Despite the actual halfway point of the season passing us by a few weeks ago, the Blue Jays finally entered the unofficial midway point of the season at a mark of 45-46. Coming out of the All-Star break, the team faces an important stretch of games that will decide whether the roster will be blown up for a rebuild or will be strengthened for a postseason run (which ends with home field advantage in the World Series). Since the squad is entering the third quarter, or Q3 as all of us baseball investors know it as, it's time for the third edition of the stock market report. Before the season things were very unclear on the Blue Jays front, which was reflected in a report heavy with question marks. Two weeks into the campaign, it was looking like more and more like a bear market as numerous pitching stocks had taken a hit and very few assets looked like surefire blue chips. Now 91 games in, it's time for another look at the volatile stock market that is the Toronto Blue Jays.
Blue Chip Stocks
Whereas the Blue Jays once had five stocks placed in this category prior to the season, they now only have the same three that were blue chips in the update two weeks into the year. Jose Bautista (JBAT) has done what is now annually expected of him, with his low average of .239 being made up for with a great .381 OBP thanks to a 18.3% BB-rate. Edwin Encarnacion (EE) is another man with a low average (.233) but he's hitting the ball hard and hasn't dropped off enough to warrant a downgrade. The last of the blue chips is the all-star asset in Josh Donaldson (RAIN) whose acquisition from the Oakland Athletics firm looks to have been like buying AAPL at the turn of the decade. The third baseman has a team high .380 wOBA to go along with a home run mark of 21 which also tops the Blue Jays portfolio.
Value Buys on the verge of Blue Chip status
While assets like JBAT and EE have paid consistent dividends for enough years to be considered blue chips despite some questionable metrics (like batting average), some stocks are still looking for the consistency that results in their upgrade. One such stock is Devon Travis (DEVO) who has continued his fine form since returning from injury (.393 OBP in the last month) and is well on his way to becoming a stock that everyone wishes they owned before it took off. Another value buy must be Kevin Pillar (GRIT) who started trending downward a short time ago, but switched up his way of doing business and is back riding the bull to the top. Leading the team in WAR in the past 30 days (make of that what you will), the center fielder is getting it done on both sides of the ball and making it very hard for the Blue Jays to bring Dalton Pompey (POMP) back into the fold anytime soon.
Liam Hendriks (AUSI) finds himself in an interesting spot because he's definitely not a blue chip stock, but he's been good enough to not be considered anything less than a value pick. He finds himself as the second best option behind Roberto Osuna (ROBO) in the bullpen which is essentially an implied buy recommendation from the fund manager in John Gibbons.
Ride the volatility for better or for worse
As we've come to expect in the Blue Jays portfolio, volatility seems to rear its ugly head on a yearly basis. One constant offender is Jose Reyes (RYES) who has felt the growing market pressure and played some horrid defence in the past few weeks. On top of that he hasn't hit much for a good chunk of games and may eventually have to be sold to a buyer who's willing to believe he's still got profits in him. That's kind of like buying Blockbuster in 2007 from my point of view, but I'm no Cramer. Actually....I don't know very much so maybe I am Cramer.
A player who's taken a bit of a downgrade is Russell Martin (RUSS) who was an All-Star despite being pretty poor in the past few weeks. With a .295 OBP in the last 30 days as well as some unexpected shaky defence, the bright start that Martin had has dimmed a bit although there's two more quarters to pick it back up.
Chris Colabello (COLA) was like a tech bubble with the way his value shot to sky high limits before coming back down to earth in the past couple of weeks. Despite being placed in the wrong sector, the left fielder is still hitting extremely well for a supposed AAAA player and deserves a fair amount of praise.
Essentially the whole pitching staff can be thrown into this category as sometimes they're solid and sometimes they're an absolute ugly abomination of steaming garbage (more so the latter than the former). Mark Buehrle (BUEH) and Drew Hutchison (SIGH) have had good starts mixed in with their poor ones making it difficult to really know what you have in them. Marco Estrada (ESTR) hasn't really been that bad and he's flirted with no-hitters more than any other Jays pitcher so his volatility isn't nearly as dangerous as his fellow starters.
The bullpen has featured a few up-and-down guys as well, mainly Brett Cecil (CECL), Aaron Loup (LOGY) and Steve Delabar (SPLT) who could all strike out the side or could allow five runs in an inning before recording an out.
Buy Now if you're in it for the gamble
The Blue Jays are certainly not the only team in baseball who feature a number of assets who are essentially lottery tickets on the market. Bo Schultz (BO) and Ryan Tepera (CUT) are underappreciated by most investors although Q3 will be an important time for them to prove they deserve an upgrade instead of a potential delisting from the market altogether.
Justin Smoak (SMOK) and Danny Valencia (UTIL.A) find themselves in this category as they're going to appear like stars or duds depending on how they're used from game to game. If Smoak faces righties on a consistent basis then he's going to have value and if Valencia sees lefties then he's going to look like Barry Bonds. Unfortunately, Smoak usually ends up sitting on the sidelines of the trading floor while Valencia is utilized in a myriad of ways that lessen his effectiveness.
R.A. Dickey (DICK) has well and truly fallen from blue chip to garbage stock in a matter of a few years thanks to consistently poor performances. He finds himself alone in the waste basket as no other asset on the Blue Jays books provides so little upside at this point in the year. Many optimistic fans are still hoping for Dickey to turn it around, but right now the trade with the Mets looks like swapping Enron for Netflix and Amazon.
No Clear Recommendation
As is common, there's a few pieces with the Blue Jays who just fit into no other category. Ezequiel Carrera (ZZZZ), Ryan Goins (GLVE), and Dioner Navarro (BLEH) feature very little volume on a daily basis thanks to their fairly boring standing with the team. Although they all provide value, none do enough to move the needle very much at all and will continue to be met with complete indifference until there is a change in their performance.
Aaron Sanchez (SINK) also finds himself on this list, not because he's boring but due to the fact that he still hasn't done enough to sway opinions one way or the other. He's looked good, he's looked bad, he's looked average. He's like an ETF of the market index at this point, likely to provide growth at an unspectacular rate.
As always, your opinion is wanted! Let us know in the comments what you're own personal stock market report looks like as we prepare to enter Q3.