Chicks dig the long ball. So do the Blue Jays.
After dealing ace Roy Halladay to the Phillies in the offseason, the Jays were expected to flounder near the bottom of the American League East in 2010. Losing Halladay — who already has eight wins — was supposed to cost the Blue Jays games. Beyond ERA, strikeouts and innings, the club had lost its stopper, the pitcher everyone knew could step in and put a losing skid to a sudden halt.
But Toronto has found peace of mind in the home run. At 33-25, the Blue Jays are two games better than they were on June 6, 2009. The reason? A major league-leading 97 home runs.
The unlikely sources of this power surge may be the most intriguing aspect of this club. Depending on their outlook, this is either the most exciting or unsettling element for Blue Jays fans.
It’s no surprise Vernon Wells has 15 homers. The three-time Gold Glove winner has tallied seasons of 33 and 32 homers in the past. It’s 29-year-old journeyman Jose Bautista who has awed the Blue Jay faithful with his breakout performance of 18 homers, already the most he’s totaled in his seven-year career.
Bautista would appear to have a better chance of staying hot than Alex Gonzalez. The shortstop — known for flashing the leather — has 12 homers thus far. Considering Gonzalez has failed to reach double figures six times since his rookie year, he’s the obvious candidate to drop off.
But don’t count the Blue Jays out yet. Though on the surface the offense looks to have nowhere to go but down, Toronto’s two most prolific performers from 2009 have slumped.
Aaron Hill and Adam Lind — who in 2009 hit 36 and 35 bombs, respectively — are each hitting below their weight. Hill has struggled with a hamstring injury and is batting .186 with eight homers and 19 RBIs, while Lind sits at a .210 clip with eight homers and 30 RBIs.
Hitting in the two slots directly ahead of Wells and Bautista in the Blue Jays order, Hill and Lind don’t need to hit it out of the park. They just need to set the table.
If they can raise their averages, the Blue Jays’ rotation will get run support that Halladay would envy.