We knew they were in there. We knew they couldn’t hide for all six month of the season. They have finally come out to play. The hitters. Real, honest to goodness hitters. Right there, right at the top of the Blue Jays lineup. And its a darn good thing they are, because the starting rotation has been selected with all the effectiveness of somebody using a dartboard and blindfold, if you catch my drift. But enough about the pitching, let’s talk about four guys with bats in their hands.
Brett Lawrie, who had been beating everything into the ground for about a month and a half, is now the lead-off hitter, and, as noted about a gazillion other places in the media, has taken to it like a fish to water.
Colby Rasmus, the original Rassmasfarrian, twitter hater, country boy, has been slotted into the number 2 spot in the order. he is killing it. Today he killed it in the most killing way possible, drowning the Marlins with a grand slam in the top of the 9th, off the facing of the second deck, no less.
Jose Bautista…. to paraphrase a line from Casablanca: “We’ll always have Bautista.”
Encarnacion. Eddie E, Double E, EE. He of the right-arm-wing-flap-home-run-trot. If there is slack from the three men in front of him, he is eager to pick it up.
Indulge me in a little chart, if you would. In June, each hitter, listed first with wOBA (weighted on base average, a catch all rate stat for offense). As a reminder, .320 is league average. And then by wRC+, a rating against the league where 100 is the average hitter.
Brett Lawrie .371 135
Colby Rasmus .397 152
Jose Bautista .500 223
Eddie Encarnacion .411 162
That’s just silly. It’s pretty impossible to pitch through that part of the order. Somebody will burn you.
Lawrie has found a little patience and a little power. He has only one more strikeout than walk. He has had lots of extra-base hits too, good enough for a .203 ISO (slugging% with the singles taken out).
Coby Rasmus has found his power stroke, too. Half of his home run total has been tallied in June. His adjusments in the box, and with his mindset, have made him far more than a potent table setter in the number 2 slot.
Encarnacion looked human in May, his wRC+ dipped from 181 in April, down to 118. That seemed to indicate that his weaknesses were being exploited by opposing pitching. He’s cranked it up to 162 again in June, making the adjusment and picking up hits.
I have saved the most bestest for last.
Jose Bautista has 85 plate appearances in June. He has reached base 36 times. Of those times, 18 have been hits, 18 have been walks. Of those 18 hits, 11 have been home runs.
Jose has struck out 10 times.
Yes, you read that correctly, the player with the most home runs in baseball over the last 23 days has homered more often than he has struck out.
Now, one last weird stat about Bautista’s June success. It has to do with BABIP. Go ahead, click the link, it won’t hurt, I swear. It will save me the trouble of trying to explain it here, too. Bautista’s career BABIP is .270, which is a best guess as to his ‘true talent’ for putting balls in play for hits. That’s low, but since he’s been such a prolific home run hitter (they aren’t in play), it really hasn’t hurt him. Lots of players ride a hot streak by taking a BABIP of .370 or .400 around with them everywhere they go for two or three weeks. As a rule, that kind for luck runs out. Maybe it doesn’t bottom out completely, but balls eventually start finding gloves again. You might guess that Bautista is combining a power surge, with a bit of good luck on hits falling in. No, not quite.
His BABIP is an anemic .156. He’s had almost nothing go his way when it stays in the park. It just leaves the park over 30% of the time when he puts it in the air.
Everybody wants to be the king, but the Ace is back.