|2007 Postmortem: The Toronto Blue Jays||| Print |||Send|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on December 16, 2007
Batting Average – Alex Ríos, .297
Home Runs – Frank Thomas, 26
Runs Batted In – Frank Thomas, 95
Runs Scored – Alex Ríos, 114
Stolen Bases – Alex Ríos, 17
Wins – Roy Halladay, 16
Strikeouts – Roy Halladay & A.J. Burnett, 176
Innings Pitched – Roy Halladay, 225.0
Earned Run Average – Roy Halladay, 3.71
Saves – Jeremy Accardo, 30
The Blue Jays’ best hitter was – wait for it – Matt Stairs. His OPS of .917 was easily the best on the team. However, he only played in 125 games, because he started mostly against right-handed pitchers. Next was Frank Thomas (.857 OPS), just ahead of Alex Rios (.852). However, Rios was a little more fleet-footed than the Big Hurt, who has not stolen a base in five years now. Rios on the other hand swiped 17 bases while being caught only once and he also played in 161 games, so he gets the award.
Team Cy Young
Roy Halladay K/9 rate dropped to 5.55 while his BB/9 rate rose to 1.91, but he kept the ball in the park and led the team in starts (31), IP and wins. The biggest surprise however was Jeremy Accardo, who came out of nowhere to replace injured closer B.J. Ryan to save 30 games and post a 2.14 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP – at a fraction of the costs no less.
What Went Right
Stairs, Thomas, Rios and Glaus (when healthy) all produced well enough and – more surprisingly - so did second baseman Aaron Hill (.792 OPS), but the show-piece of the team was the pitching staff. Toronto had five starters with 20 starts or more and an ERA of at least 4.13 and four reliever with ERAs south of 3.00, even with Ryan out for most of the year. As a result, the team allowed only 699 runs, 55 less than in 2006.
What Went Wrong
Vernon Wells, fresh off a new seven year, 126 million dollar contract, hit only .245/.304/.402 with 16 home runs and 80 RBI and was one reason why the team scored only 753 runs after cracking 800 the year before. Also disappointing was the production the Jays got from usual power positions like first base and left field where Lyle Overbay and Adam Lind hit only .240/.315/.391 and .238/.278/.400, respectively. However, the main reason the Blue Jays’ season did not went as planned were injuries. In chronological order: Reed Johnson, Brandon League, B.J. Ryan, Troy Glaus, Gregg Zaun, Gustavo Chacin, Roy Halladay, Lyle Overbay, A.J. Burnett and Vernon Wells were all placed on the DL at some time during the season. And while the team did indeed have five above average starters with 20+ starts, injuries forced them to also give 25 starts to Josh Towers (5.38 ERA) and Tomo Ohka (5.79).
Low Point of the season
The Blue Jays started well into the season, going 8-5 in their first thirteen games. They were still 13-12 at the end of April and then went into May losing nine in a row. With all the injuries they had to endure, the team was unable to put together an extended winning streak to get back into the race and barely cracked .500.
Highlight of the season
Shortly following the de-facto season ending losing streak, the Blue Jays sent Shaun Marcum to the mound for his first start and he responded by throwing six no-hit innings (The Jays still lost 1–2 in the end though). That was the brilliant start to an equally brilliant (so far) youth movement for Toronto’s pitching staff.
Up and Coming Player
The young arms Jesse Litsch (7-9, 3.81 ERA), Shaun Marcum (12-6, 4.13) and Dustin McGowan (12-10, 4.08) all pitched very well when the team pushed them into full-time duty last season and if they could keep it up next year, the Blue Jays would easily have one of the best rotations in all of baseball.
What the Team Should Do in the Offseason
The team addressed its weakness at short by signing David Eckstein, who will not be mistaken for Alex Rodriguez, but who can give the team a solid OBP from the lead-off spot together with at least average defense. Other than that, the team seems to be set at all positions and will probably not do anything major. I suggest hiring an extra masseuge or two and maybe a shaman from the Mongolian steppe though – anything to keep the team healthy in 2008.