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Second half hitting troubles: Outfielder edition

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Early in the season we weren’t hitting the way I expected we would. I figured that the hitting would come around. Little did I know that, come September, I’d be looking back at the early part of the season as the ‘good old days’.

I don’t know what’s going on, but we don’t seem to be able to hit the ball. And it seems like our outfielders are a large part of the problem,

Let’s take a look at the outfielders.

Jose Bautista

Now Jose wasn’t exactly vintage Jose at the start of the season. And he’s had more than his usual share of little aches and pains. In a perfect world he would be DHing most of time, but then we have half a dozen guys that should DHing (thought he has been making some good catches lately). The good news is that he is still getting on base, OBP of .351 in the second half (.360 in the first), so, of course we move him out of the leadoff spot. He’s sitting at 18 home runs and I wouldn’t put a lot of money down on him getting to 20. Unless he goes on an amazing power streak (I can hope) he’s going to finish with his fewest home runs since 2009, back when he was still a part-timer.

Kevin Pillar

Pillar has the smallest drop in OPS, and he’s such a streak hitter that he could go on a little tear and finish up with roughly the same number as the first half. It seems like a long time since his last good streak, maybe he is due. His power has disappeared, he had 7 home runs in the first half, and he still sits at 7 for the season. Again he’s had some injuries that are likely making it harder for him. Find a player who isn’t a little banged up at this time of year. His defense is so good, it is tough to take him out of the lineup for a day to let him have a rest.

Michael Saunders

He’s impossible to figure out. He was an All-Star. Had a great first half. He was hitting almost .300. Since the break he is hitting .181. I don’t know what is going on. Almost have to figure he’s hiding an injury. He really should be out of the lineup but we don’t have anyone that is hitting, so about the only think you can do is keep sending him out there and hope he remembers what he was doing before the All-Star game. I did expect some ‘regression’ after the terrific first half, but this isn’t regression, this is forgetting how to hit the ball. Another guy that really should DH, if he was hitting. I’d rather watch Jose play defense.

Ezequiel Carrera

Carrera was playing way better than we had any right to expect, back in April and May. He had me feeling bad for saying I didn’t want him to make the team out of spring training. He has 2 hits in August, one was that game winning home run that bought him more playing time. I would still rather have gone into the season with Dalton Pompey as fourth outfield.

Melvin Upton

I don’t know if I’ve ever watched a more frustrating player. You know there is power there, you know there is speed. And yet you rarely see it. He’s hit 4 home runs as a Jays and he’s been about a break even base stealer, 6 steals, 3 times caught. And then he’ll have an awful day in the outfield. Zaun told us he was a better outfielder than Pillar, which was all kinds of stupid, but I didn’t expect him to look so bad. He’ll seem ok then, at least at random moments, he looks like someone that has never played outfield before. I don’t know what to think. It seems like he could be a very good 4th outfielder or platoon outfielder, maybe watch for the moments he gets hot and ride him at those times? He’s 32 now, I don’t see him suddenly living up to his potential. I see Baseball References lists him as a center fielder/third baseman. When was the last time he played third? Oh I have the page open, he played 50 games at third in 2006.

What would you do if you were manager?

Me? Well, Pillar and Bautista would play every day. Pillar’s defense is too good and no one is hitting anyway. I’d try to find times I can put Jose in at DH, but that spot is needed for other guys, and, let’s face it, I only own him for another month, might as well play him in right. If we sign him again, then we can talk about making him a first baseman/DH.

The other outfield spot. I’d try Dalton Pompey. No one is hitting, give him a shot. But then I’m a little blind on the prospect side. If we aren’t scoring, let’s see what he can do. It can’t be much worse than Saunders and Upton have been.

But, I do understand that Gibby knows Saunders and Upton have ‘done it before’ and I can understand thinking that they should be able to figure it out. I get that. Gibby knows that if they end up missing the playoffs, odds are he’d fired. Would you want to bet your job on someone with no track record? So I can understand him platooning Saunders and Upton. You know that Saunders or Upton could get hot and carry the team for a couple of weeks. It really is too late to do more than put them out there and hope.