AL East Standings
With one game still to go, it's been a rather impressive month of May for our protagonistic corvidae. After a dismal April in which the Jays set new standards for futility at the plate, particularly with runners in scoring position, our heroes bounced back (a reasonable May OPS of .737) and now have an almost exactly league-average offense (OPS+ of 99). This is especially impressive considering that they've been without Vernon Wells for most of the month. Lyle Overbay (125), Scott Rolen (140), Wells (117), Matt Stairs (112), Marco Scutaro (104), and Rod Barajas (130) have had varying degrees of offensive success this season thusfar, while Aaron Hill (90), David Eckstein (88), Shannon Stewart (91), Alex Rios (93), and particularly Brad Wilkerson and Kevin Mench (both 63) continue to struggle, though Stewart has been hitting well recently and Hill and Rios have been up and down. Barajas and Scutaro have been very good fill-ins. Power continues to be a problem for the Jays, though it has improved. Though the Jays are reasonably good at getting on-base as a team, it's relatively easy to see why it hasn't translated into as many runs: the leadoff spot in the Jays' lineup has OPSed .673 (OBP .322), while the second spot has been even worse (.612 OPS, .293 OBP). With runners in scoring position, the Jays are now .244/.332/.342, which is better than it was but still well below league average.
Now for the fun stuff: the Jays' pitching has been outstanding. With the exception of A.J. Burnett, all the starters have been above league average, with Halladay (ERA+ 138), Litsch (127), and Marcum (153) throwing particularly impressively. The bullpen has been just as good, with only the 7th man Armando Benitez (ERA+ of 90) not pitching great out of the current crew. Ryan, Carlson, Downs, and Tallet have been outstanding, while Frasor and Camp have also been very steady. With the Jays as a team sporting healthy 2.5 K/BB, 7.45 K/9, and 2.97 BB/9 ratios, we can expect good pitching to continue, I think, and say that at least a good portion of it is independent of the Jays' fine team defense, which brings us to the next topic.
Defense has also been a great asset to the Jays, with Overbay (3rd among AL 1st basemen in both RZR and out-of-zone plays), Hill (middle of the pack RZR-wise, but 1st in out-of-zone plays), Rolen (just shy of the qualifying innings, but if he did qualify he'd be the best by a long shot), and Eckstein/Scutaro (neither has enough innings to qualify, but either would be best in RZR among AL Shortstops if they did) providing great infield D. The outfield is less impressive (though Stewart has surprisingly high RZR) and fielding stats are far from perfect, but it's fair to say that even with injuries, the Jays defense has been helping its pitchers to the tune of the best team RZR and +/- in the A.L.
As a team, the Jays are 5 games over .500 and 1 game below their pythagorean record. What's really crazy is that they are on pace to score only 662 runs, which would be very bad, but on pace to give up only 577, which would be fairly legendary. Neither is likely to continue, but the question is which is more representative of where the team will be for the rest of the season? Still, with the hitting performing better recently and the pitching and defense continuing to hum along, things are looking fairly good for the Jays at the moment.
See everyone later in the game thread. Until then, please comment on your thoughts on the team's state, and take part in our Saturday digression topic as well, which, this week, is: What are the three best TV shows of all time? I would go with the Wire for one, and as to the other two, I'm partial to two brilliant shows that didn't make it through a season: Wonderfalls and Freaks and Geeks. If those don't count, I'm almost equally happy with the X-Files and Northern Exposure, though both fell off quite a bit at the end. I'm partial to the hour-long format for both comedies and dramas.