By Matt Antaya
Last week’s “Keep Calm and Carry On” advice might better have been saved for this week’s edition. The Jays’ unstoppable offense has fallen silent over the past week – and the skeptics have embraced the opportunity to say ‘we knew it all along’. The Jays managed to win only one game each against St Louis and Minnesota, and have now lost their first of a four-game series to Baltimore. But the question most Jays’ fans want answered is: what type of team should they expect to see moving forward? A team that can’t be beat or a team that can’t seem to score a run?
The answer is neither.
The Jays played a month of May that was off the charts. They were on pace to win 135 games, and that’s simply not sustainable. The starting rotation was playing beyond all reasonable expectation, and the offense was the most electric in all of baseball. A regression was inevitable.
By the same token, we should not expect that this past week’s lack of offense is the new norm. There are simply too many dangerous hitters in this lineup. It’s natural to want to analyze what went wrong when a team loses its momentum, but we must give credit when credit is due – the Jays have faced some very effective pitching this past week, and those pitchers got the job done. And so, a handful of battles were lost, but the war is far from over.
Top pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez has been promoted to the AAA Buffalo Bisons. He began the season pitching for the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats and earned a 3.82 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 40 walks in 66 innings pitched. While these aren’t necessarily bad numbers, they’re not ‘this kid needs to be promoted’ numbers either. So what is happening here? Experts have discussed two possible scenarios.
In scenario one, the Jays wish to showcase Sanchez at a more competitive level in order to raise his trade value. The Jays know they will have to give up a prospect at the trade deadline to get a front-end starting pitcher in return. But inquiries thus far have suggested teams will request both Sanchez and Marcus Stroman (who is already playing an important role in the rotation for the Jays). As we’ve suggested in previous weeks, both of these prospects together is too high a cost to pay. Perhaps in raising Sanchez’s value, the Jays can negotiate without needing to include Stroman in the deal.
In scenario two, the Jays want a real look at Sanchez and his abilities. Under ideal circumstances, the Jays would prefer to leave Sanchez to develop at a moderate pace, working his way through the minors – only reaching the major league club when he is ready perhaps 1-2 years from now. However, the Jays need an impact player now. Though it’s not the development program the Jays would prefer, Sanchez may be given a fast-track to the major leagues and asked to contribute now. This is a gamble because should Sanchez prove unready, not only have they disrupted his logical development, but they’ve also lowered his trade value to other clubs. On the flipside, should Sanchez deliver on his potential, the impact may be felt not only this year but for years to come.
Buzzword of the Week: “500 Ball”
When you hear that a team is playing “500 Ball” it means that their winning percentage is roughly 0.500 – and before you tune out, because there might be math involved (no, god no), keep calm. We’ll explain.
A team’s winning percentage is the number of games they’ve won over the total number of games they’ve played. Nothing cryptic. This is essentially the same as us saying we got 5 out of 10 questions correct on our geography quiz. Except instead of saying we got 50% correct, a team would say they’re “playing 500 ball” (technically, it’s 0.500 for anyone reaching for their calculator). When a team’s winning percentage is exactly .500 it means they’ve won the same number of games as they’ve lost.
When discussing a team’s performance, baseball analysts tend to distinguish those teams playing ‘above 500’ from the teams playing ‘below 500’.
The Blue Jays are currently 39-29, so we’d say “they’re 10 games above 500.” (Indeed, our staff math nerds confirm this is a winning percentage of 0.574). As long as the Jays keep winning more than they lose, they’ll be ‘buyers’ rather than ‘sellers’ at the trade deadline.
So what have you learned?
The Jays have lost several games recently, but those fleeing the bandwagon may soon regret it. Top prospect Aaron Sanchez was promoted to Buffalo, and we may get to see him in Toronto sooner than expected. The Jays play division rival Baltimore over the weekend and should make every attempt to revive their potent offense – should they intend to remain 10 games over 500 and in control of the AL East.
Until then, we’ll keep crunching the numbers and be back here next Friday with more mathematical formulae on the best damn (and only) ball club north of the border.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)