Look — at this point in his career, Mark DeRosa just isn’t a particularly good baseball player.
Signed by the Toronto Blue Jays essentially as a “clubhouse makeup” move to be
an unofficial bench coach backup infielder, you really don’t have to look to far from his -0.1 fWAR through 61 games to see that for the most part, the veteran’s contributions to the team just aren’t really coming on the diamond.
That is except for when he’s used in a very specific role as a pinch-hitter against lefties, anyway.
In that capacity, the 38-year old is practically a one-man wrecking crew, and has been perhaps the unlikeliest among unlikely heroes for the Blue Jay all season long. Just ask the Seattle Mariners, whose bullpen was once again burned in a 3-1 Toronto victory thanks largely to a bases-loaded single off the bat of DeRosa (against lefty Oliver Perez) that cashed in the winning runs.
And while the sample sizes of situations like this are naturally minuscule, it’s difficult not to make something of the fact that including this latest act of unlikely heroism, DeRosa now has five his in 14 at-bats as a pinch-hitter. Not only has he driven in six runs in those situations, he’s walked a whopping seven times and whiffed just three times, good enough for a .357/.571/.643 triple-slash.
That’s a pretty stark contrast to his .231/.317/.448 line overall, and the fact that he has hit a rather unexpected seven homers (in a measly 164 PA) should be credited in part to manager John Gibbons.
Yes, if it weren’t for Gibbons’ willingness to stick to strict platoons in certain situations (DeRosa has a .841 OPS vs. LHP in 2013; Adam Lind? .568) this season, the Blue Jays might not have enjoyed the taste of a second consecutive victory on Monday.
Sure, the overall impact of situational results like what DeRosa has brought to Toronto is not even close to being something that could make a dent in cleaning up the mess that is the 2013 Blue Jays (he is a below-replacement value player, after all); but at the very least, what is does show is that the team does have an ability to maximize its assets thanks to a skipper who isn’t afraid to step on toes to do so.
When the Blue Jays are finally in a spot where they’re ready to compete, these little successes that put the team in the best possible position to win could end up going a long way.