There’s something about baseball that brings a smile to my face, and I know I’m not alone. Maybe it’s that the start of baseball season means that summer is here. Or maybe it’s that smell of freshly cut grass.
Maybe it’s the length of the season and the ability to overcome one absolutely awful game with an impressive win the very next day. It might be the mental game within the physical game, or the differences in managerial styling between the AL and NL. Come to think of it, it’s probably all that and much more.
One thing that has always fascinated me about baseball is the immense amount of statistics that are kept and how useful they are. I know you don’t know who I am, so I should explain that I’m not a whiz-kid mathematician, but I do like the simplicity of finding a number to predict what will happen. To me, that just makes sense.
I was that kid sitting in the 100 level of the SkyDome—it was the SkyDome then—scoring the game for no reason other than I thought it was fun. So, it’s no wonder that when I grew up and started writing, I wanted to write about things like this.
For better or for worse, here are five statistics that may change your mind about some Toronto Blue Jays.
Brett Lawrie is second amongst Major League third basemen in a statistic called Range Factor per game. It has a simple formula: (putouts + assists) / games played. It is a measurement of exactly what it sounds like: a player’s range.
Although the statistic could be influenced by a number of things like having ground ball pitchers on the pitching staff or balls hit directly at a fielder, over the course of a season for an everyday player, it’s a pretty good indicator.
Lawrie’s range factor is 2.96, which is good for a third basemen and effectively means he has some impressive range. There you go, cold hard proof for what you thought you already knew.
Yunel Escobar has endeared himself to many Jays fans this season with his solid defensive play, but just how good has he been?
Escobar leads all Major League shortstops in a statistic called Total Zone Runs with 14. It’s a little verbose, but it's important. Bear with me here.
This statistic either credits or debits a fielder on every ball hit within his zone on the field. It then takes that number and converts it into a run total that can be compared across positions. It combines a number of other factors, like the player's ability to reach a ball and make a play on it and an infielder’s ability to complete a potential double play, to give us a comprehensive value of a fielder’s importance.
Since it is compared to the “average” fielder, anything above zero is good and below it is bad. Escobar’s 14 Total Zone Runs means he is worth 14 runs above the average player at shortstop.
In the errors committed by an outfielder category, the Blue Jays have two players in the top five. Rajai Davis is tied with Adam Jones for the Major League lead with seven errors. Considering Jones also leads the Majors in defensive games in the outfield, it’s a little more troubling to see Davis’ name at the top of the list.
Even more surprising is that, although the Blue Jays have come to rely on the solid play of Colby Rasmus, he sits just one error back in third place with six on the year.
For an everyday player, unless the fielder is known for botching balls in the field, this is not a stat that should be scrutinized too hard. For the most part, the outfield has played solid this year and this should not be raising any red flags. It’s just some food for thought.
On the flip side of that coin, Colby Rasmus is third amongst Major League center fielders with five assists and Jose Bautista is second amongst right fielders with 11.
Rasmus and Bautista are also in the top five in Total Zone Runs for their positions, being worth 9 and 12 runs, respectively.
These stats are more indicative of the strong play Blue Jays fans have seen this year from the core of their outfield.
When Anthony Gose was called up to the Blue Jays for the first time, his stats in the minors earned him that spot. He was batting .292 and appeared ready to bring his stuff to the Majors. He can help the team in many ways, but he is also extremely deficient in a few key areas.
But there are some key stats that may prove to be more telling that just his average. In Triple-A, Gose hit just .187 against left-handed pitching. To have such a high batting average, he must have dominated right-handed pitching.
Well, he did, hitting .318 and all five of his home runs came against right-handed pitchers. Don’t think that Major League managers don’t know that he struggles against lefties.
Anthony Gose also strikes out a lot for a hitter with very little power. He struck out 93 times in 92 games. You got it, that means, on average, he strikes out every game.
Although he has a lot of potential, there are some still aspects of his game he needs to improve on. If I were to guess, he won’t be hitting Major League pitching consistently this year or next. Try again in 2014.