Deer going something like years without hitting into a double play.

    Matthew King

    May 21, 2008 at 11:31 pm

  7. Sure…it’s much more relevant how many you hit into than the handful you can run your way out of. Doesn’t hurt though- most of the top 50 seasons are by some serious plodders. Hey, George Bell even sneaks in there at 15! (with 29)


    May 22, 2008 at 12:16 am

  8. I have to quibble a bit because the simplistic “April v. May split doesn’t really tell the story.

    April was not one consistently sucky whole, it was two seperate 14 game sub-sets.

    I’m too lazy to see how every team stat breaks down between the two (being unaware of any site which can give me the team stats as of a particular day on the calender) but on the most obvious level

    In the first 14 games the jays were 8-6 and scored 5.43 runs per game; in the next 14 they were 3-11 and scored 2.86 runs per game.

    And, of course, in May we are 12-8 and have scored 3.2 runs per game, which isn’t good, but if we- as most people assert – the end of the awful hitting was actually the third game against Cleveland, then that would be 29 runs in 11 games (2.63) before the (supposed) end of the slump and 36 runs in nine games since.

    It seems to me that if one is going to properly ask “are the Jays out of their abnormally pathetic run of offensive production?” then one ought properly compare not arbitrary splits based on the calender, but rather splits that contrast the “good times” to the “bad times”

    If we look at when the team was abysmal scoring runs (a total of 25 games from April 16 to May 12) the Jays averaged 2.76 runs, that’s well below what they averaged before, or since.
    Notwithstanding, of course, that the nine game sample since the recovery is pretty dran small.


    May 22, 2008 at 1:32 am

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