I am a virgin to the blogging world, so bear with me on my first ever post. Now that the Canucks have once again been eliminated from the playoffs in disappointing fashion, I can fully appreciate the over-achieving Blue Jays who remain in third place in the toughest division in all of sports.
While the Jays are all but destined to fall back into mediocrity as they have in years past following a quick start, there is reason to believe that these Jays who begin a new Doc-less era are a little bit different.
The Jays began season 1 A.D. (after Doc) without a legitimate staff ace, or a veteran presence in the rotation (unless you count Tallet.) However, this has caused pitchers such as Marcum to grow up quickly and take on the roll of teacher rather than student, which was never more evident than after hearing the news that Marcum actually helped tweak Morrow's delivery following his disastrous start at Fenway. This advice from Marcum at the very least gave Morrow the confidence that there was only just a miniscule problem with his inconsistent delivery and shows the camaraderie between the starters.
Often overlooked in reasons for the Jays success is their fielding. In fact, out of all the American League teams the Jays as of May 17, have the most TFC (Total Fielding Chances) with 1508 - yet hold the third LEAST errors. Furthermore, the under-rated Gonzo, Hill combination has helped the Jays surrender 43 Double Plays, good enough for the second most in the AL. Now that is how you help out a pitching staff that includes Dana Eveland, who holds no real skill yet somehow has managed a 3-2 record despite walking more batters than striking out. The Jays rotation also deserves some credit, along with the 'deadly' catching duo of John Buck and Jose Molina, who have allowed only 23 SB's this season and have thrown out over half that many. To compare, the Red Sox have allowed 46 SB's, while throwing out only 10 - so much for the acquisition of Victor Martinez, defensive catchers are highly under-appreciated, especially if they provide some unexpected pop ie John Buck. This is a nice change from consistently watching AJ Burnett willingly give up 2nd base to everyone he walked to put on first.
At the risk of being a stat nerd I am gonna whip out a few more numbers which help decipher just why the Jays are having so much success, despite boasting a .238 average, and without having a hitter above .300. Its easy to look at the 60 home runs and 102 doubles, which is unbelievable, but also note the 5 CS, and only 20 GIDP. The Jays simply do not give away outs. (Say what you will about their ridiculous strikeout rates, I still say that they are not as big a deal as everyone makes them out to be for both pitchers and hitters alike)
The 2010 Jays are also different because in years past their stats have been skewed by high averages, but no clutch performances. This year is the opposite and it is so much less frustrating to watch. It seems that every series, one or two guys come through in the clutch (see Bautista this past weekend, Snider against Boston, etc) Its not so much how many hits you get, but when you get them, and the Jays low LOB totals display exactly the clutch hitting that every competitive team needs to remain in the hunt well into the summer.
I know its still early, but there is a lot to like with the 2010 Jays so far, let us hope that the Red Sox continue to struggle, and the Yankees start to spend their ridiculously high contracts on hookers and blow - thus distracting them from their on field duties, to give the Jays a fighting chance for the ENTIRE season.