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Blue Jays Year in Review: April

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With the 2014 season at its end, there are many ways to reflect on what transpired, cutting it up by month seems as good as a method as any.

Alex Goodlett

Personally, I'm not nearly done with thinking about the Toronto Blue Jays 2014 season.

If you are the type of person who reads Bluebird Banter, you probably aren't either. Despite the fact there is incredibly good baseball being played right now in the ALCS and NLCS, the Blue Jays haven't drifted away from our collective consciousness.

This year was inspiring, intoxicating, and immensely frustrating all at once and the 83-79 record the Jays put up does not reflect the peaks and valleys they endured.

It's is easy to see a season where the team was around .500 and interpret it as just another mediocre year, but 2014 felt a little different, especially in the context of a team that has rarely been in contention for two decades. In order to appreciate the intricacies of the most recent campaign I've decided to cut in into bite-sized nuggets and examine it further.

The Blue Jays usually felt like a better team or a worse team than their final record indicates as the 2014 progressed. In order to explore that further I will be looking at each month individually, starting, of course, with April.

Record: 12-15

The Jays didn't roar out of the gate. It could have been worse, but it definitely wasn't pretty.

Best Position Player (by fWAR): Jose Bautista (1.7)

HR

RBI

BB%

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

8

18

24.6%

17.2%

.293

.467

.598

199

After two seasons where Jose Bautista had looked more like a really good hitter than "Jose Bautista", Joey Bats showed he was back with a vengeance. When the slugger is truly on a roll he's a sight to behold and watching Bautista was a treat in April.

Best Pitcher (by fWAR): Drew Hutchison (0.8)

IP

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

xFIP

33.0

10.36

2.73

0.82

3.82

3.01

3.18

Although Mark Buehrle was grabbing headlines with a 4-1 record and a sparkling 2.16 ERA, Hutchison was actually the team's best starter by fielding-independent metrics. The then 23-year-old was devastating hitters with his high fastball and only a nasty .333 BABIP against was preventing him from being the real story in the rotation coming off Tommy John surgery.

The Team Hit Like...  Evan Longoria

Normally the idea that a whole team would hit like Evan Longoria implies that they absolutely excelled. 2014 is the exception to that rule.

Player/Team

BB%

K%

AVG

OBP

SLG

wRC+

Evan Longoria

8.1%

19.0%

.253

.320

.404

107

Blue Jays in April

9.1%

19.6%

.251

.324

.411

106

The team did fairly well with the bats in the early going, but this comparison says way more about Longoria's season than the Jays' April.

The Team Pitched Like... A.J. Burnett

It always hurts to bring up Burnett's name, especially in the context of his mediocre year with the Phillies.

Player/Team

K/9

BB/9

HR/9

ERA

FIP

xFIP

A.J. Burnett

8.00

4.04

0.84

4.59

4.14

3.95

Blue Jays in April

8.35

4.30

0.83

4.64

4.10

4.27

In 2013 a team that hit like Evan Longoria and pitched like A.J. Burnett would be a championship-calibre team, it's funny the difference a year makes.

GIF That Best Summarizes the Month:

Buehrle

April was the season of Mark Buehrle getting bucket loads of called strikeouts for some reason. Even if advanced metrics told us that Hutchison was pitching better, there's no doubt that Buehrle was the story.

In the interest of full disclosure I will say that I just recently invested the five minutes it takes to figure out how to do GIFs so the "GIF that best summarizes the month" is here to stay whether you, the reader, enjoys it or not.

Sometimes I have to do me.

So concludes part one of the six part "Blue Jays Year in Review" series, stay tuned for the remaining five installments that are sure to crop up at fairly random intervals.