Toronto Blue Jays: Grading the First Half

Adam GreuelSenior Analyst IJuly 17, 2008

These grades are based on my expectations for the players heading into this season.

A—Exceeds expectations

B—Meets expectations

C—Below expectations

D—Well below expectations

F—Complete failure


Starting Pitchers

1. Roy Halladay

This guy just leaves me speechless every year. Mr. Consistency is putting together a season that has him being the favorite to win the Cy Young. As of now, he is 11-6 with a 2.71 ERA. He leads the league in complete games with seven, first in innings pitched (146.1), Tied for fifth in wins (11), seventh in ERA (2.71), tied for eighth in K's (121), first in walks per nine innings pitched, and third in WHIP (1.00).

Grade: A+


2. A.J. Burnett

This guy has always been inconsistent and this year is no different. At his best, he clearly has the best stuff in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, he is not always at his best.

His last start was his best of the season and it came on three days rest. I am a firm believer that Burnett will have a much stronger second half...that is, if he is still with the Blue Jays. So far this season he is 10-8 with a 4.96 ERA, and his 126 strikeouts place him third in the entire MLB.

Grade: C-


3. Dustin McGowan

He started the year off on a roll but has struggled mightily as of late. It has recently been revealed that he has a slight tear in his rotator cuff, which is likely the reason for his recent pitching performances. He's still having an average season, but I believe the best is yet to come from this youngster, and he should be amazing when he comes back from his injury! So far this season he is 6-7 with a 4.37 ERA.

Grade: B-


4. Shaun Marcum

He was outperforming staff ace Roy Halladay before his unfortunate elbow injury. He has been sidelined since mid-June, but is expected back in a few weeks' time. He is still fifth in ERA (2.65) in the entire MLB, and he has accumulated a record of 5-4.

Grade: A


5. Jesse Litsch

I really expected Litsch to fall flat on his face this year, but he has proved me and many other Jays fans completely wrong. Despite his recent struggles, Litsch still has a very respectable 4.16 ERA and 8-6 record. I just hope he can get back to where he was at the beginning of the year, so we can make a good run in the second half.

Grade: A-




1. B.J. Ryan

He came back from Tommy John surgery surprisingly fast, but he still has been a very good closer for the team. Despite losing a couple of mph's on his fastball, and making every ninth inning he pitches a nerve-wracking one, Ryan has saved 18 games in 20 opportunities. He has a 2.84 ERA in 33 appearances.

Grade: B


2. Scott Downs

Easily the Jays' best reliever this year. He has pitched out of many jams for the team this year and has shown good stuff while doing it. He leads the team in appearances (41) and ERA (1.69).

Grade: A+


3. Jesse Carlson

An unknown commodity to begin the season, Carlson has proved to be quite a find the Jays. His strange delivery has him with a 2.10 in 39 appearances.

Grade: A+


4. Brian Tallet

He has improved after every single season in the majors, and this year is no different. Some rough appearances in his last six outings have caused his ERA to jump by over a run. He still has a 3.19 ERA in 34 games.

Grade: B+


5. Jason Frasor

Much better this year then last year, but he still has not been able to do what he did in 2005, his second year in the majors. In 31 appearances he has a 3.81 ERA.

Grade: B



1. Lyle Overbay

Since John Danks broke his hand back in '07, Overbay has not been the same hitter. He is no longer hitting to the gaps and hitting doubles at the same rate as he used to. On the plus side, he draws a ton of walks, and his OBP is great. His power is all but extinct since that freak injury as well.

Grade: B-


2. Marco Scutaro

Traded for in the offseason to provide some good depth coming off the bench, but injuries to the team have kept him on the field. He started off as the team's starting third baseman when Scott Rolen broke his finger.

He then went to shortstop when both David Eckstein and John McDonald were injured during the same game, and now he regularly plays second base for Aaron Hill, who has been injured since late May. Scutaro is hitting .261, while providing solid defense and giving the Jays a chance to win every night.

Grade: B+


3. Scott Rolen

His season started off on a sour note when a broken finger kept him out of the lineup for the first month of the season. He started off the season on fire when he came back, but has since cooled off and his numbers have slipped. He is hitting .267 with only six homers.

Grade: D+


4. David Eckstein

Wasn't expected for much power, but his defense has been pretty poor, and his average isn't even close to what it was a year ago. He is at .269 with 22 RBI.

Grade: D


5. Aaron Hill

He has been out since late May, but he is still eighth on the team in at-bats. A lot was expected of him after last year's great performance, and his recent contact extension, but his performance was very poor before his injury.

Grade: D


6. Rod Barajas

He was signed to be a backup for Gregg Zaun, and when Zaun went down with an injury, Barajas proved to be very valuable. He has since taken the No. 1 job from Zaun. A recent slippage in play has caused his average to drop down to .267, but he has eight homers in limited action.

Grade: A-


7. Gregg Zaun

His average is where it mostly will stay, and he still walks quite a bit. He lost the starting job while injured, but he still DH's often. He and Rod Barajas have proved to be quite a tandem.

Grade: B


8. Joe Inglett

A great find by J.P. Ricciardi, Inglett was claimed on waivers from the Cleveland Indians. He is the only Blue Jay now getting regular playing time with an average above 300 (.301).

Grade: A



1. Alex Rios

His average is pretty good (.285) and despite some mental lapses in the field, his fielding appears to be fine. The big mystery is the drop in power, as Rios has managed only four home runs this year! He better hit more in the second half or the Jays can kiss their chances goodbye.

Grade: C-


2. Vernon Wells

Injuries have been a problem for Wells this year. First it was his wrist and now his hamstring. If you take his stats and project them over 162 games, it is actually a damn fine season. He is hitting .287, and he would hit close to 30 homers and over 100 RBI over a 162-game season with his stats.

Grade: B


3. Matt Stairs

He had a GREAT season last year when filling in for the injured Reed Johnson, but as expected, his play has slipped due to age. He still has some nice pop, but his average is down to .253. He is still a valuable player to have coming off the bench.

Grade: B-


4. Brad Wilkerson

He was signed after being released by the Mariners, and his play over here is not much better. He is only playing because of an injury to Shannon Stewart, and he probably shouldn't have been signed.

Grade: C-


5. Shannon Stewart

He hit for a good average last year, and much of the same was expected for this season. However, he has only hit .240 so far, and a foot injury has kept him out of the lineup for over a month.

Grade: C-


6. Adam Lind

John Gibbons called him up to take left field from a struggling Shannon Stewart, but he was sent back down after struggling mightily, although he only had 20 at-bats to prove himself.

With Gaston now in charge, Lind has been made an everyday starter, and he has excelled. His average is up to a respectable .269 (around .350 since the hiring of Gaston), and Lind has shown some power with three home runs.

A lot is expected of this great young kid in the second half.

Grade: B+