Toronto Blue Jays Hitting Philosophy: Hack Now Ask Questions Later
What is this, 1992?
Blue Jays Skip Cito Gaston has never been mistaken for a cautious, cerebral game manager. His teams of the early '90's were aggressive, brash, and didn't see a pitch they wouldn't swing at.
Fast forward to 2010 and it seems not much has changed.
Meet the new Jays, same as the old Jays.
I've come down hard on some of the fans in my recent articles for their unrealistic optimism. Although that sentiment remains unchanged I must confess that I'm loving the grip it and rip it approach.
Last night's 16-10 barn burner is a great example of what I'm talking about. Five different Blue Jay hitters went yard, including this columnists favorite whipping boy Lyle Overbay, and man crush Travis Snider (isn't he dreamy!).
This old school batting approach starts with table setter Fred Lewis. Not your typical lead off hitter as he's not a high OBP guy and doesn't steal a lot of bases, nonetheless, this is Cito's club: He's got signed copies of Moneyball in his en suite that he uses for TP.
Since being acquired for "future considerations," all Lewis has done is produce. A career .277 hitter, he's now batting .301/2/13 along with 17 runs. Project that over a full season and you're looking at 13 dingers, 84 ribbies, and a very tasty 110 runs scored.
At the other end of the lineup, Travis Snider is starting to heat up and looks to be finally tapping into his immense potential.
As of May 1, Snider was hitting a pathetic .149. However, he seems to be seeing the ball a bit better and has thus raised his average to a much more palpable .241 to go along with six taters.
To look at this from a fantasy perspective, the increased production will inevitably mean Snider gets moved up the batting order. If he can settle in to the sixth spot and stay there, the kid will hit 30 HR's for the first time in his young career.
However, no one is reaping the rewards of Cito's no nonsense approach more than John Buck and Alex Gonzalez.
You can read a more detailed analysis of them here .
In the meantime, consider the fact that these two plugs with career HR highs of 23 (Gonzo) and 18 (Buck) are sitting second and eighth among the AL home run leaders, respectively. Don't they know they're supposed to suck?
If that wasn't enough, consider that Vernon Wells is third on that list.
Perhaps Cito Gaston is exactly what Vernon needed. Slugging a ridiculous .611, Wells is on pace for his best season ever. The skeptic in me points out that his K rate is 25 percent higher then its ever been before but if it ain't broke, why fix it?
Blue Jays fans have been waiting for Wells to earn his money so who cares if he strikes out more? As long as he keeps going yard once every 14.4 at bats and hitting over .300, the Jays faithful will remain happy.
But how long can the Jays keep this up?
Not long. A league low team OBP coupled with a free swinging approach that has lead to 314 rally killing whiffs will eventually catch up to them. Pitchers will adjust and the offense will inevitably collapse.
Having said that, this is still a season worth watching. General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has been doing a great job setting this team up for future success. Moreover, he understands that just because we're rebuilding doesn't mean we have to play like it.
So until the bubble bursts, let's just watch these guys grip it and rip it.