The Blue Jays keep pace, though Matt Chapman, Vlad Jr. is struggling

from Pedro Moura
FOX Sports MLB Writer

ANAHEIM – He is expected to be one of the best in baseball this season Toronto Blue Jays‘The offense is closer to one of the worst in the sport in nearly two months.

The rest of the list helped make up for the shortcomings of the offense, keeping the team at a respectful pace as June approached. But the list expected more.

“We threw the ball very well and defended the ball really well,” said ace Kevin Gaussman, one of the best players on the team so far. “We just didn’t have timely strikes.”

In fact, Toronto was the worst team in the league in terms of strikes with runners in the starting position. Until May 26, Blue Jace’s OPS in these situations was 135 points worse than at empty bases – a remarkable, unsustainable difference.

Basic numbers do not support such statistics. Jace’s running differential is equal, but they hit the ball much harder than the average team.

“There’s unused room for improvement,” said Matt Chapman of the third baseman. “I think everyone knows we are much more capable than ever. But we are still in a good place.

In some cases, it is difficult to blame luck. For others, it is excessive aggression. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. admitted last week, when he arrived at Angel Stadium, that he has expanded his attacking zone more this season than during his 2021 MVP caliber. That was the main difference between the two years, he said. no adjustments to the pitchers made against him.

“But I’m working to be more selective,” Guerrero said through translator Hector LeBron.

LeBron, a longtime friend of manager Charlie Montoyo, came up with the idea for a jacket that Blue Jays wear after home runs, simply called the “Blue Jacket”. Since last season, it has been decorated with the names of many countries that players and employees are considered part of their heritage: Brazil, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Japan, South Korea and others.

This is a diverse club house. “Probably more than any team in the big league,” Chapman said proudly.

Players value their time with the jacket, dance and run through the dugout. Overall, the team seems to be dancing and joking more than most. Central player George Springer, their boisterous leader and the only striker to stand out this season, can be found dancing on the club’s 2Pac before a recent match. The star second-year star Alec Manoa is in constant conversation with everyone around him.

“This team we have here,” said Cavan Biggio, “is a lot of fun.”

Almost too much fun. Gaussman rightly noted that Jace has played the most single-run games in the sport and has performed well in those games. They made many nights interesting.

“It’s good for us when we get to September and we have meaningful games that will come down to one performance,” Gaussman said. “Our revelers know how to make one-run matches. This is good for us. But at the same time, it just doesn’t give you any leeway, having one-run games all the time. This adds more pressure to any terrain. “

Gaussman spent last season with 107 wins for the San Francisco Giants. He understands the role that luck plays in a successful season. He calls the good bounces “BS hits”, an essential part of any hot series. Jace, he said, had not taken advantage of any of them.

“You have to think that at some point the tide will change,” Gaussman said.

The turn may not come soon enough for Chapman, who can’t wait to contribute to his first season with Toronto.

“I’m not getting the results I want, but I was also unlucky this season,” Chapman said. “I think I’m in the top 10% in the big leagues in terms of barrel percentage and exit speed. I hit balls hard. I hit the ball a lot in the barrel. I just don’t get hits.”

He was almost right in all his claims. As he spoke, Chapman’s average exit rate ranked 95th in the league and his barrel rate was 84th, according to Statcast. As a good measure, his frequency of persecution was in the 90th percentile, which means that he was also extremely patient. Still, his average hit was only .187.

Five hours later, Chapman appeared as a pinch late in a close match against the Angels. With his first swing of the night, he crashed a low liner in the middle at 107 mph. Baseballs hit at this speed and land at an angle of 58% of the time.

But Chapman’s pad found the glove of Angels infielder Luis Rengifo. It seemed that his bad luck would continue. Rengifo then groped, Chapman reached base and the equalizer scored. The Blue Jays were about to win another match. They won another game with one run the next night when another Chapman drive fell inches from the outfielder and the run-offs scored.

Maybe the tide has shifted.

“We are going in the right direction and this is one of those things that will develop over the course of the season,” Chapman said. “It’s better to finish hard than to start hard.”

Toronto’s spectacular start should not erase Blue Jays’ pre-season expectations. Talent and excitement remain.

Pedro Moura is a national baseball writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the Dodgers for three seasons for The Athletic, and before that, Angels and Dodgers for five seasons for the Orange County Register and the LA Times. He previously covered his alma mater, USC, for The son of Brazilian immigrants, he grew up in the suburbs of Southern California. His first book, How to Beat a Broken Game, came out this spring. Follow him on Twitter @pedromoura.

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