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What are the biggest surprises at the 1⁄3 mark of the Jays season?

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Miami Marlins v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

We have hit the 13 mark of the season. The Blue Jays are 29-25, fourth in a strong AL East.

It feels like we’ve been a challenging part of the schedule. Games we’ve played against teams with winning records:

  • 9 games against the Yankees (6-3)
  • 7 games against the Rays (2-5)
  • 5 games against the Red Sox (2-3)
  • 3 games against Cleveland (2-1)
  • 3 games against the Astros (1-2)
  • 4 games against the Royals (1-3)
  • 4 games against the A’s (2-2)

I keep wondering when we will get to play the Orioles (forgetting I can look it up, June 18, 19, and 20). Before then, we play the Astros, White Sox, Red Sox, and Yankees. That’s a pretty rough 13 game stretch. After that, there are 12 games against the Orioles, Marlins, Mariners, and Orioles again.

Hitting these points of the season gets me thinking about happy surprises and disappointments to this point in the season.

The happy surprises:

  • Vladimir Guerrero has been amazing. I don’t know that I consider him a ‘surprise,’ though I guess his defense has been a pleasant surprise. And, I figured that his bat would improve, but I thought maybe a more gradual improvement. I didn’t expect him to jump from a 116 OPS+ to a league-leading 204. This morning, Fish Stripes wrote about getting to watch him.
  • Marcus Semien has also been much better than we could have hoped. We complained bitterly, at the start of the season, about having him in the leadoff spot. And then he had a slow start, and we complained more. But, when you put up Player of the Month numbers, the complaining stops. And he seems to fit in well with the team. I’m not a bit veteran presents guy, but he does seem to add a, I don’t know, calming touch or something. And his glove at second has done the job to make the defense look much better.
  • Baserunning. By FanGraphs BrR, the Blue Jays are the best in the AL on the bases, which is a massive swing from last year when we were third from the bottom of the AL. Unlike most seasons, I don’t remember us having a player thrown out at the plate (though players were thrown out at third after overrunning the base.
  • Robbie Ray and Steven Matz have both been better than I would have expected. Each has only had one game where they didn’t complete 5 innings. They, almost always, give us a chance to win. They are both getting a lot of strikeouts and both are handing out few walks. I don’t see how we could have hoped for better.

Disappointments?

  • The biggest disappointment is all the injuries. Our bullpen would look so much better with Merryweather, Borucki, Phelps, Murphy, and Yates being healthy.
  • And of course, George Springer being hurt and us having no idea when he might be back.
  • The catcher position. Without Kirk, and with McGuire and Jansen putting up OPS+ numbers of 55 and 40 respectively, it has been a bit of a black hole. Jansen seems to be having long at-bats, and he has been walking a lot lately. And Reese had a big hit yesterday. But, when FanGraphs talks about the idea of bringing Gabriel Moreno up from Double-A and I think that it isn’t that bad an idea, you know things are going poorly.
  • Cavan Biggio wasn’t hitting and now he’s hurt. And with Joe Panik and Santiago Espinal as the guys filling in for him, third base has been a bad spot. Pretty soon someone will suggest bringing Austin Martin or Jordan Groshans up from AA and I’ll be nodding my head.
  • And, of course, the walks lately, from the bullpen. I expect some blown saves and some losses from the bullpen, but it is tougher to take when runs are walked in. I guess it is going to happen when injuries push you far down the list of who you expect to close, but it isn’t fun.

Share your thoughts on the most pleasant surprises and biggest disappointments of the first third of the season.