Edition No. 2: 5 Best Toronto Blue Jays In The Second Half
5 Best Toronto Blue Jays In The Second Half
Going into the series against the Seattle Mariners, the Toronto Blue Jays had six wins and 11 losses in the second half of the 2013 season. The pitching staff has found ways to lose leads or give up a large amount of early runs making it very difficult for the offense to get back into the game. However, the Blue Jay hitters have played a little better to start the second half with some timely hitting and showing the ability to string a few hits together.
In the last top five count down, the best Blue Jays players for the second half were all batters. One pitcher was able to make the list in the new count down. Along with the one pitcher in the list, is a good mix of young players and veterans. This may be a good sign going into the rest of the 2013 season as well as for the upcoming 2014 season. There are a lot of players on this roster that need to show the Blue Jays’ front office they are worthy of their position on the roster. Alex Anthopoulos has already said that the Blue Jays will have to make some changes for next season and there is no way to know what those changes will be when Anthopoulos is pulling the strings.
As bad as this team has played this season, there are still some players who are bright spots to look forward to watching. My hope as the second half of the season wears on is that the names on the top five lists will change when different players have hot streaks or figure out what adjustments they need to make. Of course, it could also mean that players who are on the list already may be playing poorly, so lets hope for the former.
Brett Lawrie has played in all 17 games since the All-Star break. For a guy that has a history of being injured, and who also started the season on the DL, it is great to see him play well in consecutive games. Lawrie has 16 hits in 67 plate appearances with four home runs and 10 RBIs. Lawrie also drew seven walks while striking out nine times. This is a good sign for a guy who came back from the DL flailing his bat around like he was using it to swat a fly. His slash line so far of .294/.385/.485 shows that Lawrie can be the solid bottom half of the line up bat he needs to be for the Blue Jays to win games.
Jose Bautista has also played in all 17 games since the All-Star break. In 76 plate appearances, he has 18 hits, five home runs, 12 runs scored, 13 RBIs and one stolen base for good measure. Bautista has struck out 10 times while drawing nine walks so far this second half. With a slash line of .273/.355/.530, this is a solid beginning for the second half of the season. The most encouraging thing about this list is that Bautista is No. 4 on the list. As I wrote about Bautista being the engine of this offense, it seems as though there are other batters who have stepped up their game and answered the call to play better.
Colby Rasmus has taken a different approach to this season. He has said he will not let the strike outs bother him and he will play the game as it comes to him. This is probably a good move because he strikes out a lot. Even with his strike outs, he is one of the best players on the Blue Jays this season. Going into the Seattle series, Rasmus had 23 hits in 67 plate appearances with 18 strike outs and two walks. That is a strike out-to-walk ratio that would get most guys sent to the bench, but Rasmus plays great defense and is a good bat to have in the bottom of the line up.
Edwin Encarnacion has been the steady bat the Blue Jays need him to be through the first 17 games of the second half of the season. In 75 plate appearances, Encarnacion has 24 hits, four home runs, nine runs scored and 16 RBIs. Those are some really nice numbers. When Encarnacion’s numbers are combined with the other numbers represented on this list, one has to wonder why the Blue Jays don’t score more runs and win more games. The pitching is so bad and the rest of the line up is so drastically underperforming; the four guys on this list can’t carry both the pitching staff and the rest of the line up.
Mark Buehrle has been the one player on the pitching staff who has shown the ability to be consistent since the start of the second half. Buehrle has started four games and won two of them, both of those wins were pitching gems. Buehrle has given up fewer home runs and struck out 20 while only giving up seven walks. This kind of performance from a starting pitcher is important to the future success of the Blue Jays. The pitching staff needs to build confidence in itself, and Buehrle is leading the way by giving the other Blue Jays’ pitchers a performance to shoot for. If nothing else, the tired bullpen has been able to take a few innings off when Buehrle makes a start and eats up seven innings.