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GDB 138.0: Driving in runs key for Toronto Blue Jays in opening of three-game set against Oakland Athletics

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Photo credit:Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
10 months ago
If the Toronto Blue Jays have any hope of making their way into the post-season, they are going to need to score some runs.
It sounds simple, and at its core, it is. Get on base, round third, come home.
But, as Jays fans have seen all too well this season, that’s not so easy to do. Toronto has scored 630 runs this season, one below the league-average mark 14th overall —a perfectly cromulent spot to be.
Wherein the issue lies is not by how many, or how few runs the Jays have scored, but instead how many runners they’ve stranded on the base paths this season. Through 137 games this season, they’ve left 998 men on base — the highest mark in the league tied with the St. Louis Cardinals, and well above the league average mark of 926.
Now this stat in and of itself doesn’t paint a completely accurate picture of where the Jays are at, but what it does do is show just how difficult they are making it for themselves.
And what’s been a killer for the club is how many times they’ve grounded into double plays this season. When you do it 113 times, the third most of any team in the major leagues, something clearly isn’t going right for you. Again, this stat doesn’t paint a full picture, doubly so considering one of two teams who have done so more are the Atlanta Braves, far and away the most potent offence in the league.
Among 139 qualified hitters, there are a number of Blue Jays who appear in the GDP leaderboards. The numbers are weighted against the average of qualified hitters.
Some additional information can really help contextualize the issues these four batters have had, in each of their own ways, at the plate. Vladimir Guererro Jr. and George Springer have been the clear culprits in terms of ending rallies early. For Vladdy, his issues are peculiar given that while he’s right near the top of the GDP leaderboard, but weighted against the average amongst the league’s top hitters, it’s truly not as bad. That, coupled with the fact he’s continuing to drive runs and his ability to hit for power is very much there, and it makes me think a lot of these issues we’ve seen from him at the plate are overblown
Springer, however, has truly struggled with GDP’s to a detrimental level. While he’s grounding into double plays at a similar rate as Vladdy, his weighted numbers are awful in comparison to the league’s top hitters. On top of that, his power isn’t where it used to be, and he’s struggled to drive in runs.
Whit Merrifield and Bo Bichette have found themselves around average when it comes to grounding into double plays, but when they do it costs the team as their weighted numbers are not great. While Merrifield hasn’t a ton of power in his bat, his OPS is still near league average. Bichette, meanwhile, has all the power in his bat this year with his OPS 32nd among 139 qualified hitters.
With the Jays opening a three-game set against the Oakland A’s, it’s going to be crucial for batters to be making smart swing decisions at the plate to keep runners on base, and coming home.

First pitch: 4:07 p.m EST — Sportsnet, Sportsnet 650.
Toronto Blue Jays: 75-62, 10.5 GB, 16 E#, 1.5 WCGB, +69 DIFF.
Oakland Athletics: 42-95, 33.5 GB, E E#, 34.5 WCGB, -296 DIFF.
Odds via Betano:
Moneyline: TOR -192; OAK +160.
*Odds at the time of publishing. Odds subject to change.
Starting pitchers:
NameTeamGSWLIPERAERA-FIPWHIPK/9BB/9
José BerríosTOR279.010.0158.03.70874.21.228.32.6
Luis MedinaOAK133.08.086.05.441334.91.538.84.5
Lineups:
Toronto 
  1. G Springer (R) RF
  2. C Biggio (L) 3B
  3. V Guerrero Jr. (R) DH
  4. S Horwitz (L) 1B
  5. W Merrifield (R) 2B
  6. A Kirk (R) C
  7. D Varsho (L) LF
  8. E Clement (R) SS
  9. K Kiermaier (L) CF
Oakland
  1. T Kemp (L) LF
  2. Z Gelof (R) 2B
  3. R Noda (L) 1B
  4. B Rooker (R) DH
  5. S Brown (L) RF
  6. J Diaz (R) 3B
  7. S Langeliers (R) C
  8. L Butler (L) CF
  9. N Allen (R) SS

Need to bide the time until first pitch?

Tune into the latest edition of Blue Jays Nation Radio as the crew talks about the Jays’ latest series against the Colorado Rockies.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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