Monday, July 30, 2012

Flirting With .500


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Image courtesy of Daylife/Getty Images
For all the ups and down the Blue Jays have endured during the 2012 season, you'd probably think the team would be much worse off than they actually are.

At times they have looked like one of the biggest offensive powerhouses in the league. And other times, the Blue Jays have been clearly overmatched. All that, and they're still only one game above .500 and sit just three games out of a playoff spot.

For a team that has had three of their five starters go down to significant injury, their closer shelved for the season, their star slugger on the DL, and losing their everyday catcher with a broken hand, the Blue Jays have remained surprisingly resilient.

Yes, John Farrell may look like he has aged about 20 years this season, but the fact remains that his squad has managed to keep their heads above .500 for most of the season. Here's how closely the Blue Jays have flirted with .500 through 101 games.

Although Toronto has never been more than 5 games above .500 at any point this season, at the same time they've never been more than 2 games below .500.

Now, treading water simply isn't going to cut it if the Blue Jays are going to be contenders any time soon. But I think their ability to hold it together despite all the injuries is a very promising sign for the next few seasons.

That's not to say any team isn't immune to the hardships that have plagued the Toronto Blue Jays this season. There's simply no way everyone on the 25-man roster can stay healthy the entire 162 game schedule.

What's important is that there are other players around to pick up the slack. In order to make a run at the playoffs, not every player on the roster necessarily needs to have a career year. But they do need to pull their weight. And for the most part, I think Toronto's starting nine has done exactly that.

My fear is that the offense might regress next season while the pitching plays catchup and continues to go through growing pains in 2013. But Ricky Romero can't get much worse, Brandon Morrow will hopefully be healthy, and all should be contributing factors towards an improved starting rotation.

If you're wondering how long it's been since Toronto has been even 14 games or more above .500, you have to travel back to August of 1999. That of course was the last time the Blue Jays were even close to making the playoffs, as they had a one game lead for the Wild Card on August 11th 1999.

Then on August 13th, the Blue Jays relinquished the Wild Card to the Red Sox, and Boston never looked back down the stretch. Somehow, Toronto would finish the season a full 10 games back of the Red Sox for the Wild Card.

As great as it's been that they've hovered around the .500 mark, you can see that an even record simply isn't going to cut it to make the playoffs. Competition is as fierce as ever, as it seems like the playing field has been evened this season with the addition of another Wild Card spot.

Just like with anything, I think luck plays a huge part in baseball. The 2012 Toronto Blue Jays have not been lucky this year by any means, and yet have still somehow managed to tread very close to .500 all season long.

If lady luck can pay them a visit more often next year, (as opposed to Dr. James Andrews) then who knows ... maybe playoffs might not seem like such a far fetched idea after all.

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