FanPost

Making Sense of the Torturous Homestand

This homestand against the Cardinals and the Twins was a pain to watch. While there was that walk-off win (we all like walk-offs), most of the time we were treated to plates full of LOBsters while our opponents seemed to have back-to-back home runs every game. I think a lot of frustration came from the fact that the Jays seemed helpless at the plate while their pitching staff also seemed to suffer a mild meltdown. Since I was starting to freak out (despite SSS) and had to look at some numbers to calm down, I figured that I might as well write a fanpost recapping this experience and try to see where the Blue Jays are headed next.

A good way to reflect on the performance from the last two series is to compare them against the performance during the incredible 20-4 run. Were the Blue Jays' bats simply unlucky in the past two series, or are they regressing to the mean from an unusually lucky May? Can we still expect the pitching staff to perform as well as they did during the win streak, or are they showing their true colours now? I will focus on BABIP and LOB%, since I was originally concerned with the Blue Jays not getting hits and the opponents getting on base with bloop singles. I will also look at K% and BB% to see whether there is something obviously wrong with the batting or pitching.

Going back to 2012, we have the following numbers for BABIP, LOB %, K% and BB%:

Batting

Pitching

BABIP

LOB %

K%

BB%

BABIP

LOB %

K%

BB%

2014

0.289

72.7%

18.4%

8.9%

0.299

73.9%

18.9%

9.3%

2013

0.282

73.1%

18.3%

8.3%

0.293

72.3%

19.3%

8.0%

2012

0.279

72.5%

20.5%

7.8%

0.291

72.0%

18.4%

9.2%

Nothing really out of the ordinary here. So let's see how the Blue Jays have performed relative to their historical average in the last six games and during the 20-4 run.

Batting

Pitching

BABIP

LOB %

K%

BB%

BABIP

LOB %

K%

BB%

Last 6 Games

0.266

92.2%

19.4%

7.8%

0.331

79.0%

16.8%

9.2%

Batting

Pitching

BABIP

LOB %

K%

BB%

BABIP

LOB %

K%

BB%

20-4 Run

0.302

71.9%

16.9%

8.9%

0.281

76.4%

16.9%

6.6%

I figured that it would be bad but not this bad.

So fortunately (or unfortunately), our intuition is correct. The Blue Jays seemed to have perfected the art of pop-ups, line-drives that magically find outfielders' gloves, fly-balls à la Liam Hendriks and grounders that go straight into pitcher's glove, especially when there's a guy on base. This is really frustrating, since if our batting LOB% was at the average of 72%, we could have gotten 21 runs instead of just 10.

The good news is that our pitching is still holding up, even though they are being buoyed by our bullpen aces McGowan, Redmond and Jenkins. You could say that the Jays were lucky to have LOB% of around 80%, but even if pitching LOB% was 72%, we be allowing just 5 more runs. In summary, deviation in LOB% alone costed us 6 runs throughout the two series.

Surprisingly, BABIP doesn't seem to play a huge role for offense. Even if BABIP was around the historical average of 0.280, we'd tack on one more run at most (assuming average LOB%). Even though the walk rate is a little down, it's not significant enough to matter. The problem with the offense really just seems to be bad luck - not hitting with men on base.

In terms of pitching, the guys have got it tough this past week. The starters got BABIPed pretty badly, posting 0.323 BABIP overall with Happ (0.417) and Stroman (0.385) being the chief victim. The difference in BABIP overall from historical average translates to about 9 more baserunners. With average LOB%, this is 2.5 more runs being scored against the Blue Jays. While our opponents are striking out less, the main issue with our pitcher just seems to be getting unfortunate hits. While it would be nice if they can pick up their K% a little, they seem to be doing a fine job at this point.

The magnitude of these effects is rather startling. The Blue Jays were outscored by 16 runs during the two series. Assuming historical average BABIP and LOB%, we were owed 10 runs. If we assume that the Blue Jays had the same BABIP and LOB% during the 20-4 run, we would be exactly even on the two series (13 more runs from offense and 3 less runs from pitching). We would have easily gotten at least 3-3, if not 4-2 for the homestand. While a 3-3 record does not seem as dominant as the Blue Jays were back in May, we also need to account for the dip in 2B and HR production. HR and 2B production per game are down 54% over the past six games even though hits per game and walks per game are around the same level. This is probably what happens when the lineup relies mostly on power and BABIP works against them. A lot of potential 2B and HR probably ended up as a pop-up or into the gloves of outfielders.

So to conclude, this homestand was just a really unfortunate time for the Blue Jays. The worst part was probably that these things had to happen in front of more than 40,000 folks at Rogers Centre. The good part though, is that there's no need to panic from these series. Even from a small sample, we can tell that the bats hasn't cooled off and pitching has not blown up. The production during the 20-4 run, while being on the lucky side, is not unreasonable. It's quite likely that the Blue Jays will be continuing on another good stretch in the near future, hopefully starting at Camden Yards tomorrow.

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