We look at the 3 biggest stories surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays were a popular pick to take second in what ended up being a crowded AL East. With the Baby Bombers and the Red Sox have had success all year, the Blue Jays have dealt with injuries and down years from multiple sources. Subsequently, the Blue Jays are now sitting in the bottom of the AL East. The season is wrapping up soon, and it will be time for the Blue Jays to evaluate how to approach 2018.
1st Story: What did Justin Smoak do to change his season?
The biggest improvement for Smoak is easy to find: an increase in his FB/HR percentage. He’s had an increase from 17.7% in 2016 up to 23.4% in 2017. In addition to that, Smoak has changed his field hit percentage. In 2016, Smoak pulled the ball a large percentage of the time, 41.7% Pull, 28.3% Cent, and Oppo 29.9%. In 2017, Smoak changed his approach, to 40.1% Pull, 35.5% Cent, and 24.4% Oppo. This is likely a big contributing factor in increasing his AVG from .217 to .284. Since his BABIP has stayed essentially the same, .295 in 2016 to .297 in 2017. Hopefully, Smoak will be able to continue this trend.
2nd Story: How do the Toronto Blue Jays handle Bautista?
Jose Bautista has had a very successful renaissance after changing his approach in 2010 with the Blue Jays. When he was able to play more than 120 games in a season, he hit over 30 HR’s and had over 100 RBI’s. One of the biggest improvements was the reduction in his K%. In 2009, his percentage was 21%. His breakout season in 2010, he reduced that to 17.0%. Bautista kept that percentage under 20%, until 2017. This season, Bautista’s K% has crept over 20% again, to 24.4%. In a contract year, Bautista hasn’t quite lived up to the previous seasons in Toronto. For the Blue Jays, the question is what to do with the 36-year-old slugger. It may be time for the Bautista era to end in Toronto.
3rd Story: What about Aaron Sanchez?
In 2016, the feel good story of the Blue Jays was Aaron Sanchez. 30 starts in his first season as a starter, and he went 15-2 with a 3.00 ERA. He had a 2.55 K/BB ratio and was able heralded as the new ace of the Blue Jays staff.
His second year, the year I’m sure many people thought would be Sanchez’s first true step towards becoming a full blown ace, has been rocked by injuries. Sanchez has only been able to make 8 starts. Blisters have been a major concern this year, considering that Sanchez has had three separate instances of blister issues. He’s also had a split nail and a finger laceration. On top of that, he’s dealt with two separate instances of lat strains.
Hopefully, Sanchez can get his health right for the 2018 season, and begin to show what he can really do as a starter in full seasons.
Previous entries in the “3 Stories” series: Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Texas Rangers