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Photo Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Over-performers, under-performers, and finding the middle-ground

The Jays are all over the place.

They’ve got players way over-performing while others are seemingly lost out in left field – check that, right field. *studio audience busts out laughing* 

Teoscar’s 1.138 OPS would rank fourth in major league baseball if he qualified. Sure that’s cherry picking considering he needs twice his current number of plate appearances to actually qualify, but come on how can we not dream on this guy. The resurgence of Steve Pearce is reminiscent of his peak, which was actually just two short years ago and likely the reason the Jays signed him as a free agent. Don’t forget Maile, the backup catcher, who would rank 11th with his 1.037 OPS if he qualified. And Granderson, well, he is performing like he’s 27 not his actual 37.

Pearce and Granderson are over-performing and that’s great to see from depth pieces in their late 30’s. As upcoming unrestricted free agents, they are not integral to the Jays’ long-term plans. They are essentially $11 million worth of stop-gaps delaying the MLB service time of future OF assets. With the way they are hitting, that $11 million could pay huge dividends be it through an extra year of control of Alford and Co. or through a playoff run. Either way, they are playing well above their pay rate.

Looking for a comp – Ian Desmond’s $14 million AAV and Nick Markakis’ $11 million AAV provide marginally better production, but require longer terms, come with significantly more risk, and the Jays would still need to sign a second player. For the sake of argument, say they did sign one of those two beauts, the MLB service time would be ticking for someone. Plus Pearce provides some position flexibility – we all know I’m fully on the position flexibility bandwagon!

Not even sure what to say about Maile – like by-god man what is going on!? Please no one fill him in on his actual role. Nor should we let him know there is an insane pipeline of future catching replacements in the system – Jansen, Adams, McGuire, and Pentecost lead that list. He’ll come back to earth eventually and start hitting like most backups do. When he does let’s not bitch and moan even though we know we all will. Check that, Maile is never coming back to earth. He clearly is and always will be the best catcher in the AL East.

Now Teoscar is something else. This is surprising the bejeezus out of me. There are some true believers out there and I’ll admit I haven’t been one but I’m ready to see the light. Definitely saw Teoscar as something other than he is. He is legit, maybe not as legit as he’s hitting, but legit none-the-less.

Looking back, his role in Houston’s system was bamboozling. He was a star among brighter stars – or some other BS cliché, either way you get the point. Put him in any other system and that market would have been talking about him nonstop. Not to poke fun at Detroit, actually totally to poke fun at Detroit, he would have ranked as their top hitting prospect the last couple seasons. For Houston he was somewhere around eighth and with the Jays he’s coming in around fourth. If it weren’t for the Large Adult Sons known as Bo and Vlad, he’d be the talk of BJN.

Apr 17, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile (21) celebrates with outfield Randal Grichuk (15) and center field Kevin Pillar (11) after his game winning base hit in the bottom of the tenth inning during the second game of a double header between the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot to be excited about here. There is a lot to be concerned about as well – someone’s gotta be the skeptic.

Teoscar is holding a .391 BAbip. That ain’t gonna carry much longer. When it falls so too will his production. That said, if he keeps seeing a healthy dose of four seamers than it shouldn’t fall too much. Most of his production this year is off the four seam, which is coincidently his bread-and-butter. The man has a career ISO of .353 and BAbip of .347 against the 373 four seamers he’s seen in his MLB career. He’s only faced 40 so far this season and it’s the pitch he’s getting the most often. Until pitchers start seeing success with their cutter against him – lifetime .167 avg, this season .400 avg – Teoscar is going to continue to mash.

The reality for Teoscar is he is going to regress, slightly. The opposite can be said for Grichuk.

Sure, Grichuk has been the stain on an otherwise masterpiece of a lineup. But just as Teoscar, Maile, Pearce, and Granderson are benefiting from high BAbips, Grichuk is the victim of one that is comparable to the batting average for most MLB pitchers. The man’s BAbip is below .100, ranking him as the unluckiest hitter in baseball. To be exact, it’s actually .088.

Before we throw Grichuk to the curb let’s consider the other hitters on the unfortunate list for worst BAbips in baseball. Counting down from fifth to Grichuk: Ian Desmond (.182), Jose Ramirez (.175), EE (.152), and Carlos Santana (.150). You think for half-a-second that any of those players are getting the same kind of response that we’re giving Grichuk? Not a chance, well maybe Desmond.

If we really want to dig into Grichuk we could reference his precipitous drop in line drive rate. Over his career, he’s averaged a line drive rate of 24% while this season it’s limping in at 17% resulting in an even lower ground ball rate than normal. Tough to say this is the reason for such a low BAbip considering fly ball hitters are affected at a greater rate, but it’s interesting to note.

As much as Teoscar is crushing the four seamer, Grichuk can’t get his barrel to the pitch. Give it time and both players will begin to regress to normal. Until then, let’s enjoy Teoscar’s performance and, I dunno, find something else to do while Grichuk is at bat – maybe writing some code to break MLB’s fan-vote-in system and get Luke Maile, rightfully, into the All-Star game.

  • Tuloshyperbaricchamber

    I’m too lazy to look up the stats but I am pretty sure Pearce and Granderson aren’t over performing as much as some might think. They are platooned to their strengths and so we get to see the best of them. Someone else be less lazy than I am and look it up…

    • sparklenshine

      left field is performing exactly as they should be and were paid to do…exactly as you say, platoon and obviously to their strengths…using your logic I can say they are exceeding due to positional flexibility.
      mo mention of smoak, travis and martin??? grichuk I get and can tolerate for a time – new league, new city and country, artificial vs real turf but those 3 really need to pick it up

  • sparklenshine

    left field is performing exactly as they should be and were paid to do…exactly as you say, platoon and obviously to their strengths…using your logic I can say they are exceeding due to positional flexibility.
    mo mention of smoak, travis and martin??? grichuk I get and can tolerate for a time – new league, new city and country, artificial vs real turf but those 3 really need to pick it up