Evaluating The Jays First Quarter

Analysis

As you may recall, back in January I tried to estimate how many games the 2013 Blue Jays would win based on each player’s WAR, ultimately deciding this was a Jays team that could produce 92 wins. With 40 games now under their belt I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how each player has performed against expectations at the beginning of the season. Let’s have a look, shall we? I’ll start with position players:

2013 Full Year ProjectionPro Rated 2013 Projection2013 Actual To DateDifference
26.46.63.7-2.9
Maicer Izturis10.3(0.7)(1.0)
Brett Lawrie51.30.4(0.9)
Melky Cabrera3.81.00.2(0.8)
Emilio Bonifacio0.70.2(0.5)(0.7)
Henry Blanco--(0.5)(0.5)
Edwin Encarnacion3.50.90.5(0.4)
Jose Bautista5.31.31.2(0.1)
Mark DeRosa--(0.1)(0.1)
Jose Reyes3.10.80.7(0.1)
Josh Thole0.20.1-(0.1)
David Cooper----
Adam Lind0.50.10.30.2
J.P. Arencibia1.40.40.60.3
Colby Rasmus1.40.40.60.3
Munenori Kawasaki--0.40.4
Rajai Davis0.50.10.60.5

Not a whole lot of surprises here.

  • Obviously Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonifacio have had a disappointing start to their Blue Jays careers.
  • An early season injury and a .204 batting average have prevented Brett Lawrie from putting up the numbers we’d expect of him.
  • Though he may be finding his groove now, Melky Cabrera hasn’t yet shown the top-of-the-lineup bat we were hoping for on a consistent basis.
  • Back in January, I was expecting Josh Thole to provide production slightly above replacement level as the Jays backup catcher. Instead Henry Blanco has been significantly below replacement level. With Thole hitting well in Buffalo this is looking more and more like a mistake that should be rectified.
  • Jose Bautista has rebounded sufficiently from a slow start to put up numbers in line with our lofty expectations for him.
  • As I’d hoped, Adam Lind has been used primarily against righties and has proven rather useful in that role. Meanwhile Rajai Davis was off to a good start before his injury.
  • J.P. Arencibia and Colby Rasmus have outperformed expectations somewhat.
  • Munenori Kawasaki has done an admirable job filling in for Jose Reyes, though I expect he’ll be hard pressed to keep up his offensive production.
  • Perhaps the most glaring revelation is just how good Jose Reyes was when he was in the lineup. Reyes’ 0.7 WAR trails only Jose Bautista, which is astonishing when you consider that Reyes only played in ten games! Obviously Reyes would not have been able to stay that hot over the full year, but it does give you a sense of how much impact he is capable of having on the diamond.

Alright then, how about the pitchers?

2013 Total Year ProjectionPro Rated 2013 Projection2013 Actual To DateDifference
13.94.72-2.7
Josh Johnson4.11.0(0.3)(1.3)
Mark Buehrle3.10.8(0.4)(1.2)
R.A. Dickey3.70.90.3(0.6)
Brandon Morrow3.30.80.2(0.6)
Ricky Romero10.3(0.3)(0.6)
J.A. Happ----
Aaron Laffey----
Chad Jenkins--0.10.1
Ramon Ortiz--0.70.7
Bullpen3.70.91.70.8
Injuries-5

While the offence has not performed as advertised it’s clear that the starting rotation is the biggest culprit when it comes to the team’s poor start.

  • Josh Johnson has battled injuries and ineffectiveness thus far.
  • Mark Buehrle pitched very well in Boston on the weekend, but it was his first really good start in a Jays uniform.
  • Dickey and Morrow have battled injuries and managed to cobble together some good starts, but neither has been as consistently dominant as they have in the past.
  • After two starts Ramon Ortiz has the highest WAR amongst Jays starters! Don’t expect this to continue, but it is still indicative of how poor the rest of the staff has been thus far.
  • Ironically, the Jays bullpen that was the subject of so much skepticism in the offseason has proven to be one of the team’s strengths to this point.

Obviously, all of the early season caveats apply when looking at these numbers, but it’s easy to see why the Jays are where they are. The good news is that it’s not unreasonable to expect improvement from some of the key players over the next 121 games. The question is whether those improvements will be enough to get them out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves.

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