Blue Jays 1, Orioles 2
I’m going to indulge in a bit of the rankest sort of what-iferry pokery blue-sky postulating.
What if—in addition to their stellar pitching (shout out to Liriano!), sparkling defense and solid bullpen—what if, I ask, the Blue Jays had an entirely average offense?
And what does average look like? Well, this year the average runs per game scored across both leagues is 4.27. In 2016 it was 4.48… 2015, 4.25… 2014, 4.07…
2014, as it turns out, was the lowest runs per game average in the last twenty years. In fact, from 1997 to present the average number of runs scored per game by all teams in the majors is 4.59.
So let’s pretend, for a moment, that the Blue Jays were a slightly-below average team this year, offensively. (At the moment, of course, they are the worst offensive team in the majors, scoring just 2.67 runs per game.) Let’s pretend that they were scoring just 4.0 runs per game. That would put them dead even with the Twins and Rays (4.00), just ahead of Cleveland (3.89) and just behind the Tigers and Cubs (4.11). Now let’s extend this exercise in imaginatively re-engineering this dismal season just a little bit, and assume that they’ve scored their four runs at an even pace. Heck, let’s make it as even as can be: let’s pretend they’ve scored four runs in each and every game.
If this were the case—and I know that it’s not, and yes if my grandmother had wheels she’d be a wagon—but if it were the case then the Jays’ record would be six and three and they’d be leading the American League East with a .667 win-loss ratio (cause that stat is not and never has been a percentage, but I digress).
Now, keep in mind, that’s the result if the Jays were a slightly below average offensive team; this incredible turn-around in their fortunes is accomplished by their managing to score just one or two runs more per game: that’s just one more hit with runners in scoring position; just one more home run with or without anyone on base; just one of the struggling Travis, Bautista or Martin not to have been struggling. Everything else could have stayed or been exactly the same and the results so far this season would be dramatically different.
That’s how close they are to turning things around. Just one or two more hits per game; just one key guy figuring it out at the plate, and they’d be all they need to be to win it all…
Which is why there was such optimism before the season, and why there’s still abundant reason for hope now.