Those Surprising Jays Sluggers

Coming into the 2010 season, there wasn’t all that much to be excited about as a Jays fan. Although new GM Alex Anthopoulos was ready to take over with a bright future ahead, hopes in Toronto rested mostly in prospects such as Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace. With Roy Halladay and Alex Rios gone, the Jays were looking at a rock bottom season.

But that hasn’t happened at all. Instead, the Jays stand at a surprising five games over .500 in the dangerous territory we call the American League East. Although Toronto’s pitching has been solid, it has been their offense that has shocked everyone around baseball. Let’s take a look at some of those guys who are turning heads.

CF Vernon Wells
2010 wOBA: .396
2009 wOBA: .314
Career wOBA: .346

Oh, Vernon. When the Jays put Alex Rios on waivers last season, most people were pointing at Wells’ massive contract as a worse failure than Rios’. However, like Rios, Wells has bounced back big this year. For Wells it’s been due to his power resurgence; his BABIP of .293 is right around his career norm, but his HR/FB rate of 19.7% is a career high at the moment.

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OF Jose Bautista
2010 wOBA: .390
2009 wOBA: .339
Career wOBA: .328

The biggest shocker of them all, Bautista is currently slugging .152 better than last year with 18 homers already on the season. Aside from the pop, he’s also increased his walk numbers, getting on base at a career high rate. Bautista’s .221 BABIP is well below his career mark of .275, but his HR/FB rate of 20.2% is not only a career high but one of the top marks in the major leagues.

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SS Alex Gonzalez
2010 wOBA: .349
2009 wOBA: .275
Career wOBA: .298

If Bautista is the biggest shock, Gonzalez is certainly a close second. Gonzalez got his contract with Toronto based mostly on his durability, defense, and rings. However, the man who slugged .355 last year is now at .509, a dramatic increase. Gonzalez, who has already hit five more homers than he did in all of 2009, has been a godsend for the Jays.

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LF Fred Lewis
2010 wOBA: .340
2009 wOBA: .327
Career wOBA: .343

While Lewis’ production this year certainly isn’t jaw-dropping, it is nevertheless surprising; Bill James, CHONE, Marcel, and FanGraphs Fans all predicted Lewis to underperform his current wOBA. Considering Lewis was also cut in Spring Training and had to find his way to a new team (and divison, and league, and country) right before the season, and that he had a subpar 2009, this has been a nice year for Fred.

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C John Buck
2010 wOBA: .337
2009 wOBA: .332
Career wOBA: .307

Poor Royals fans. Despite putting up 0.5 WAR in just 59 games last year, Kansas City decided to go with Jason Kendall for 2010. Toronto has been the benefactor of that mistake, as Buck already hit more homeruns this year than all of 2009. While his numbers aren’t as gaudy as some of the other players, his pop makes him a nice asset at catcher.

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With the huge struggles from Aaron Hill, Lyle Overbay, and Adam Lind, the Toronto Blue Jays would be in a far worse position were it not for the great seasons being had by some surprising names. I’m not sure if Anthopoulos planned it all to go down this way, but he gets the credit nonetheless, and the Jays find themselves in a decent position with some bright players on the farm.

Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat

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Lewis wasn’t cut before the season began. He played 7 games with Fresno Grizzlies (Giants AAA) and was traded on April 15th.