1 Year Later: Some of Our Favourites

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Roughly one year ago, we launched the new Blue Jays Plus with the goal of offering various unique perspectives on both the game of baseball and the Blue Jays in particular. This past year we’ve done our best to accomplish that, and provide you, the reader, with some great Jays content! What you’ll see after the jump are some of our favourite articles of the past year. This post will remain in the sidebar and will be updated as time goes on. We hope you enjoyed the first of many years to come writing about the Blue Jays.

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Breaking: Blue Jays Acquire John Mayberry Jr.

So, this is some fun news for a Sunday night, right? John Mayberry Jr.!

Alex Anthopoulos, with hours left before the August 31st trade deadline, has traded minor league third baseman Gustavo Pierre to the Philadelphia Phillies for John Mayberry Jr. Matt Gelb was the first one on my timeline with the news.

So this move is pretty awesome…If Mayberry is going to platoon at DH with Adam Lind for the rest of 2014, and for however long the Blue Jays decide to hold onto Lind for. Mayberry, for his career, owns a nifty little 130 wRC+ against left handers, which will go beautifully with Lind’s numbers against right handers. Mayberry had his best season in 2011, when he was worth 2.3 wins for the Phillies in 104 games played. He did that by putting up big numbers with the bat, including a .240 ISO and a .368 wOBA. Since then, his bat has suffered quite a bit, but he is taking more walks this year than ever before, and has lowered his K% by a couple of points as well. 

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Scoops at First-August 29th

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The goal of every blog on the internet is to deliver the best content to you, the reader, at all times. However, in the blogosphere, many articles get written that might get missed and lost in the shuffle of the eternally updating internet. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some of the best articles of the last week, let’s get to some baseball links!

Blue Jays Links
Drew Fairservice of FanGraphs has a solid piece on Colby Rasmus, and trying to figure out who he is and will be as a hitter. He’s been extremely inconsistent as a hitter, from being a star in 2010 and 2013 to hitting rock bottom in 2011, 2012 and 2014. He’s a free agent after this year, and Drew tries to figure out the best comp for him. He compares him to six guys, and he’s similar to all them, but in different ways. With his performance being so veering, it’s very difficult to project him and comp him, but the best comp looks like it would be Michael Saunders, as Drew notes.  It’s difficult to know whether Rasmus and the Jays will part ways, as it depends on if Alex Anthopoulos wants to stay internal for his outfield next year, or look for reinforcements on the free agent market. Melky Cabrera seems like a preference over Rasmus, which makes it even unlikelier that he’ll stay, unless AA really believes in Rasmus’ ability to produce(consistently) and stay healthy. We’ll see.

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Under The Hood: Brett Lawrie and Oblique Injuries

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On August 5th Brett Lawrie made his return to the Blue Jays lineup after missing 36 games with a broken finger, but before he could take his second at bat, he was removed from the game. Fans hearts’ were crushed yet again. He had suffered an oblique injury; the third in his short career and second in as many seasons. Since Lawrie hit the DL for a second time, I’ve stumbled across hundreds of conversations regarding the obliques and theories around his injury history. What I’ve discovered is that there is a vast misconception about oblique injuries, in how they occur, and how they can be prevented through training.

The “core” has multiple responsibilities. It not only controls all movement in the body, it also protects the hips, spine, shoulders etc. from injury. Additionally, it acts as an absorber of tremendous forces. When a player is swinging and the front leg lands, it halts the tremendous rotational velocity in the hips. The hips rotate at an incredible 714 degrees per second. Lawrie is both a right-handed hitter and thrower. We all know that he hurls his body with full force into almost everything he does. Let’s consider the extreme internal rotation during a swing such as Lawrie’s.

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Scoops at First- August 22nd

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The goal of every blog on the internet is to deliver the best content to you, the reader, at all times. However, in the blogosphere, many articles get written that might get missed and lost in the shuffle of the eternally updating internet. With that in mind, I’ve compiled some of the best articles of the last week, let’s get to some baseball links!

Blue Jays Links
Marc Normandin of SB Nation looks at the Jays horrendous month of August ( the losing streak ended on Wednedsay, finally), and how it was the worst time to start losing, as they were right in the thick of the second wildcard race. Though a comeback isn’t impossible, the team has itself dug a pretty big hole, and with their current crop of players, it won’t be easy, to say the least. Through Thursday, FanGraphs gives the Jays a 7.3% chance to make the playoffs. In other words, they have a very tough road to climb.

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An In Depth Look at Batted Balls and the Blue Jays Pitching Staff

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In the offseason I wrote a pair of pieces that reviewed the 2013 Blue Jays pitching staff using the advanced metric bbFIP.  If you click either of the two links above, you’ll get a good picture of what bbFIP is and why it’s important, but I’ve also included a brief synopsis of what bbFIP includes…taken from the two aforementioned pieces.

For those of you who have read my work before, either at runsbattedout.com or Halo Hangout on the Fansided network, you are likely aware of bbFIP and the methodology behind the new metric. For those of you who aren’t aware, here is a link to a more detailed breakdown. For now, here is a simple breakdown: bbFIP is predicated on the belief that not all pitchers induce the same type of contact that other fielding independent pitching metrics tend to infer by regressing BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play). Regular FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) looks at unintentional free bases, strikeouts and homeruns to evaluate a pitchers performance, bbFIP uses 6: unintentional free bases, strikeouts, groundballs, linedrives, flyballs and popups.

Fairly obvious is that strikeouts and popups are good results and that free bases and linedrives are bad results. In the middle are groundballs and flyballs. These are taken into account, but not with the same severity as the previously mentioned results, with groundballs being good and flyballs being evil. The one problem with bbFIP is that even though groundballs and flyballs are viewed correctly in a general sense, it doesn’t work perfectly for all pitchers. Pitchers who induce lots of lazy flyballs are penalized for something that isn’t necessarily a bad result, while the inverse is true for groundballs. With groundballs, some pitchers get good credit for hard hit groundballs that actually go for hits. Unfortunately, at the moment there is no good way around this as the public does not have access to Hit F/x.

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One At-Bat: Brandon Kintzler vs. Jose Bautista

Now that the Blue Jays have won a game, and did so in comeback fashion, I feel like it’s time for another One At-Bat. If you would like to relive one of the many losses of the last two weeks, go read somebody else’s column. I’m here to talk about a time when things turned out the way I wanted, the rest of the week can be dismissed.

This week’s one at bat comes to us from the 6th inning of Wednesday August 20th. Is it August 20th already? Crap. Okay, well, this confrontation is from the last game of an abysmal road trip, and the Jays are trying to salvage a little pride or something. The previous night the Blue Jay offense managed two hits. In nine innings. Arf.

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The Blue Jays, Maple Leafs, & Adapting to Analytics in Sports

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Today, the Toronto Maple Leafs, long heralded as the Philadelphia Phillies of the National Hockey League when it comes to advanced statistics, by me at least, created a brand new analytics department, hiring 3 prominent advanced stats analysts from the interwebs. This series of moves comes almost one month after the Leafs hired Kyle Dubas, also known as a big #FancyStats guy, to be an AGM for the team. Don’t close this page yet, because this really isn’t about the Leafs. What I am writing about is how the Leafs, led by their new president Brendan Shanahan, have been able to adapt to the times. Instead of sticking to their old, pre-historic ways, they have basically cornered the market on advanced hockey statistics personnel. Do they still have a terrible GM and coach in Dave Nonis and Randy Carlye? Yes. But now they also have a foundation on which they can build a winning team the right way. This brings me to the Blue Jays…

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Has There Really Been a “Philosophy Change” in the Blue Jays Farm System?

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On Saturday, an article was published on JaysJournal by Ryan Mueller that talked about how the Blue Jays have been more aggressive with their minor league promotions this season, and came to the conclusion that there has been a shift in the philosophy change of the organization. Although the article was very well written, I tend to disagree with that conclusion.

Mueller states the following as the reason why Alex Anthopoulous and Co. have been so aggressive with the players this season:

I believe something WAS indeed said to Alex during trade talks that’s caused him to aggressively promote some of the Jays higher ceiling pitchers since.

Why would we assume that is the truth, when there are much clearer reasons as to why the prospects were promoted?

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Maybe Some of us Need a Break Too

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A little after the halfway point in the baseball season, baseball sends ninety percent of its players home. The other ten percent or so all travel to one MLB city as a showcase for the best the game has to offer. Those players are happy to be there, sure, but those who are left out, the journeymen and rookies, they are happy, too. In the middle of a stretch of six or seven months of work, it is their only chance to get consecutive days off. Announcers will joke around and say that the All-Star break ‘feels like a two week vacation’ for a player.

This makes sense to me. The daily grind of batting practice, fielding drills, bullpen sessions, time in the video room, and then three hours of intense concentration is bound to have its effects. Fatigue, lethargy, a loss of passion and desire. Leaving out the physical pounding of the everyday athlete, (American football offers a week or two of recovery after every ‘performance’), the mental monotony takes it’s toll. A vacation is a great way to break it up and come back refreshed.

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