Blue Jays Lineup Changes that Gibbons Should Make (but won’t)
UPDATES! : Long time no talk! It is officially the first day of summer AND my official first day of summer as I have completed yet another year of school (and round of exams), so now I have two straight months to talk baseball! My plan for this summer is to post daily on this blog, as well as post a few game recaps/series previews! Now let’s get to today’s blog post…
Josh Donaldson made some (VERY) interesting comments last night about the 3/4 hitters on the current Toronto Blue Jays team (which you can read below). Tim and Sid had a very good segment in their show featuring his comments and their own opinions on it (which I agree with all of them on), and you can watch it here. To summarize, Sid thought it was fantastic that a player as well respected and successful as Donaldson finally came out and said what we have been talking about for the past few months (along with the past two seasons). While John Gibbons has said previously, “We are a home run hitting team…”, it doesn’t sound like Donaldson wants to be part of one. He wants to be a part of a well-rounded team, who can hit for singles-triples and power.
The comments that are being discussed by Blue Jays fans and Toronto media are as follows. This is from Steve Buffery‘s piece:
“I would say for the most part, our 3 and 4 guys, they’re not getting on base enough,” said Donaldson. “Bautista’s known to be around .380 to .400 on-base and I don’t think he’s anywhere near that right now (.337),” said Donaldson. “I’m not sure Kendrys Morales’ on base is (.307), but I can’t imagine that he’s a very high on-base guy (career .331). So the fact of it is, if those guys weren’t getting on base, then he (Smoak) is going to hit solo home runs. With that being said, I think the tougher question is, where would he need to hit in order to have guys on base? I think that’s what we need to (consider).”
Honestly, Donaldson could not be more correct. And while his comments are not exactly the “root” of the issues, there is something to be said about Bautista and Morales’ current season numbers, compared to their career numbers.
This past month (especially the past few losses), have reminded me of the September 2016 Blue Jays. This team is basically compiled of those exact same players, and they are playing like there old September 2016 self. The Blue Jays got very lucky that over the last few games of the season they pulled it together to start another epic playoff run, but it didn’t result in the ultimate goal. Thus resulting in John Gibbons to keep the lineup exactly how it had played throughout the majority of the 2016 season.
This season however, has been very different. As you are aware, the Jays got off to a horrific 2-11 start, but May was a wonderful month for the Jays who climbed back through all of the injuries and somehow made there way to almost .500.
And here we are on June 21, at the exact same spot. While April was horrific, June has been different, as the Blue Jays have had EIGHT different occasions to claim .500, but have failed to come through in every single opportunity. Whether it has been poor pitching starts, or the offence not showing up, John Gibbons (and the majority of the media) have made an excuse as to why they have yet to reach the .500 mark each time they fail to do so. The fans now are starting to see this, and are getting very antsy and annoyed with how a team so good, can be playing this badly. What few forget to realize, is that the Jays are currently only one game behind for a second wild card spot (but a stat like that should not be taken seriously in June).
So the question comes to this… what can the Jays do to finally claim the .500 mark, and hopefully start playing above it?
I think it starts off with lineup changes, as the offence in general has been the major root of the problem from the very beginning of April.
Thankfully for the Blue Jays, Steve Pearce has come back from the DL and has not disappointed. He has been exceptional against LHP, and I would love to see Gibbons take a shot at putting Pearce in the leadoff role. He is able to get on base in very clutch situations, so it would be interesting to see how he would do with no pressure on him to start off the game.
Josh Donaldson is the best overall player on the current Blue Jays team. Therefore, I would leave him at the second spot in the lineup.
While Justin Smoak has locked up his spot fifth in the batting order, I believe he would be a fantastic fit for the third spot in the lineup. Hopefully when he bats, there will be no out and two on (or with the Blue Jays leading either 1-0 or 2-0), resulting in him driving in the runner on second or third.
José Bautista and Kendrys Morales have both been key contributors over the past three months, but both of them are having a really hard time playing small ball and getting on base. Bautista and Morales would be a great 4/5 hitter combo, and I can see them being more successful a bit lower in the lineup.
Russel Martin is normally around the sixth spot in the lineup, and I would leave him in the spot. He is having a mediocre year, and has seemed to be getting a bit better as the year has been going on.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I am not the biggest fan of SS Troy Tulowitzki. Although people claim he is a “future Hall of Fame” star, I cannot see how that could happen with the way he has been playing for the Blue Jays. Tulo has never hit to his expectations since being traded to the Jays in 2015, and in 2017, he has not looked good. However, Tulowitzki is a veteran hitter who has been around the game for a long time. I would place him in the seventh spot.
The Blue Jays current leadoff hitter, Kevin Pillar, has looked absolutely terrible ever since his adjustment phase ended in April. After the incident to end off May, Pillar has been batting .159, taking his batting average down to .246… a whopping 54 points since the middle of May! However, Pillar is a great defensive player and the Jays can ill afford him to take a game off (although that may be good for him in the coming weeks if he hasn’t gone back to his adjusted outlook). I would place him eighth in the lineup.
Lastly, I would fill the ninth spot with the second base replacement for Devon Trais. Whether that may be Ryan Goins or Darwin Barney, with the occasional Chris Coghlan appearance.
As always, I would love to hear your opinions on this blog post, as well as what changes you would make to the team (if any!).