Toronto Blue Jays: Grades for Every Player in April

Stephen BrownCorrespondent IIMay 1, 2013

Toronto Blue Jays: Grades for Every Player in April

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    At 9-18, the Toronto Blue Jays have had a tough month. That is putting it lightly. The Blue Jays have been terrible and were one outfield throw away from being swept in the last two series against divisional opponents.

    In their last 13 games, they are 3-10. This season is quickly getting away from them and some changes need to be made.

    This article will not address the changes that need to be made for the Blue Jays (*cough* John Gibbons *cough* *cough*) but merely seeks to address how every main player on the team has fared in the first month of the season. Overall team grade: D.

    NOTE: We will not be giving a grade to players who have barely played this season. We will grade some on the bench and all of the main relievers, but guys like DeRosa, Lincoln and Gonzalez will not be mentioned in this piece other than, of course, in this corresponding blurb.

J.P Arencibia: B

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    J.P. started the season off terribly. Opening night was a borderline disaster with all of those passed knuckleballs, and his defence has been shaky at best.

    That being said, his offence has been an excellent surprise and one of the few bright spots for the Blue Jays. Arencibia now has eight home runs on the season (which was tied for the lead in the AL until last night) and his swing is looking crisp and compact at the plate.

    By trying to even out his woeful catching and hot bat, we end up with a B grade.

Edwin Encarnacion: B-

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    Edwin has been hot and cold. He started the season off terribly but is currently on a nice little hot streak, tallying five home runs in his last six games. That being said, he has not been very reliable with runners in scoring position (RISP) this year and his batting average of .227 is very poor for a cleanup hitter.

    It would be unfair for us to give Edwin a grade starting with a C when he has seven home runs on the year and has played well enough at first.

Maicer Izturis: C

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    Izturis looks to be the everyday second baseman at this point in the season. Izturis, known for his speed and defence, hasn't provided quite the defensive help that we had hoped for.

    Izturis is batting .200 on the season and has as many home runs as he did all of last season in 100 games (two). Izturis needs to be a rock on the defensive end if he looks to keep his hold of the second-base job over, Emilio Bonifacio who has been even worse.

Jose Reyes: INC

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    Reyes played admirably and very well before injuring himself on that awkward slide into second base. It would be unfair to give Reyes a grade this season as he only played in 10 games. That being said, I am never a fence-sitter and had Reyes continued this pace, he would have undoubtedly received an A or A+ grade, as he is batting .395 with five stolen bases and a 4/5 K/BB ratio in those 10 games.

Munenori Kawasaki: B+

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    Kawasaki was an excellent surprise for the Blue Jays. He has instantly become a fan favourite here in Toronto and the Blue Jays fanbase loves the way he plays.

    Kawasaki has a great approach at the plate and can take many pitches, thus turning into walks. He is clearly a slap hitter, but it serves him well.

    His defence isn't as excellent as I originally thought, but no one would ever complain about his defence when addressing his overall game.

    I will be interested to see what happens with Reyes returns...

Brett Lawrie: C-

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    Lawrie has clearly underperformed since returning from the DL. He has definitely picked up the pace in the last four games by garnering six hits (two of them home runs), but all that did was prevent a failing grade in this piece.

    Lawrie sports an ugly 16/3 K/BB and has only one double to his credit. Yes, his timing was off and he needed to get reacclimated to the game, but he needs to maximize and harness his energy in the right fashion.

    Let's hope he keeps up what he has had going over the last couple of games.

Melky Cabrera: C

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    Melky has not been as terrible as the rest of the Blue Jays, but he hasn't been real good, either. He only has eight runs scored, but oftentimes, that can't be helped when your teammates are not cashing you in.

    The biggest problem with Melky to date is his lack of extra-base power. He has zero home runs, one double and two triples. He needs to improve on that mark, especially if he is to bat second for the Blue Jays.

Colby Rasmus: B-

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    Colby Rasmus is the biggest feast-or-famine player on the Blue Jays to date. He has a ridiculous 36 strikeouts in 80 plate appearance this season (thus he is striking out just under half of his plate appearances; 45 percent). However, that also comes with nine extra-base hits.

    His fielding has been excellent, as per usual, and you can tell when he is in centre field versus someone like Rajai Davis...

    All in all, if he can keep up this power but lower the strikeout total, then he will be successful near the bottom of the lineup.

Jose Bautista: D+

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    Simply put, Bautista has one RBI when not hitting a home run, and that came on a groundout in the third game of the season. All of the other 10 RBI have come via his seven home runs.

    Take away his seven home runs and Bautista has been terrible this season and not the All-Star calibre player we all expected.

    Bautista is currently under the Mendoza line at .192. He has three doubles on the season and is currently striking out at a career rate (20 in 19 games). 

    Bautista is successful when he has roughly a 1/1 K/BB ratio and is patient (he currently sports a 2.22/1 K/BB ratio) at the plate. He has looked angry and upset more often than not and I believe that umpires are taking notice (as well as walking on the fourth ball before it is called).

    Although his leadership in the clubhouse is there, it hasn't translated to the field, and his fielding has been average at best.

    You need better run production from your third batter in the lineup.

    Put all of this together, and we see why he receives a grade of D+.

Adam Lind: B-

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    Lind started the year off terribly this season (this seems to be the trend on this team, no?), but he has recently picked up his play.

    After starting the year 2-for-20, Lind has rebounded and gone 9-for-24. Moreover, his eye at the plate has been quite impressive, as he has 10 walks and four strikeouts during his 9-for-24 stretch.

    Although the power is lacking and he has an embarrassingly low number of RBI for a power hitter (three), Lind has proven to at least be useful in other ways.

    It is hard to complain when a batter has an OBP over .400.

R.A. Dickey: C

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    Dickey has been up and down but not the rock that we had hoped to acquire at this point in the season. Dickey currently sports a 4.50 ERA and has as many losses this season (four) as he did on September 10th of last season. In case you are wondering, that is four-and-a-half months from now.

    His strikeouts are down and his WHIP is up over .25 points.

    He had a terrible first week of the season and he has improved, but we traded for an ace and Cy Young winner, not a decent mid-rotation guy.

    C.

Brandon Morrow: D

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    Everyone expected Brandon Morrow to become a bona fide perennial All-Star after his success in an injury-plagued 2012. Unfortunately, the trend continues for Blue Jays in April, as Morrow currently sports a 5.27 ERA and 1.54 WHIP.

    His strikeouts are down (6.26 K/9) and he has already given up four gopher balls. He has given up 15 earned runs in his last four starts and doesn't look anything like the guy Gibbons tabbed as the No. 2 in his rotation.

Mark Buehrle: C-

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    Buehrle has been exactly what was advertised (to me anyway). I did not believe that he would maintain an ERA under 4.00 this season. A contact pitcher playing in the small AL East park will give up many more runs than his time in the giant Marlins park.

    He has pitched two games where he has given up two runs and three games where he has given up five earned runs or more. Buehrle only gave up five-plus earned runs in a game three times all of last season...

    He needs to put the Blue Jays in a position where they can win ball games. We don't expect gems from Buehrle, but we do expect low run totals.

Josh Johnson: D

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    Johnson has not done well in Toronto. Enough said.

    He currently sports a 6.86 ERA and has given up two, three, four and six earned runs in his four starts. Moreover, he missed his start this weekend due to tricep soreness/tightness.

    For a pitcher who usually has great command and control (for his career he walks roughly one batter every three innings), his control has been questionable (this season he is nearly walking one batter every two innings).

    His strikeouts are there, but he has given up one home run in every start other than one. Oddly enough, the one start he didn't give up a home run was when he gave up six earned runs in 1.1 innings.

J.A Happ: A-

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    Happ has done exactly what you want and more from your fifth starter.

    A very solid ERA (3.86), two wins and solid strikeout numbers, Happ has been the best Blue Jay starter to date.

    Of Happ's five starts, he gave up zero earned runs in two of them (one being a no decision), a quality start in another, was the winning pitcher in another and had a tough go against the White Sox.

    That being said, the Jays have had four positive outings from Happ this season out of his five starts. What more can you ask from your fifth starter?

Casey Janssen: A+

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    The only Blue Jay worthy of such a grade, Janssen has been perfect this season.

    Although he looks so worried and concerned on the mound, he has the inner confidence to shut the door every time he is out there.

    Janssen is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and has given up one run this season. He has struck out 11 batters in eight innings, walked no one and only given up three hits all year.

    That leads you to a WHIP of 0.38.

    Keep it up, Casey.

Darren Oliver: B-

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    What to say about D.O...

    He is what he is. He is just doing it a little worse than last year.

Aaron Loup: A-

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    Aaron Loup has been one of the biggest surprises for the Blue Jays this season.

    After pitching 30-plus innings as a rookie last season (with a WHIP under 1.00 mind you), many wondered if Loup would have the same success this season.

    He certainly has, and he has been an excellent asset in the bullpen. He is capable of pitching hard to both lefties and righties (due largely to his unique delivery), all while pitching multiple innings.

    He already has three unearned runs this season, but overall, Loup has been quite dynamic out of the 'pen.

Brett Cecil: A

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    Brett Cecil is enduring a renaissance-type season here in 2013.

    With a new-found velocity to his fastball, Cecil has been a big surprise for the Blue Jays and gives them another excellent weapon to rely on.

    Cecil currently sports a 1.23 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. He has 17 strikeouts in 14-plus innings in 13 appearance and has only yielded earned runs in one of those outings.

    It seems Brett has found his niche and is looking to maintain this success all year. Good thing we chose him over Jeremy Jeffress.

Esmil Rogers: C

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    Rogers has been all over the place this season. He has yet to give up a home run, but he is also striking out less than half his batters. He has kept his walk total low to date (three walks in 13 innings) and it is clear that he has an electric arm.

    He has been average all season and we expect this young fireballer to increase the strikeout numbers and improve as the season progresses.

    Was he worth giving up John Farrell?

Steve Delabar: B+

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    Delabar has done very well this season, as is indicated with his ERA (1.84). That being said, his WHIP of 1.50 is much too high for a middle reliever.

    Delabar has walked 12 in 14-plus innings. Although his ERA looks good, some of his peripherals are curious.

    Delabar has been steady, but he needs to get his K/BB back down near his career averages.

Rajai Davis: B

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    Davis has provided exactly what you expect from your fourth outfielder.

    Davis has provided speed, aggression and has become a solid little pinch hitter late in the game. His ability to steal second and third is an excellent tool for manager John Gibbons to have in his back pocket late in games.

    As usual, Davis has crushed left-handed pitching to the tune of a .333 average (7-for-21). With Colby struggling against southpaws, it is an easy plug-in for Gibbons.

    Davis has also single-handedly won a game for the Blue Jays, when his throw home last week extended the ballgame against the Orioles, which the Blue Jays came back to win. Had he not made that throw, the Jays would have been swept in two straight series.

Emilio Bonifacio: C-

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    Bonifacio is another high-energy player that can run around the bases. He has always been a defensive liability but great with the bat.

    Unfortunately, he is currently doing neither.

    He has been a definite liability (primarily at second base) and his defense is the main reason he lost the leading role at second.

    Moreover, in 23 games, he has 21 strikeouts and only three walks. For a player with his tools, he needs to have a solid OBP, so his current clip of .232 will not cut it.

    Surprisingly, he also has zero stolen bases on the year.

    Maybe he should worry less about the sideways "Lo Viste" sign and more about helping his team.

Mark DeRosa: C+

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    DeRosa was brought in to be more of a player coach who could also play different positions around the park. His main goal was to help the progression of Brett Lawrie and to date, that is a...work in progress.

    He has come up with some big plays this season in limited playing time (April 10th, to be exact) and will continue to be called on to help spell some players in the dog days of summer and to help along many of the young players on the roster.

Henry Blanco: B-

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    As long as Blanco does a better job than what J.P. did catching R.A. Dickey's knuckleball, then everything else is meaningless.

    In six games, the 41-year-old Venezuelan has two hits and a walk.

    More importantly, after Dickey's inaugural game with Blanco as catcher, they have combined to give up only eight earned runs in 25-plus innings (2.85 ERA).

     

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