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The Toronto Blue Jays are off to not only the worst start in all of Major League Baseball, but the worst in their franchise history. After a brutal road trip to kick off the 2017 campaign, the hope was that returning to the Rogers Centre, and the friendly Toronto crowd would spark a win streak. Well, that didn’t happen. The club sits 1-9 and quickly find themselves in a 6.5 game deficit in what will be a very tough division.
For a team with designs on appearing in the postseason for the third season in a row, this start complicates things. Basically, it has created an uphill battle of epic proportions. Things seem so bleak that many have written off the team’s season already. . . on April 15.
Setting aside the obvious ridiculousness of such a proclamation – there are still over five months of baseball to play – it is worth noting that this recent showing is simply just not the Toronto Blue Jays we all know. This is not the team management assembled. Simply put, they are much better than this. What we are bearing witness to is some sort of alternate reality version of the Blue Jays.
Looking at WAR for individual players, we get an idea of just how messed up things are. For example. According to Baseball Reference, Darwin Barney has accumulated a WAR of 0.4 in the early goings. He has seen game action to the tune of 11 plate appearances. In that super small sample, he has struck for a line of .400/.455/.400 while chipping in 22 innings at third base and a sprinkling of innings at second and left field.
The bench guy, who is making under $3M this season is sitting in 3rd place in WAR on a team of All-Stars.
To put this into context, let’s take a look at how he stacks up against others on the squad. Barney has a higher WAR than 6 of his teammates; guys who are expected to play a much more significant role than he this season.
As good as his bat looks at times this season, Troy Tulowitzki has managed a WAR of 0.2. He’s done so by playing artistically beautiful defense and driving in 9 runs. Russell Martin has been struggling mightily at the plate, but with his defense, he has managed a WAR of 0.1. Kendrys Morales endeared himself with a grand slam already this season. He picks up his share of hits here and there, but has totaled himself a 0 WAR.
But, wait! There’s more. Jose Bautista and his $18M deal have put forth a -0.2 WAR. Joey Bats just doesn’t seem to be in his usual groove to start this season. Whether you think this is because of age related regression, it would be difficult to argue that a drop off of this magnitude was expected. Devon Travis has given a -0.6 WAR effort and seen himself fall to the bottom of the batting order, which is a far cry from what many had expected of him a month ago. And, new guy, Steve Pearce, has been worth -0.2 WAR, which is not what he was signed for, obviously.
If we add all this up, we get Darwin Barney (0.4 WAR) with a higher value than 6 other, more significant, contributors. Their combined WAR of -0.7 is just unreal. Even if they have disappointing seasons, there is no way we can reasonably expect that these 6 players will continue to struggle this badly. We are talking about All Stars, here. We’re talking about guys who have won in the past. We’re talking about proven talent. Tulo has a career 44 WAR, Bautista: 34.6, Martin: 35.
Yes, people are frustrated. Yes, the Toronto Blue Jays have been a disappointment thus far. Yes, they have created a monster hole for themselves in a tough division. But, there is no way that we can suggest that the season is over. There is no way we can even trust the results of the first 10 games of the season. There are players that are just too good to be putting up such low values. We cannot reasonably expect that Darwin Barney will outperform all of these guys. It is just not logical. In short, this season is a struggle, but the struggle is not real.
Shaun Doyle (@JaysfromCouch) is the Founder and Senior Editor of Jays From the Couch, your source for Quality Blue Jays News, Analysis and more!
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