Newsflash: The Blue Jays Are Slow

Emphasis in the title certainly not on “flash.”

Also… uh… probably not on “news,” either, because I don’t think anybody should be surprised by the fact that the 2017 Blue Jays are slow as molasses preserved in amber and encased in the end of Richard Attenborough’s cane.

It’s pretty interesting to look at it visually, though — which is what we can do today thanks to some Statcast data released by the fine folks at Baseball Savant.

If you follow that link, you can see an interactive version of the chart above, which allows you to see which of the dots on it belong to which players. The coloured ones are, it should be obvious, members of the Blue Jays.

Specifically, from top to bottom, here’s what we see:

  • Kendrys Morales is somehow only the third-slowest DH. You can be forgiven for thinking that Morales would have come dead last on this list, because he barely looks like he’s moving when he’s chugging to first base, and yet there are four catchers, two other DH’s (Victor Martinez and Albert Pujols), and — mind-bendingly — one teammate who rate slower. Still, though, the jokes kinda write themselves:

  • José Bautista is the slowest right fielder by far. GOTTA LOVE THOSE LEGACY FIELDERS! And while this specific fact isn’t too surprising (though the degree to which he’s the slowest is pretty stark), there are a few grim surprises beyond that. For example: one of the two dots in the DH row that are slightly ahead of Bautista? Nelson fucking Cruz. And that last place left fielder who is faster than four Blue Jays regulars? Matt Kemp. Oy.
  • Kevin Pillar is one of the fastest players on the Blue Jays, but still in the bottom third among centre fielders — a testament to his instincts and routes to balls.
  • A testament to Ezequiel Carrera’s instincts and routes to balls is the fact that he’s clearly a bit faster than Pillar, has less ground to cover in the outfield, and yet still kinda fucking sucks out there. Steve Pearce is the Jays’ below average left fielder here, which… yeah.
  • Ryan Goins is not even a league average runner. Weird, right? And Troy Tulowitzki is dead last among shortstops in terms of footspeed. Hey, but at least he’s hitting as well Erick Aybar and Taylor Motter! Uggggggghhhhh.
  • Josh Donadlson is as fast as he needs to be. Unassailable. Moving on.
  • Devon Travis, while he was here, was battling a knee injury, which I’m going to assume has impacted his footspeed this season. Because it seems to me like he should grade out as faster than just above league average. Although… on the other hand, maybe he just feels faster than he really is because, apparently, everyone around him is slow as a goddamn loris.
  • Justin Smoak. Buddy. What the hell??? Slower than Morales! Slower than all the other first basemen! Adam Lind! Mike Napoli! Sandy Leon! YADI fucking MOLINA!
  • Russell Martin is pretty fast for a catcher, and especially fast for a 34-year-old catcher with nearly 1,500 games under his belt! That said, uh… a 34-year-old catcher with nearly 1,500 games under his belt is faster than five positional regulars on the Blue Jays. Five!

OK, OK, so it’s fun to complain about this stuff — or anything, really! — but let’s have some perspective here.

The Jays won’t be a painfully slow forever, and in the coming years, when they do have a younger, faster team, we’re probably going to long for some of the qualities this 2017 version of the club has that those future Blue Jays won’t have. No team is perfect, so there are always going to be concessions to certain qualities that a front office will make. Ideally the Jays wouldn’t be this slow — and Ross Atkins did say last winter that youth and athleticism were things the club were trying to add — but that’s the kind of process that takes time, not a single off-season (unless you’re some kind of Jerry Dipoto-like trade maniac — and even then, it depends what kinds of contracts you’re locked into).

So… yeah. The Jays are pretty fucking slow and it would be nice if they weren’t. Oh well!