Grading The Blue Jays First Half
Source: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
We are now officially past the halfway point of the MLB season, and the Blue Jays currently sit third in the always tumultuous AL East. And I thought that since most of the Blue Jays roster is still old enough to be in school, I thought it would be a good idea to hand out some report cards based on their first half performance. Time to put on my teacher hat and give out some grades!
Let's start with the Jays offence. Is it any surprise that Toronto's offence is one of the best in the league? Probably. But as I predicted earlier in the season, I expected Vladdy to turn it up and for Marcus Semien to find his bat again. Safe to say both players have proved me right. Vladdy is square in the middle of the MVP conversation with his 28 Hr’s and league leading batting average. He also led all players in all-star votes this season.
Semien was also selected to the all-star game, and in his first season donning the Jays jersey at that. He's 8th in total home runs and has already surpassed his home run totals from last season.
The Jays as a team are 2nd in batting average and 4th in RBI's. That's a big improvement compared to last season as they sat outside of the top 10 in batting average and were 8th in total RBI's. Not bad by any means, but they taken it to a different level this year. However, they could be doing more to get on base, as Vladdy is the only Blue Jay with a OBP ranked inside the top 30.
Overall though, this team doesn’t strike out, they’ll bolster three all-star starters, and have a very deep lineup. Teoscar Hernandez is slashing a phenomenal .297/.340/.477 batting line, and has been one of the team’s most consistent bats all season. Add in Bichette's versatility at the plate, Grichuk's power, and the fact that George Springer has barley been in uniform, Toronto's offence is in the upper echelon of the league.
Offensive Grade - A
Moving onto the Starting Rotation we know that the Jays had a heck of a time trying to find an arm that could stand next to Ryu at the top of the rotation. What they found was Steven Matz, not great. Although Matz's tenure with the Jays started out great, he's won just three out of his last ten starts. He's been serviceable, but not a fantastic addition by any means. However, I will say the success from re-signing Robbie Ray has been surprising.
Ray, who is notorious for his inflated WHIP rating, has managed to keep the walks down, while keeping the strikeouts at a premium. He's been a pleasant surprise for a rotation that has desperately needed arms to eat up innings.
The ace of this rotation, Hyun-jin Ryu, has once again proven himself worthy of the moniker. At 34, he isn't quite having the year was having last year, however he's still been very good. He's arming a slightly above average FIP and ERA, but is still managing to keep guys off base. Admittedly, June was a tough month for Ryu, but he's still one of the league's best hurlers so look for him to get back to domination very soon.
As for the rest of the rotation, guys like Stripling and Manoah have been okay for the Blue Jays. Stripling obviously isn't what he was a few years back with the Dodgers, and Manoah is still finding his footing as a young major league starter, but there isn't much to complain about. In all, the Jays are probably one arm away from being legit contenders, Their rotation is pretty good as it stands, but it could be better.
Rotation Grade - B-
Well, where do we start with this one. I think it's fair to say that the bullpen for the Jays has been a major let down, and has been the obvious achilles heel for the young squad. In close games, the Jays have the fourth worst winning percentage, and are 6-10 in one run games. The inconsistency of the pen is a massive reason why this team is treading water at .500.
Yes they lost Yates early, and Romano has been a bright spot, but the rest of the guys they've been putting out their just haven't been up to snuff. Kudos to management though. They made a tough decision in letting Rowdy Tellez go for a couple of solid arms, however this staff is still woefully underwhelming and will probably continue to bog this team down until they can trim more of the fat.
Bullpen Grade - C-
Overall the Jays are 3.5 games back of the A's for the last wildcard spot. With a 44-41 record, Toronto's management will have some work to do if they hope to get this team to shift to the next gear. I wouldn’t expect anything like what we saw in 2015, but a big move or two could propel them into a playoff spot. They’re a better team than their record indicates, but still I'm a little disappointed how the first half played out.
Overall Grade - C+