Toronto Blue Jays: Fact or Fluke?
It's undeniable that the Jays have gotten enough to a stronger start than what most predicted. Many Jays fans had their minds set on a rebuild with their championship window presumably closed. It's really not all that unreasonable to believe, given the potency of the Yankees lineup and the overall strength of the Red Sox. While the Red Sox have flown out of the gate, the Yankees haven't yet demonstrated the consistency they need. This has left some hopeful Jays fans wondering whether or not they could secure a Wild Card spot.
As much as even I believed that the Jays should have moved towards a rebuild, their playoff chances may very much be alive. First, compare the Yankees of today to the Jays of the past few years. The main criticism of the Jays was that they could only win on the long ball, and that was absolutely correct. In 2017, 56% of their runs were scored off home runs compared to a league average of 42.4% (Ian Hunter, Sporting News). Essentially, if your bats go cold, your wins will evaporate.
The Yankees were not much different, scoring 50.4% of their runs off the long ball. With the addition of Giancarlo Stanton this past winter, they may actually overtake the Jays for top spot in this category. If the Jays can learn to play small ball, for when their bats go cold, it's entirely possible for them to have a very successful season. Even just stringing hits together and running up pitch counts can chase a starter earlier in the game. The faster you can get to the bullpen, the better.
Now, I'm not saying the Jays are going to win the World Series. I'm not even saying they'll win the AL championship. But, if we've learned anything, it's that anything can happen come October. A capable team that knows how to win even when they aren't hitting well can only lead to good things.