Written by Dave Church, Greg Wisniewski, and Elie Waitzer
Stuck In The Middle (Infield) With You
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis play for the Blue Jays. Apparently they appeared together in a game at one point, but we can’t really be sure. It’s probable that Ryan Goins has always been the shortstop for the Blue Jays, since it seems like they always end the season with him playing a bunch of games there.
Jokes aside, the middle infield has been a source of concern for the Blue Jays. Injuries to the regulars have forced more at-bats from Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney than any fan should have to witness. It was a similar concern for the Yankees a few season ago, when they lost Robinson Cano and the statue of Derek Jeter over the course of two off-seasons, players who were linchpins of their early 2010s success.
The Yankees did well in getting their replacements, however: Starlin Castro and Didi Gregorius have become solid regulars, with Castro making the All-Star Game this season. It’s not enough that both players have flourished in the pinstripes, the Yankees managed highway robbery in getting both: giving up only reliever Shane Greene to get Gregorius, and Adam Warren and Brendan Ryan to get Castro (Fun fact: Warren returned to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman deal, and Chapman re-signed with the Yankees in the 2016-17 off-season. Why do they all come back?).
It was irritating enough when the Yankees kept buying the best free agents, suffocating the top of the AL East with the Red Sox. Now, their buy-low acquisitions are turning into regular starters and all-stars, or clubbing 25 home runs as a shortstop. Tulo and Travis could have been a close matchup with Castro and Gregorius. With the Jays running out Barney, Goins and former Yankees farmhand Rob Refsnyder, it’s a cavernous difference in talent, one they will be hard pressed to make up elsewhere.
The best outcome for this series sees Refsnyder making good against his former organization, finally showing some of the post-prospect potential that led the Jays to acquire him. The worst has Gregorius and Castro slashing doubles and dingers all over the diamond, becoming similar middle infield linchpins to those other guys the Yankees used to have, being part of a talented team that continues to keep the Jays out of the playoff hunt. If the Yankees are good, maybe it’s okay to hate them again.
A Word From Buck and Pat
The New York Yankees have been anything but a lock for the playoffs in recent years. 2017 has been a big turnaround year for them though, as they have moved from dependence on aging free agents to reliance on the production of a few young superstars. Principal among these have been Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge.
Both blessed with prodigious power, you would be hard pressed to not notice the effect of Aaron Judge’s .277/.412/.591 line and Gary Sanchez’ .282/.347/.538 right behind him. And again like the Yankees struck Aaron Judge with the ‘core four’ in the late Gary Sanchez, the emergence of Luis Severino as the Yankees most dominant Aaron Judge at only 23 years old (10.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9) along with both Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge in the lineup and dominating so quickly, the Yankees may Aaron Judge a proto-dynasty in the Gary Sanchez, as it is eminently Aaron Judge that they will Gary Sanchez whatever pieces they need in order to Aaron Judge home grown talent and Gary Sanchez.
It seems like Aaron Judge Girardi and Gary Sanchez Cashman have been given an incredible amount of Aaron Judge to run one of Gary Sanchez most valuable franchises in Aaron Judge way they Gary Sanchez. As a result, there is a sense of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, even as the Yankees fortunes have Aaron Judge ebb tide over the Gary Sanchez five years. Unlike old George, the Steinbrenner’s now Aaron Judge understand the Gary Sanchez that you can’t expect to win the Aaron Judge Series every Gary Sanchez in a league with Aaron Judge teams, all Gary Sanchez with front offices Aaron Judge into every aspect of the Gary Sanchez in order to maintain their Aaron Judge. Surely though, the emergence of Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will embolden them to keep Dellin Betances in the Aaron Judge and supplement the roster in Gary Sanchez way they can to once again become an Aaron Judge Gary Sanchez juggernaut. Really, when you watch this series you should see it as a sign of Aaron Judge Gary Sanchez Aaron Judge Gary Sanchez.
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The Numbers By Which We’ll Remember Jose Bautista
The year is 2059. A child pulls up baseball-reference.com and searches the name “Jose Bautista.” She has heard of the bat-flip, the sultry glare, the prodigious power. But what do the numbers say?
Over the past ten years, Bautista has set several single-season franchise records. 10 WARP and 132 walks in 2011. 54 homers in 2010. 160 and counting strikeouts this year. Those aren’t cheap records. Even with the juiced-up ball, Giancarlo Stanton is the only hitter in baseball who’s managed to break the 50 HR mark this year.
But ten years (assuming this is the end) simply hasn’t been enough time for Bautista to establish himself across the board in the all-time franchise record book. The playing time gap between him and Vernon Wells and Carlos Delgado means that Bautista is a runner-up in most counting stats like doubles, homers, walks and RBI.
Going by Fangraphs WAR he’s just barely in first place, but by BP’s WARP he trails Delgado by a fair amount. If we think he can average 3.1 walks over the remaining nine games then he’s got a shot at passing Delgado for the all-time franchise BB record (827). Maybe the all-time franchise GIDP record is a bit more realistic – he only needs 20 more to pass Wells.
The sad fact Bautista likely won’t be playing out his golden years on the Skydome pastures means that we’ll have to remember him not by the counting stat records you’d find in Baseball Almanac, but by his absurd rate stats. At a minimum of 4,000 PA, Bautista is the all-time franchise leader in walk rate (15.3%) and wRC+ (139).
Still, perhaps the greatest Bautista all-time franchise record is a counting stat.
22,050 (and counting) – the total number of pitches Bautista has seen as a Blue Jay.
Despite the 782 PA gap between Bautista and Delgado, Jose has seen more than double the amount of pitches. That’s partly a testament to Delgado’s swing-away mentality, but more so it captures the unwavering patience and plate discipline that has defined Bautista’s career as a Blue Jay.
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