The Toronto Blue Jays aren’t a very good offensive team. As a group, they’re a combined -50.02 BRAA and -5.93 WPA, worst in the majors in both categories. Worse than even Kansas City and San Francisco, and it’s hard to imagine a team being less effective scoring runs than the 2008 Giants. However, the Jays have managed to pull it off so far, raising offensive futility to an art form.
They have a grand total of three hitters who have produced positive Batting Runs Above Average numbers – Scott Rolen, Frank Thomas, and Aaron Hill. Thomas, of course, was released and is no longer with the team. Rolen has 57 at-bats and has missed most of the year with injuries. So, on any given day, nearly the entire offense is composed of below average hitters. That’s hard to do.
The main problems appear to be a complete lack of power, mainly thanks to subpar performances from Alex Rios and Vernon Wells, as well as a line-up that is just too right-handed. The only lefties getting regular playing time are Lyle Overbay, Matt Stairs, and Gregg Zaun, with Brad Wilkerson potentially getting worked into the mix. With a line-up that leans heavily to the right hand side of the plate, the Jays are an easy matchup for right-handed starters, and even those who don’t have a real weapon against left handed batters can get through Toronto’s line-up by just pitching around the occasional lefty.
The Jays have tried shuffling things up, but they just don’t have the personnel in the organization to put together an offense that can score a lot of runs. This is a team that absolutely has to get production from Wells and Rios, and they just aren’t. With those two struggling, we see things like the last four days, where the Jays scored one run in 36 innings before busting out for a big three spot in the 10th inning of last night’s second game against Cleveland.
Roy Halladay, Dustin McGowan, A.J. Burnett, and Shaun Marcum give Toronto one of the best starting rotations in baseball, but even they can’t overcome the struggling Jays offense. If Toronto really wants to win this year, they’re going to have to find some new hitters, because this group just isn’t getting it done.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.