Toronto Blue Jays Using Dynamic Offense to Surge Atop the AL East

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Toronto Blue Jays Using Dynamic Offense to Surge Atop the AL East
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

With their three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, the Toronto Blue Jays improved their record to 26-22 and have now taken sole possession of first place in the American League East.

The biggest reason for the Blue Jays’ success in 2014 has been their offense. And no, it’s not the type of offense you would normally associate with this team.

Over the past few seasons, Toronto’s hitters have developed a reputation for being overly reliant on the home run at the expense of other aspects of the offense, such as total hits or walks. Critics have often accused the team of having an “all-or-nothing” mentality where its hitters are going up to plate only looking to knock the ball out of the park.

Since 2009, the Blue Jays have finished among the top five teams in the AL in home runs each season, but have made it into the top five for total hits just once during that span.

That trend finally appears to have changed this season.

While Toronto is still leading the AL in home runs, the team also ranks second in total runs scored, first in doubles, fifth in triples, second in hits and sixth in walks.

Instead of attempting to pull the ball during every at-bat, Toronto’s hitters have looked patient at the plate and have been more willing to hit the ball the other way in order to beat defensive shifts.

Simply put, what was once considered a “homer-happy” offense has suddenly become a lot more dynamic, and the team is finding multiple ways of scoring runs.

That’s why it’s no surprise to see several players from the Blue Jays all over the MLB leaderboards for various categories.

Outfielder Jose Bautista’s 41 walks lead the majors. Melky Cabrera is the leading the league in hits with 64. First baseman Edwin Encarnacion is tied for third in home runs with 13.

While these aforementioned players have certainly stepped up and performed exceptionally well, the Blue Jays have also gotten contributions from the rest of the lineup.

Toronto remains the only team in the AL to have at least six players that have hit seven or more home runs each. All but three members of the starting lineup are also batting over .250.

The change in the team’s offensive approach should at least be partly credited to new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer’s philosophy of being more selective at the plate and hitting the ball to all fields.

Judging from the results up this point, it appears that buying into Seitzer’s teachings has greatly paid off for the team’s hitters.

As long as the pitching holds up, the Blue Jays should win plenty of games this season with their new and improved offensive attack.

 

*All stats are from MLB.com and are current as of 7 pm Eastern Time on May 22, 2014.

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