Baseball’s a weird game sometimes. Pretty much anything can happen in a small sample size. When play began yesterday afternoon with most teams about a week into the season, the D-Backs and Twins had the two best records in the league, and neither of them would be in my top 20 choices to end the season with the best record in baseball - But hey, I’ve been wrong before.
The Blue Jays meanwhile enter their home opener tonight tied with the Braves for the worst record in baseball at 1-5. However, they also have a clubhouse full of veteran players who know things tend to change pretty dramatically in baseball once the games start to pile up. So when Troy Tulowitzki was asked about the team’s slow start at the end of the last road trip in Tampa, he didn’t sound overly concerned.
“It was definitely a tough series,” Tulo said after Sunday’s game. “1-5 is obviously not the way you want to start, but the good news is there’s 162 of these. Now we get to go back home in front of our great fans and get this thing rolling. We’ve got a good ball club. There’s no panic here. We’re going to be just fine, I can promises you that."
Perhaps nobody knows that early season results need to be taken with a grain of salt more than Tulo. He’s been on four playoff teams in his career, and all of them have played very poor baseball early in the season.
The 2007 Rockies started that season 18-27 in their first 45 games before eventually making it to the World Series. The 2009 Rockies were even worse. They fell 12 games under .500 in early June of that year (20-32) before roaring back to 92 wins and a Wild Card spot.
Then of course there’s the 2015 and 2016 Blue Jays. The 2015 team bottomed out at 23-30 in June, but was still a game under .500 the first time Tulo put on a Toronto uniform in late July of that year. They then famously got white hot in August, ran down the Yankees, and made it to 93 wins and the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. Last year’s team didn’t dig quite as big of a hole, but still started 19-23 over the first quarter of the season before finding their summer groove en route to 89 wins and their second consecutive playoff birth.
Just as importantly, Tulo also knows that good starts don’t always lead to great finishes. He experienced this first hand on three separate occasions in Colorado. In 2011, the team started 11-2 and had a 17-8 April before falling to a disappointing 73-89 record. In 2013, the Rockies got off to a 13-4 start, but that didn’t stop them from collapsing back to a 74-88 record by season’s end. Then in 2014, they again jumped out of the gate quick and were boasting a 22-14 record in the middle of May before injuries sank the team to a 96 loss season.
Amazingly, early season starts have almost been a negative indicator for how the season’s going to play out for the team’s Tulo’s been on. Good Aprils have led to bad seasons, and bad Aprils have led to good seasons. Again, sometimes baseball’s just weird.
Fortunately for the Jays, this isn’t even a bad April yet. It was just a bad week, or a bad road trip if you prefer - And I’m sure they have plenty of veterans in that clubhouse who feel the exactly the same way as Tulo does. If these guys play to their potential, this 1-5 start will soon become a distant memory.