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Blue Jay of the Week: Michael Saunders

In a time of relative Blue Jays offensive mediocrity, Michael Saunders has finally found himself in the Blue and White.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The second full week of the 2016 featured much of the same Blue Jays baseball as the first. The pitching staff continued to be one of the best in the entire league while the offence treated crossing home plate as a task no easier than walking on the moon. For the most part, the same offensive contributors were making themselves noticed in week two.

Edwin Encarnacion led the team in batting average with a .345 average on the week and two home runs. Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson even continued to get on base despite watching their batting averages dip below the .300 mark. But the man who had the biggest week in a Blue Jays uniform is Michael Saunders. If Saunders is able to stay on the field for the entire season, it would be a massive addition to an already dangerous lineup.

Over the last seven days, Saunders hit an impressive .333/.407/.458 triple slash, scoring six runs with a 0.2 WAR. This all comes at a time when he was moved to the leadoff role atop the Jays lineup after the Kevin Pillar experiment failed to achieve liftoff.

Really, Saunders has been having a good season in general which is great to see after he hardly touched the field last year due to injuries. In 14 games, he's accumulated 0.5 WAR with a .321/.390/.509, walking in 11.1 per cent of his at-bats and reduced his strikeout rate to just 14.8 per cent of his at-bats. That performance epitomizes what you would want out of the leadoff role: a guy who can keep the ball in play, doesn't strikeout a lot and is able to get on base. In Saunders, for now, the Jays have it all.

I say for now, because Michael Saunders quite simply is not a 157 wRC+ player. Throughout his career he's never been a top offensive outfielder. That's not to say he can't have a breakout season in Toronto going into a contract year, but with a .410 BABIP and only 30 per cent of his batted balls rated as, "hard" a good guess is that he's going to come down to earth shortly.

But don't let that take away from what Saunders has done thus far. At a time when getting offence from 5-9 in the order seems like taking blood from a stone, Saunders has propped the Jays offence up to at least compete in games. You can't hold him short for that. At some point, as Buck Martinez says, players like Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and even Kevin Pillar are going to get hot themselves, making an average Saunders seem like a massive addition.

Until then, take in just how great Michael Saunders has been.