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Toronto Blue Jays Without Kendrys Morales

Shaun Doyle

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Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Episode 10 of the Locked on Blue Jays podcast features a discussion on how the injury to Kendrys Morales will impact the Toronto Blue Jays

Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan! He is the founder and senior editor of JaysFromtheCouch.com Shaun is the voice of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared in several TV and radio spots. When not writing or talking Blue Jays, you can find Shaun enjoying his beautiful wife and two sons! Follow him on Twitter @DoyleJFtC

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Toronto Blue Jays

Blue Jays’ Steve Pearce has been quietly amazing thus far

Jeff Quattrociocchi

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

An unlikely leadoff hitter, Steve Pearce has been a nice boost for the Toronto Blue Jays to start the 2018 season

Sometimes, it’s worth writing a post just to give kudos to a player. Today, that player is Steve Pearce. So far this season, our old friend Sleeve has been phenomenal. While his performance has been too good to sustain for a full season, it has been truly good. It’s not been a luck-fuelled bit of smoke and mirrors.

After his start to 2017, that means something.

Let’s start with his overall production at the plate. In 41 plate appearances, heading into Thursday night’s game, he has produced a 173 wRC+, the 19th best mark among batters with 40+ PA. While very good, this is a level of production that Pearce has maintained before over 13-game bursts.

His great start only becomes truly special when we shift focus to his xwOBA. At this point, his .503 xwOBA ranks second only to Mookie Betts among 274 batters with 30+ AB. Interestingly, this marks the best 13-game xwOBA of his career (at least during the Statcast era). The implication is that while his results at the plate have been very good (high wRC+), the contact he’s created probably justified an even better set of results.

The two overarching keys to Pearce’s 2018 success has been effective contact and avoiding the strikeout. If we focus on his xwOBA on batted balls, Pearce’s .562 mark ranks 11th among batters with 30+ batted balls. Once more, his mark after 13 games this season is better than any 13-game stretch he’s put together since the Statcast era began.

He’s avoided strikeouts nearly as well as he’s made effective contact, with his 12.2% strikeout rate good for 24th best in the majors and nearly half the MLB average (23%). While his walk rate (7.3%) is below-average (9.2%), he has managed to produce a better-than-average walk-to-strikeout ratio (0.60 vs. 0.40).

Among Blue Jay hitters, Pearce reigns supreme, thus far. If we set a minimum of 30 PA, leaving Teoscar Hernandez and Luke Maile aside, Pearce leads the team in some key metrics: wRC+, xwOBA, xwOBA on batted balls and ISO (.316, tenth-best in the majors). With respect to BB/K, Pearce ranks second after Yangervis Solarte (1.38).

Given his disproportionate usage against lefties, it’s worth asking if his success has come mainly against lefties. Nope, he’s been solid overall against both lefties (202 wRC+, .523 xwOBA) and righties (137 wRC+, .476 xwOBA). That said, there have been subtle differences in how he’s achieved success against lefties and righties.

Against lefties (23 PA), he’s been all about the power—he’s struck out a bit more often (17.4%), but has generated a great deal of power (.381 ISO), supported by extremely strong contact (.626 xwOBA on batted balls). When he’s faced righties (18 PA), plate discipline has been more of a strength—he’s struck out only once. He’s produced less power than he has against lefties, but still a whole lot of power (.235 ISO) supported by fantastic contact (.493 xwOBA on batted balls).

Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see the level of production Pearce can maintain over the full 2018 season. It’s highly unlikely that this is it, it’s just too good. The reason I wrote this post was not to project this small sample performance over 162 games. Instead, I wanted to raise a glass to a guy who’s been the Blue Jays best hitter this season, but who’s been overshadowed by some of the other great Jays performances we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy this season.

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Toronto Blue Jays

Blue Jays Benefiting From Yangervis Solarte

Shaun Doyle

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Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

Locked On Blue Jays explores the impact Yangervis Solarte is having on the Toronto Blue Jays so far in 2018

This episode of the Locked on Blue Jays podcast features a look at what is behind the early success for the Toronto Blue Jays. Their 2018 is off to a (somewhat) suprising start and it is because they have addressed their need for depth. Their roster is better equipped to deal with injuries. One depth piece who is having a major impact in 2018 is Yangervis Solarte. We explore why.

Subscribe to the Locked on Blue Jays podcast on iTunes and Google Play!

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Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays Monday Musings- 4/16/18

Shaun Doyle

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Locked on Blue Jays presents Monday Musings, everything you need to know about the Toronto Blue Jays to start the work week

Locked on Blue Jays Host, Shaun Doyle, brings you Monday Musings, everything you need to know to start your work week and talk about the Toronto Blue Jays around the water cooler. We’ve got rain outs, Aaron Sanchez and the Blue Jays’ depth leading to their 9-5 start.

Subscribe to the Locked on Blue Jays podcast on iTunes and Google Play!

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