Disappointment number one is the Toronto Blue Jays. A week before Thanksgiving Toronto conducted a trade with Miami receiving Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonafacio for prospects. Add to that the acquisition of R.A. Dickey, the NL Cy Young Winner in 2012, from the Mets. It seemed to be a no-brainer to make the Toronto Blue Jays the favorite to finish first in the AL East. As we look at the standings after Toronto’s first 40 games they have a 16-24 record, 9.5 games behind the league leading Yankees. The question is: What went wrong? So far, the deal with Miami just hasn’t worked out as advertised. First, Jose Reyes slid into second base, badly spraining his ankle in the tenth game. He will return after the All-Star game. At the time of his injury his batting average was .395. Josh Johnson was put on the DL after just 4 starts. For those 4 starts his ERA was 6.86. Mark Buehrle has started 8 games with a 1-2 record and an inflated ERA of 6.19. Emilio Bonafacio is currently batting .198. Besides Johnson and Buehrle, the rest of the expected starting pitchers haven’t excelled to say the least. Brandon Morrow, coming off a great 2012 campaign with Toronto, has just 1 win with an ERA of 4.69 in 2013. J.A. Happ and R.A. Dickey have respective ERAs of 4.91 and 4.88. The starter pitchers have a combined 7-12 record. Besides the pitching disaster, some of last year’s positional players have started off slowly this year. Brett Lawrie is batting just .200. Edwin Encarnacion, after batting .280 in 2012, is batting just .238. Currently they rank third in the majors with 51 home runs and a 12th best slugging percentage of .412. Unfortunately, no one is getting on base. Their team AVG of .243 and OBP of.307 both rank 23rd in the majors. Their combined pitchers, allowing the second most runs in the majors, have a team ERA of 4.79 ranking them 29th.
With a lineup featuring Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout the LA Angels should be much better than their 15-25 record. Hamilton is off to a slow start, hitting just .214 with only 5 HRs and 12 RBIs. Pujols is off to another slow start with statistics of 248/.328/.418 compared with his lifetime statistics of .323/.413/.634. Trumbo, Hamilton and Trout rank in the top 20 in strike-outs in the AL. Assuming these 4 stars revert to their past performances which I expect, the real problem is the pitching staff. The Angels lost ace Jered Weaver in only his second start of the season to a broken bone in his non-pitching elbow. At this point in the season, the Angel pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.77 which ranks them 29th in the majors.
As for the Dodgers, they currently sit in the basement of the NL West with a 17-22 record. The Dodger pitchers rank 15th in ERA. The loss of Greinke on April 11 was a serious blow. He is back now. Kershaw has excelled with a 4-2 record and an ERA of 1.40. Beckett has been a huge disappointment with a 0-5 record and an ERA of 5.19. The Dodger offense really suffered with the loss of shortstop Hanley Ramirez who has appeared in just 4 games. Unlike the Blue Jays, the Dodgers have been getting on base but their problem is a lack of power. The Dodgers rank 28th in HRs and 29th in slugging. Carl Crawford leads them in HRs with a meager 5. Ethier, Kemp and Gonzalez have a total of 8 home runs between them. To get back in the playoff hunt the Dodgers need: 1. Ramirez and Greinke to stay healthy and put up the numbers they are most capable of doing and 2. Kemp, Ethier and Gonzalez to come alive and be the power producing players they have been in the past.
The good news for these three teams is there are still 120 games left and each of them has the potential of getting the new second wild card.
Stan? Question for you. Has a team ever had a “call up rookie” that was not a pitcher, such as LA’s Puig, make such an impact on a team during the regular season?
August 18, 2013 06:39:25
|stan the stats man said…
Randomness of course is always a factor. However, as the number of games increases randomness is replaced by regression toward the true mean. If they continue to underperform it might be the case that the entire team as constructed in not as good as the individual pieces (players). As Coach Parcells said you are what your records says you are.
May 27, 2013 08:11:10
Can’t what happened to Toronto just be randomness? Good teams have bad years all the time. And Toronto was depending on some-upside but highly volatile players — like Reyes and a young Brett Lawrie. I wonder what the statistical likelihood is of a team expected to be this good (~90 wins in a tough division) being this bad so far? I’m sure it’s not a 50-1 shot, or anything that unlikely. If they stay bad all year… well that would mean more I suppose.
May 26, 2013 07:33:11