In addition to winning their second series of the season over the weekend (and in Tampa Bay no less!) the Jays passed an important, if somewhat arbitrary, milestone: game thirty. It’s an old saw that you can only really begin to start taking stock of where your team is at after thirty games have been played, and at the moment, well, the Blue Jays are kind of where they’ve been all year: between a rock and something just a little less rock-like. Eleven and twenty is…not good. It’s not as bad as it could be, but still…not good. Are the Jays doomed? Are they still in this thing? Are these questions we should even be asking?
I dunno. But here’s the transcript of a conversation I had this morning with my eleven year old son that I believe pretty much sums up the interior life of every Blue Jays fan these days:
Son: Daddy, can the Blue Jays make the playoffs this year?
Me: Well, I’m not sure. They could but it’s going to be really hard for them to–
Son: Don’t say that! They can do it.
Me: Well, I didn’t say they couldn’t, it’s too early in the season to be sure. I’m just saying that they started really badly–
Son: But they’re playing really well right now.
Me: I don’t know if they’re playing really well. Bautista’s looking very old all over again and Travis isn’t really hitting yet; the pitching is a mess–
Son: They’re all injured, though. It doesn’t count. Who’s even in the lineup right now, anyway? They’re not even really the Jays. Tulowitzki and Donaldson are going to come back and they’ll be good again.
Me: Martin’s injured too now, you know.
Son: He’s no loss, he wasn’t hitting well anyway.
Me: Actually, he was coming round and he’s always good behind the plate. They were really depending on him.
Son: Doesn’t matter. They’re winning. They can still make the playoffs and you shouldn’t say they can’t.
Me: I didn’t say they couldn’t, I just said it would be har–
Son: They can make it.
Me: Maybe, but–
Son: They can.
Son: They can, Daddy!
And then it kind of went on like this for a while.
And: who the man? Kendrys, Kendrys is the man.
Here’s a statistically insignificant point which I am going to claim is significant:
In games where Kendrys Morales homers the Blue Jays are three and two. In games in which he does not hit a dinger they are eight and eighteen. Put another way, when Kendrys homers the Jays have a .600 win ratio, and when he doesn’t they’re playing .444.
By way of comparison, when we look at the team’s next-best tater-hitter, Justin Smoak (with five so far this year, compared to Kendrys’ six, which added together is still less than Aaron Judge but we’re not going to talk about that right now) the Jays are two and three (.400) in games in which Smoak finds the seats.
Things get even more interesting when you look at the RBI for each, with Smoak at seventeen and Morales at twenty. So while Morales does have a slight edge in RBI, meaning we could perhaps chalk up his greater win ratio to there simply being more men on base for Morales than for Smoak, I’m not sure that’s going to fly given that the difference is just three runs.
The fact is, when Morales hits home runs, the Jays tend to win games. So this really isn’t rocket science, is it? What should Morales be trying to do in almost every single one of his at bats, particularly with men on base?
That’s right: swing, baby, swing!