We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes: Ruminations on Sliding into the All-Star Break

After the Jays' 6-1 trouncing of the Philadelphia Phillies on June 26, less than 3 weeks ago, the Jays sat at 41-34, tied for the wild card.  Much more significantly, the Jays had the third-best run differential in the American League, and 4th best in all of baseball.  Yep, that's right, less than 3 weeks ago the Jays were the 4th-best team in baseball. And that is all after the Jays' 9-game losing streak.

Since that game, of course, the Jays have been awful, going 3-12, worst in the AL.  All the Jays' competitors have had winning records since then (often at the Jays' expense), with the Yankees leading the way at 10-5. 

So, you already know that all this "throw in the towel" stuff is based on less than three bad weeks - 15 games in fact. If the Jays were still tied for the wild card, or close, we wouldn't be talking about throwing in the towel.  But here's what you might not know:  other than a 10-0 trouncing to the Phillies on June 27th and two weak-tea 4-1 losses to Tampa Bay, every one of those losses has been by 1 or 2 runs.  Since the Jays began their road trip, a bleak 2-8 affair against three AL East teams, every single loss has been by 1 or 2 runs.  The Jays have lost in a lot of different ways over those past 10 games, but one thing remains in common - play those games again and a different outcome in several of them is likely.  Now, of course, you have to win those games - that's what separates a good team from a mediocre one.  But the Jays aren't a .200 team (past road trip) or a .350 (since June 26th) team and have lost a lot more of them than they likely will as the season progresses.

Now, I am not arguing that the Jays are going to come back and win the division this season.  That's not likely, though certainly not impossible - they have simply lost too many games (and too many pitchers), and the strength of the competition is too great.  Nor do I think they will necessarily make the playoffs.  But the truth is, the past few weeks have been more a rash of bad luck than anything else.  The team's pythagorean record, still 4 games over .500, shows that.  The Jays haven't been playing well recently, but they haven't been playing as poorly as their record over that time would have you believe.  And, in truth, we're talking about a few bad weeks after a mostly excellent first half. 

The Jays have a pretty decent team and they should continue to play entertaining baseball and win games from here on out.  The young pitchers like Ricky Romeo and Brett Cecil have shown a lot and young hitters Aaron Hill and Adam Lind are having excellent seasons at the plate.  Shaun Marcum may be back soon, and Travis Snider is hitting well at AAA and could be called up in the next few weeks.  Roy Halladay could well stick around and he's reason enough to watch - if not, you don't want to miss his last starts as a Jay.  Stick around, it should be a fun second half.

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