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Who’s Hot, Who’s Cold: Blue Jays Batters

A look at the Jays hitters over the last two weeks

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays
Is the red slimming?
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

It is a lot more fun to do one of these when some (most) of the hitters are actually hot.

The Blue Jays were 9-3 over their last 12 games. Our hitters went .285/.375/.533 for a .908 OPS. A pretty huge jump from their season mark of .730.

Hot

Alejandro Kirk: Played in 10 games, starting 9. Hit .444/.512/.889 with 4 home runs, 5 walks and 2 strikeouts.

His 4 home runs came in his last 5 games. Of the games, he started 5 as catcher and 4 as DH. In the two weeks, he caught 1 of 4 base stealers. On the season, he’s caught 6 of 19. Defensively, he’s been better than advertised, and his bat has been what we hoped. Kind of amazingly 11.9% of his ground balls have become infield hits, which isn’t going to continue. There was a lot of talk about trading him, I really hope they don’t.

Bo Bichette: Started all 12 games. Hit .283/.345/.509 with 6 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 walks and 13 strikeouts.

He’s played every game, and almost every inning at shortstop. I wouldn’t be against starting him at DH occasionally. I think every player needs time off occasionally. Everyone points to Cal Ripken, but he tended to slump near the end of the season. Bo has a really bad UZR (-46.2/150). UZR takes more games to normalize, but he’s making more errors than we’d like and could get to more balls. I do still think we’d be better off with him at second, but I don’t get to decide these things. I think Espinal would be a better SS.

Matt Chapman: Played in 11 games, starting 10. Hit .297/.422/.405, with 1 home run, 6 hits and 7 strikeouts.

And he was hit by pitch twice. One in the head. I don’t know how that doesn’t play with a batter's mind. If I took a pitch in the helmet, I’m sure I’d be thinking about it the next couple of hundred at-bats. It has been nice that he’s getting some of his hard-hit balls to fall in finally. I saw someone on Twitter saying that we were ‘over-sold’ on his defense and that he was nothing special. I disagree, I’m enjoying watching him play defense. Yeah, he’s made a couple of errors, but that’s what comes from playing third base. long throws with no time to think. If you do think, you don’t make the play (playing tennis I find myself repeating a line from Bull Durham “don’t think it hurts the team”). Anyway, despite his slow start with the bat, FanGraphs has him at 0.9 WAR, 13 of the play thru the season. I’d like to think he’ll finish the season about a 4 WAR.

George Springer: Played 10 games, starting 9. Hit .308/.378/.718 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 5 walks, 7 strikeouts and 1 stolen base.

He missed a couple of games with a ‘non-Covid illness’. Isn’t he a joy to watch play? He seems to get everything he can out of his ability. He’s not loved in center by UZR (and I think in a perfect world he would be a right fielder, but I’d rather have him in center than Gurriel or Hernandez. And seeing him go full out for a catch is fun to watch. The leadoff home runs are great, there are times I think ‘maybe we’d be better off with him batting 3rd or 4th” but he’s comfortable leading off and we have guys for the RBI spots.

Lourdes Gurriel: Played in 11 games, starting 10. Hit .314/.442/.400 with 3 doubles, 8 walks and 6 strikeouts.

He started one game at DH, the rest in left. He played a bit of first too. He gets off to a slow start, people worry about him, and he gets hitting better. Rinse repeat. It feels that he’s playing better defense, but that might be my view. UZR doesn’t see it that way. He has made a couple of errors. He made a terrific play getting an out at second base that saved us a run (and a win). The announcers blamed Reese McGuire for being slow coming home, but, personally, I didn’t understand the batter tagging up at first base. You only see that play a few times in a season, mostly because second base is a much shorter throw from the outfield. Why tag if you aren’t 100% sure, especially when it could cost you a run?

Teoscar Hernandez: Played in 11 games, starting 10. Hit .318/.375/.523, with 4 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 4 walks, 9 strikeouts and 1 steal.

He started 9 games in right, 1 at DH. He had the 9 game hitting streak, where he hit .400/.462/.657. He’s a terrific guy to hit after Vlad. He has his poor moments in the outfield. Sometimes he’s slow to cut off a ball, but he’s better than he once was. It is great to see him hitting again.

Raimel Tapia: Played in 10 games, starting 7. Hit .308/.357/.462 with 4 doubles, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts.

He started 2 games in left, 2 in center, 2 in right and 1 at DH. It is nice to see him hitting, because you could see he was having better and better at-bats. Good to see he’s getting some ball falling in for him. And it is kind of fun to see someone with his speed on the basepaths. If he could continue getting on base 35% of the time, he could be a valuable player.

Cavan Biggio: Started 8 games. Hit .286/.464/.429 with 3 doubles, 7 walks, 9 strikeouts and 1 steal.

Cavan’s started 4 games at first, 3 at second and 1 in left. He’s reached base in every game since coming back to the team. If he continues to hit like this, life is good. I couldn’t give you odds on whether he will at not. But this is nice to see. I think he’s likely to continue to be streaky. Most of us are. Just about everything I do, some days I think I’m really good and some days (usually soon after I think I’m really good), I have days when I’m really terrible. I’m hoping Cavan has a lot more days when he’s really good in the future.

Cold

Bradley Zimmer: Played in 10 games, starting 4. Hit .083/.313/.167 with a double, 2 walks and 7 strikeouts.

Mostly used as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner, which is the right spot for him. If we had extra-inning games, he’d be great as a Manfred Man. He had 17 PA, so it is tough to get a gauge on what they are working on with him, but 7 strikeouts in 17 PA is pretty terrible.

Inbetween

Vladimir Guerrero: Play in 12 games, starting 11. Hit .222/.327/.600 with 5 home runs, 7 walks and 10 strikeouts.

Can a guy with a .600 slugging average be anything but hot? Can a guy hitting .222 can be not be listed as cold? A .927 OPS is pretty good. He is always going to more criticism than he deserves, but then he’s going to make a ton of money playing this game, so he can live with it. The little moment between him and Bo yesterday was interesting. Bo, being the shortstop, should be captain of the infield. But, then I figure that Vlad thinks of himself (and I do too) as captain of the team. Vlad does seem to call for any ball he can get to. I do like a player who takes charge. I’ve watched too many Jays teams where no one is willing to take charge, but I can understand that occasionally a teammate might now be happy with that. But that’s likely a discussion for a stand-alone post sometime.

Santiago Espinal: Played in all 12 games, starting 11. Hit .239/.321/.413, with 2 home runs, 6 walks and 7 strikeouts.

His two weeks split very neatly into one really bad week (.115/.200/.115) and one amazingly good week (.400/.478/.800). He didn’t hit great at the top of the lineup, but then it was a really small sample size. I don’t buy that he couldn’t be a good hitter at the top of the order. I think if you had two Espinals and had one at the top and one at the bottom, after 160 games, they would have similar numbers. But since I think our top-of-the-order guys are better hitters, I’d rather Espinal hit lower. Santiago started 9 games at second, 2 games at third and he also played a bit of shortstop.

Danny Jansen: Played in 8 games, starting 7. Hit .200/.226/.600 with 4 home runs, 1 walk and 6 strikeouts.

Sort of like Vlad, the .226 OBP is not good but the 4 home runs in 30 at-bats is a great pace. Unlike Kirk, he isn’t used at DH ever. I don’t see why not.

Also Played

Vinny Capra: Had 1 at-bat in the two-week period.