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  1. On May 1, 2003, the Detroit Tigers were 3-21.


    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — April 29, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

  2. blow it up, etc.

    Comment by Frito Bandito — April 29, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

  3. How many teams in your fancy chart were projected to make the playoffs by 77% of Fangraphs’ staff prior to the season? Answer me that!

    Don’t mind me, I’m just a Jays fan in denial…

    Comment by Skin Blues — April 29, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

  4. Hard to believe that the main pieces of a 69-93 Marlins could do so badly yet again.

    Comment by Todd — April 29, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

  5. “There are 32 teams in that sample. One of them — the 1996 Twins — made the playoffs. ”

    Minor edit– 2006 Twins.

    Comment by CPT — April 29, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

  6. “There are 32 teams in that sample. One of them — the 1996 Twins — made the playoffs.”

    2006 Twins, I think you meant.

    Comment by Jason B — April 29, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

  7. Yeah Reyes, JJ and Buehrle really caused the Marlins to tank last year. And Dickey just destroyed the Mets’ chances at making the playoffs.

    I’m always amazed to see people make this same tired argument, especially people that would frequent a site like this. “Let’s use hindsight to make an asinine argument and try to look clever”. Congrats!

    Comment by Skin Blues — April 29, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

  8. Your criteria is eliminating one of the more incredible comebacks, the 2005 Astros. They were just sort of lousy in April, going 9-13 and being 6 games out of first by the end of the month. But then May hit soon they were 15-30 and 14 games out of first. And they ended up in the world series, where they got swept by my favorite team.

    So Jays fans, don’t despair. You could still get swept in the world series.

    Comment by Huisj — April 29, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  9. The main pieces of those Marlins also added RA Dickey, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Brandon Morrow to the mix. It’s beyond stupid to say that it’s the same team.

    Comment by Alex — April 29, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

  10. This was a team that had Mike Maroth as an ace, Dmitri Young playing outfield and Brandon Inge without power as a catcher, among other chracters.

    Comment by Benzedrine — April 29, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

  11. What a disaster.
    *Btw who thought Jose reyes would last even half a season on that awful turf? (certainly not me)

    Comment by Gleb — April 29, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

  12. Most agreed the 2013 Jays were going to be a teams of “ifs”. Most if not all of the important “ifs” have gone the wrong way so far:

    1. Reyes’ health?
    2. Rasmus takes next step?
    3. RA Dickey still Cy Young style?
    4. JJ’s health and effectiveness?
    5. Morrow takes the next step?
    6. Romero as overqualifed #5 SP?
    7. Melky still Melky au natural?
    8. Lawrie’s health and progression?
    9. Bonafacio and Maicer decent at 2B?
    10. Santos’ health as set-up man?
    11. Oliver have one more season in the tank?

    Only a few “ifs” have gone well:

    1. EE for real?
    2. Baustista’s wrist intact?
    3. Jannsen as full time closer?
    4. Lind as service-able DH platoon?

    It has been horrible to watch. Bad defence, poor pitching, no hitting. But this will just make is sweeter when we squeak into the playoffs!

    Comment by Switters — April 29, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

  13. Injuries have taken a heavy toll on the Blue Jays in April. The Reyes one is the most devastating, but Dickey has been pitching with a sore back, Josh Johnson is experiencing Johnson-like injuries, Bautista missed several games and still seems to be playing at less than 100%, and Lawrie missed more than half the month. Not to mention, Lind gone on paternity leave. These nagging wounds were a little too much for a newly assembled team to handle month 1. With Reyes out so long, it goes without saying the Jays need Johnson, Bautista, and Dickey to stay close to 100% to make a playoff push.

    Comment by Jerry — April 29, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

  14. Good point. If we can agree that the Blue Jays have playoff caliber talent, perhaps it would be revealing to see: of the playoff teams since 2003 how many had a month as poor as the Jays’ April?

    Comment by Rallyk — April 29, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

  15. In fairness, it’s not really hindsight. A lot of people saying the 2013 Blue Jays were being overrated in the offseason have been using that rationale for months.

    The 2013 Jays are certainly a better team than the 2012 Marlins, but not 30+ wins better.

    Comment by Jonathan — April 29, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

  16. Weird, I must have missed the part where the gradual wear and tear of playing on bad turf caused Reyes to break his ankle in KC.

    Comment by Spiggy — April 29, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

  17. I’d argue that subtracting Stanton evens out the Bautista argument. Past that, Encarnacion had legitimate questions going in as to whether he was the 4+ WAR player he was in 2012 or the sub-2 WAR player he’s been every other year of his career (So far, he looks much closer to the latter).

    That leaves the real difference as Morrow and Dickey, who while both potentially great players, both had very real question marks going in.

    Frankly, the Blue Jays’ performance so far shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Going in, they had the same margin of error as the Red Sox: could be a division leader, could be a cellar dweller.

    Comment by Jonathan — April 29, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

  18. Does this excuse Loria’s firesale?

    Comment by Leftfield Limey — April 29, 2013 @ 2:01 pm

  19. Good overview assessment. Hope you are right, but don’t think that the core offensive players can get the job done, based on last three or four years.

    Comment by Les Nord — April 29, 2013 @ 2:02 pm

  20. The 1973 Cards got off to a horrendous start. 3-16 by may 1, 9 games back of the Cubs, who were 13-8, and also looking up at a 12-8 Mets team. They were also behind the Pirates, which had one the division fairly handily in 1972 but stumbled out of the gate. This was the year Steve Blass imploded.

    By May 15 the cards were 9-23, 11.5 games back of the 22-13 Cubs and back of the 17-15 Mets.

    Bu August 5 the Cards had a 5 game division lead at 61-50, having gone 52-79 from their low-water market.

    They proceeded to lose 8 in a row and 11-12. They were in first as late as 9/11. They finished 81-81, a game and a half back of the Mets.

    So yeah, they didn’t make it, even though the rest of the division was pretty mediocre. But they did actually have a fairly substantial lead at one point, and had the best pythag in the division.

    The Red Sox have been good across the board, pitching, hitting and fielding, so far this year. So the start isn’t a fluke, but not sure they can keep it up (obviously not this pace). yanks have weathered the injuries, and the Orioles still have the smoke machine and mirrors evidently, or just some good players, but I think everyone may be bunched up near year end.

    They need Johnson to stay healthy, which is looking iffy now, and they need Morrow to pick it up. His swinging strike % is way down.

    Comment by Wobatus — April 29, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

  21. Whoops. The Cards went 52-27 to go from last to first by 5 games by August 5, 1973. But no one seemed to want that Division.

    Comment by Wobatus — April 29, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

  22. I’m not sure how the turf caused him to awkwardly slide into a base…

    Comment by Fabian — April 29, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

  23. I think it would be more interesting if you could somehow filter out to only teams that were “supposed to be” good. Are the struggles of the 2003 Tigers or the 2009 Nationals really relevant to this year’s Blue Jays?

    Comment by maguro — April 29, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  24. They began the 2003 season with a 9-game losing streak in which they scored 14 runs and allowed 54. Four of the ninth loss’s starters ended that day with a batting average below .100, and four more were below .190. The ninth loss was a two-hitter started by Esteban Loaiza.

    The loser of that ninth game, Adam Bernero, went on to pitch 100 innings for the 2003 Tigers, during which he racked up a 4.83 K/9, 5.20 FIP, and 11% HR/FB. As a general rule, your K/9 should be higher than your FIP. Over those 100 innings, Romero’s WPA was -1.991.

    But why pile on one guy? Shortstop Shane Halter finished the year with a .269 OBP and 5 doubles in 360 at-bats.

    I am fascinated. Far too fascinated. I may spend the rest of the day looking up the 2003 Tigers. Somebody stop me.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — April 29, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

  25. My response:

    Comment by Mike C — April 29, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

  26. That is almost as bad as the 88 Orioles

    Comment by Matt — April 29, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  27. I remain baffled as to why everyone was so enamored of the Jays before the season started. Didn’t everybody realize that what they added was a bunch of the guys who failed spectacularly as a group in Miami last year? And that the Marlins of last year also tanked in the face of misguided preseason high hopes for the very same acquisitions? And lest you say “well, the Jays have RA Dickey, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion too” remember that the Marlins had Anibal Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Hanley Ramirez.

    Comment by rbt — April 29, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  28. assuming they do get hot, their schedule works out for them to make up for a lot of lost ground. it’s a big if, though. they play a lot against the east in may. not hard to imagine that division looking very different by the end of next month.

    Comment by tylersnotes — April 29, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

  29. Here I was hoping for some analysis on what the Jays are actually doing wrong… ie, swinging at too many pitches outside the zone, not hitting enough pitches in the zone, striking out way too much by being aggressive when pitchers can’t thit the strike zone at all… having the lowest babip in the league, not to mention terribly inconsistant SP.

    Comment by Johnhavok — April 29, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

  30. The conclusion that the odds are seriously against them is undoubtedly right. The method though leaves quite a bit to be desired. Using only a top end for winning percentage results in comparisons to truly bad teams (like the 05-07 Royals) that aren’t really relevant. I would venture a guess that no more than 3 or 4 of the teams had any serious support prior to the season as a potential playoff contender, and 2 of them did indeed play very well the remainder of the season.

    Comment by Mike Green — April 29, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  31. I see there is much discussion of this above, mostly accusing this view of being taken in hindsight. However, I said this way back in November, when the Marlins-Jays trade was made, only to be pooh-poohed by others on this site and elsewhere.

    Comment by rbt — April 29, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

  32. They had four hitters who qualified for the hitting title. Two of those hitters had negative WAR and the four of them together combined for .7 WAR.

    Matt Roney was allowed to pitch 100 innings himself; 100.2 in fact, the exact same as Bernero. Roney, not wanting to be outdone by Bernero for historical terribleness, had a BB/9 (4.29) and FIP (5.99) higher than his K/9 (4.20).

    Comment by l1ay — April 29, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

  33. Switters, good summary, but I have one remaining question: is your name a reference to Tom Robbins’ CIA agent in Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates?

    Comment by Trotter76 — April 29, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

  34. yeah but he wrecked his ankle on grass..cleat might not have caught if he would have been at home on the turf…so ..irony?

    Comment by ABsteve — April 29, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

  35. “they finished five games behind Texas in the division race”

    Texas? Seriously? The A’s gettin’ no respect.

    Comment by V — April 29, 2013 @ 2:54 pm

  36. Exactly. While the Jays obviously have little chance of making the post season simply because they are so buried, this is one of the many examples of where historical analysis is almost worthless. As several people have pointed out, most teams that have had bad Aprils are bad teams. Not so with the Jays (and ANA especially, which is an excrllent team), thus their chances of making a spectacular comeback and getting a post-season berth is much greater than “history” would suggest.

    Comment by MGL — April 29, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

  37. All I can say is the last 3 years one team each year has truly made over their team – either through free agency or trades – in an effort to “buy” a championship. The 2011 Red Sox, 2012 Marlins and 2013 Blue Jays. The Sox missed the playoffs by bombing out on the greatest day in baseball history — Sep 28, 2011 and then were terrible before selling off their team last year. The Marlins were garbage despite their free spending ways. Now the Blue Jays are looking miserable. Additionally, the Dodgers have added millions to their payroll and are only at .500 right now. It really looks like the only way to build a winner is from within with only a few key additions through free agency.

    Comment by Trotter76 — April 29, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

  38. There were definitely reasons to be skeptical that the Marlins trade would put the Blue Jays in the World Series, but it was definitely a big, big win for them. I don’t blame people for getting excited- I know I did. The Jays are a team that hasn’t had much to get excited about for twenty years. Planning the parade was an overraction, sure. But saying that they would do the same as the Marlins because “THEY GOT THE SAME GUYZ LOL” is equally shortsighted.

    The Blue Jays of last year were a 73 win team with awful luck with injuries and ineffectiveness. They’ve continued to have some of that so far this year- their BABIP is the worst in baseball, and that won’t last (neither will Boston’s league leading mark). The playoffs were always going to be hard in the AL East, and the start has made that harder. The Reyes injury doesn’t help, but injuries are a part of life in baseball.

    There’s still 136 games left in the season, and the Jays are about 7 games back of the wild card. I think they’ve got time to make that up.

    Comment by DaveC — April 29, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

  39. I’d stop you but I too am transfixed by their numbers.

    Their innings pitched leader had a 2.13 K/9
    Two players tied for the team lead in saves with 5.
    Four pitchers total reached 50 strikeouts for the year, all of whom had an ERA of over 5.50.

    There needs to be a 30 for 30 feature on this team.

    Comment by Glorpo — April 29, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

  40. This is a combination of a bad start and a lot of people overrating the Blue Jays. I argued with people that their rotation probably wasn’t good enough to take 1st but nobody wanted to believe me. People said Romero would be back and Dickey couldn’t possibly struggle, Buehrle was going to post his normal numbers no matter that he is a year older and moving into a poor park and that Morrow’s last year wasn’t the fluke it appeared to be when you dug deeper.

    They had a quality roster going into the season but no big reason to assume they’d be in 1st.

    Comment by Ender — April 29, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

  41. Encarnacion had legitimate questions going in as to whether he was the 4+ WAR player he was in 2012 or the sub-2 WAR player he’s been every other year of his career (So far, he looks much closer to the latter).

    Curious. Why? His batted ball profile is better than it was last year so far. His contact and K rate are similar. He’s on pace for 3+ WAR so far, and that’s with a BABIP of .208, which would be 60 points off his career average, and historically low for someone with his batted ball profile.

    Comment by djw — April 29, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

  42. I am.
    Goes like this(probably in Spanish): “I’m Jose Reyes. I’m gonna steal this base right here, season’s young, I’m off to a ridiculous start right now. Yeah, got this base easy as I could have signed out here in KC. They got a nice young little team here, heading in the right direction. They got some nice grass out here, too, I wouldn’t have to be playing on the turf half the season. Nah. Can’t think like that. No I word, dammit! Focus. Oh , that’s a pretty good throw, gotta get down…” Injury.

    Comment by BronxBomber — April 29, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

  43. Terrible conclusion – if you can’t see that there was much, much more talent on this team than the Marlins team, you’re ignoring the obvious. Stating three names at the top (that aren’t even comparable in terms of overall talent) and ignoring the rest of the team is a joke…

    Let alone the fact that most of the players the Blue Jays received were generally the better performers on the Marlins, and were not the reason for the tank.

    Comment by Marc — April 29, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

  44. Interestingly, Vegas has them at 30-1, after opening in March at 10-1. If I’m reading this article correctly, it sounds like 30-1 is a reasonable approximation for just the playoffs.

    Question time. Does Vegas believe, in part, then that:
    1. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results here with the Jays. They remain a talented team, and this April hiccup aside, are remain capable of winning 89 games despite the injuries and ineffectiveness

    2. The AL East is filled with teams overperfoming their records at the moment and that 4 or more teams winning 85ish games is not out of the realm of possibility in this division, lowering the win total required for winning the division

    Comment by kreiger — April 29, 2013 @ 3:18 pm

  45. you are forgetting the deficit which dave noted.

    Comment by binqasim — April 29, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  46. If it wasn’t before, it surely is now.

    Comment by BronxBomber — April 29, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

  47. They won their last two games to close out the season, beating the perhaps-mailing-it-in Twins, who had already wrapped up the division. Arguably the more exciting of the pair was the penultimate game, wherein Detroit rallied from an 8-0 deficit to win 9-8, scoring the winner off of none other than Jesse Orosco in the last appearance of his career.

    That one I looked up. I remember the last game because I saw it. It was televised, at least in part — no idea why it would have been a national game, so they must have just cut to the last inning(s) for the occasion. When the final out was recorded, saving the Tigers from matching the ’62 Mets’ loss total (they had already secured a higher wpct), confetti fell, celebratory music blasted, and the scoreboards flashed words of cheer. It was all . . . strange? Nice? Who knows? Ten years on, it remains.

    Comment by AC of DC — April 29, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

  48. Sadly, this is only the first month of a 3-year arc with these core players. For both 2014 and 2015, Toronto has more guys under contract than any other team, and is currently third in money committed (behind the LA clubs) for both years. They didn’t gut the farm system to get these guys, but they did lose a few vital organs – just enough to stay on perpetual life support. Ah, well, the Tampa/Oakland model hasn’t won any WS titles either. Buck and Pat should be happy – they’re safe to genuflect to the Yankees and Red Sox for years to come!

    Comment by JD Rocks — April 29, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

  49. Probably the 2012 Angels and they serve as the cautionary tale that no matter how talented a team you are, digging an April hole pretty much dooms you.

    They played .580 ball after April, a better percentage than every AL playoff team had over the entire season save the Yankees, yet they still finished 4 GB of the WC.

    Comment by l1ay — April 29, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

  50. You’ve really only told half the story here. Prior to the season, the story was that the Jays are favorites and that Alex Anthopolous is a genius, while the Yankees were finished and Cashman is clueless. You should probably also mention that a big part of the Jay’s trouble so far is that Cashman’s clueless moves have all looked pretty prescient so far, and that 6 of Toronto’s 17 losses have been to the Yanks.

    Comment by Jason H — April 29, 2013 @ 3:31 pm

  51. Does anyone know if an easy way to tell what percentage of playoff teams over the last X years had a month where they played .350 or less ball?

    I feel like this would be a better benchmark.

    After all, we believe the Jays are a playoff quality team playing crappily whereas the sample above is mostly teams that we knew to be bad who, in fact, played bad.

    Comment by Marco — April 29, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

  52. The Matt Roney line above I thought was untoppable, but the saves thing…

    The 2003 Tigers finished the season with 27 saves and 19 blown saves.

    In games started by Matt Roney and Adam Bernero, the Tigers were 2-26.

    Fernando Rodney allowed 10 stolen bases in 29.2 innings.

    Nate Cornejo issued a four-pitch walk every ten innings.

    Team starting hitters’ median slash line: .240/.314/.371.

    Catcher Matt Walbeck played 59 games and posted -1.2 WAR and an OPS+ of 18. Walbeck thus ended his ENTIRE CAREER with a line of -3.3 career WAR.

    I can’t stop.

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — April 29, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

  53. …that said, a big part of the reason Toronto has looked so bad is surely to do with the schedule they’ve played so far. They’ve played seven against the Yankees, and have also had series with Boston, Baltimore, and Detroit. …meanwhile, Boston just spent four games fattening up on Houston.

    Comment by Jason H — April 29, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

  54. Right, because the players the Jays didn’t get from the Marlins have something to do with this.

    Reyes was at 4.2 wins last year. The rest of the offense was worth 7.1 wins together. The Jays did not trade for those crappy players.

    The Jays have been terrible this year. But the supporting cast on the Marlins of last year was a pretty poor reason to predict that.

    Comment by Ari Collins — April 29, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

  55. That’s actually a really interesting point about Encarnacion. His xBabip is .342? Roughly 135 points separating reality from projected??


    Comment by jcxy — April 29, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

  56. So Reyes getting injured, Lawrie missing the first 15 games with injury, Bautista missing 7 games, Santos falling due to injury and the starting pitching collectively throwing the worst first 10 starts of any team in the MLB has nothing to do with the poor start right? Thanks Captain Hindsight. Overhyped? Sure. But this April is the result of a tragic amount of bad luck combined with performances at the nadir of the margin of error.

    Comment by Jaker — April 29, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  57. Or:

    3. Vegas believes that the real odds are significantly worse than 30-1 but also believes that general public sentiment still views the Jays’ chances more favorably. Therefore Vegas prices the Jays at 30-1 because there is no need to offer longer odds in order to get the public to bet on Toronto.

    Comment by BornRuffians — April 29, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

  58. And that terrible season allowed them to draft Justin Verlander. Worth it?

    Comment by Kevin B — April 29, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

  59. That’s the big thing here. Why are all the analysis of this subject restricting themselves to just April records? What is so special about April other than it coming first? You are eliminating 5/6 of the data if you do that. The question being asked here is just wrong. It should be “how many teams given the current playoff picture today (i.e. the extra wild card) have had a month of the season with a winning percentage between .3 and .4″. That would be much more interesting than these superficial looks at the data.

    Comment by No — April 29, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

  60. Last factoid for me:

    They had more 4+ run losses than total wins.

    Comment by Glorpo — April 29, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

  61. Also, the premise of the article is that the Jays are buried because of their start, regardless of how good they are. Restricting comparison to only sub .400 Aprils seems to suggest their record demands a downgrade of expectations. Maybe it does,but that seems beside the point. Wouldn’t it be better to include the good teams that fell behind to cover the possibility that the Jays turn out to be great?

    Comment by _David_ — April 29, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  62. You are selectively just ignoring the teams that have done well after making huge free agent splashes, such as the 2009 Yankees, 2007 Red Sox, 2011 Phillies, and others before them. Also, the 2011 Red Sox won 89 games, their season is remembered as a failure because they bombed in September, but by any objective standard, they were successful in creating a very good baseball team.

    Comment by Michael Scarn — April 29, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  63. Right now all the guys in “The Trade” have compiled .2 WAR (thats with injured Jose Reyes’ .6 WAR). If you include Dicky, who was kind of an extension of “The Trade” that number goes uo to .5.

    If all the guys in “The Trade” put up a combined WAR less than 10, do you think Loria will will hang a banner inside Marlins Park?

    Comment by JuanPierreDoesSteroids — April 29, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

  64. Let’s put it this way.

    Justin Verlander Career (JVC): 126 wins
    2003 Detroit Tigers (03T): 43 wins

    JVC: 1,487 Ks
    03T: 764 Ks

    JVC: 460 UBBs (unintended walks)
    03T: 522 UBBs

    JVC: 138 HR allowed
    03T: 195 HR allowed

    JVC: 37.5 WAR
    03T: 5.4 WAR

    JVC: 1,586 IP
    03T: 1438.2 IP

    Comment by Well-Beered Englishman — April 29, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

  65. yeah miami totally won this trade, as eovaldi, alvarez, and hechiavarria are certain to be everything johnson, buerhle and reyes aren’t.

    Comment by tylersnotes — April 29, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

  66. Good assessment.

    Comment by Jaker — April 29, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

  67. This. Coming into this year, I assumed the Yankees were the division favorites myself. They won the division last year and the team did not change all that much. Toronto got better, but last year they finished 22 games out of first place to a Yankees team that had some serious injuries (Gardner out for the season, A-Rod broken, Mariano out). I am the opposite of a Yankee fan, but it seemed stupid to underestimate them.

    The Yankees didn’t do much last year. While I don’t agree with Jason that these moves were “prescient,” the truth is that the Yankees didn’t have a pressing need to make major moves to remain a division favorite. As a Red Sox fan, I love our great start, but I also note that the Yankees have suffered some injuries while we’ve been pretty healthy. Any team that doesn’t keep its foot on the accelerator will be left behind in the AL East. In that light, the Jays are already going to need to claw just to get a wild card spot.

    Comment by B N — April 29, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

  68. “If all the guys in “The Trade” put up a combined WAR less than 10, do you think Loria will will hang a banner inside Marlins Park?”

    No, because he would not want to spend money on a banner. However, he will be willing to put up a banner if the county pays for it. Otherwise, he’d consider seeing if Las Vegas would be willing to put a banner up for him instead.

    Comment by B N — April 29, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

  69. The Red Sox were already a very good baseball team, in that they won 89 games in 2010, then brought in Gonzalez and Crawford, among others, and subsequently won 90 games and missed the playoffs. Yes, if they didn’t tank down the stretch we’d think differently of them, but there’s a saying about the Queen of England’s privates that fits that bill.

    The other teams you mentioned had pretty good cores built from within and added to them which is exactly what I said worked. The team’s I noted made major offseason overhauls which people thought would lead to them being top tier teams and that hasn’t worked out.

    Comment by Trotter76 — April 29, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

  70. That’s a fair question to ask, but I think the point isn’t so much that the Jays have been bad this month, but that they are currently 9-1/2 games out of first place. If we were to look at how poorly a playoff team played in say, June, we’d want to know how many games they lost in the standings that month to make a fair comparison.

    I know without answering the question you asked that there’s no way to say this with full certainty, but I’d posit that it’s far more difficult to dig a hole in April than it is to have a shitty June when trying to make the playoffs.

    Comment by That Guy — April 29, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

  71. the marlins of april 2012 were actually similar in narrative to the blue jays. both were teams that were trying out bold new plans in competitive divisions after acquiring a lot of talent in the offseason. a lot of people thought the marlins would be contenders heading into the year. both teams have been beset by bad luck and injury.

    it’s possible the jays play out the season like the marlins and sell everything off, but also highly unlikely.

    but any similarities are just narratively convenient. josh johnson and jose reyes were quite good for miami last year. Buerhle and bonifacio were playing close to replacement level, but few people are hanging their hat on those guys (although buerhle’s contract could be the biggest albatross for the team the next 3 years).

    if the jays fail this year, it will be for similar reasons the marlins failed– bad luck, injuries, and players who played at or just below projected performance but severely under expectation.

    Comment by tylersnotes — April 29, 2013 @ 4:26 pm

  72. I’ll just leave this here:

    Comment by Chris from Bothell — April 29, 2013 @ 4:31 pm

  73. Let me re-phrase that last line…
    …it’s far more difficult to make the playoffs when digging a hole in April than it is to have a shitty June.

    Comment by That Guy — April 29, 2013 @ 4:32 pm

  74. As well as losing a series to the Royals who could have easily swept them.

    Comment by That Guy — April 29, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

  75. Give Cashman a little credit. The Yankees team that won the division last year is not the team on the field right now. The Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner pick ups are looking pretty good right now.

    Comment by Jason H — April 29, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

  76. I’m sure it is all by design. 12-24 is a kinda magic number in the t-dot.

    Comment by sukjo — April 29, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

  77. Not really true at all. The Yankees, at least on paper got significantly worse. They lost Swisher and Martin and didn’t really replace them. Granderson, Arod, Jeter and Tex were already hurt and expected to miss serious time. The rotation looked vulnerable with CC having a ton of mileage on his arm, Andy being well past 40, Kuroda pushing 40 and Hughes being enigmatic. They got Mo back but he was replacing Soriano. The only guy they signed of note was Hafner.

    Long story short, there was plenty of reasons for a Yankee hater to be optimistic.

    Comment by jpg — April 29, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

  78. Can people read?

    The comment says nothing about the turf causing that SPECIFIC injury; yet for some reason that is the conclusion people want to draw so they can then argue against it.

    Were people really not concerned about Reyes’ health with 90 games a year on turf?

    Comment by Hank — April 29, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

  79. i still think the AL East will be tightly contested by the time we get to the end of the year, with all 5 teams being in the mix. boston is playing a fair bit over their heads at the present time, particularly in the starting rotation. buchholz, lester and dempster are not going to pitch to a sub-3.00 ERA for the rest of the year, for example. not that they’re a bad team, but i think they’re closer to slightly above average than league best. similarly, the yankees cannot get away with playing so many sub-par players (nix, francisco, nunez, ichiro, stewart, overbay, wells, etc.) for much longer, at least one would think. sabathia also appears to be in serious decline, which makes their rotation much more questionable. baltimore’s future success is limited by their very poor starting rotation, and they will face inevitable regression from chris davis. the rays are currently playing a bit below what they’re capable of, but i dont think their true talent level is such that they can run away with the decision. in short, maybe the reason i’m less worried about the jays is that the rest of the division looks so much more questionable. if this was any year in the past 10 or so, i would agree that the strength of the red sox, yankees and rays would mean that the jays would be dead in the water after such an awful start. as it is the task is difficult, but i think the division’s collective mediocrity (probably a bit harsh) will keep them in it.

    Comment by Kevin — April 29, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

  80. Vegas absolut lines on winning a title serve as lousy estimators for actual odds. They’re sucker bets to start and don’t adjust quickly as favorites fade. I’d give you 100:1 on the Jays winning the World Series.

    Check the Lakers odds of winning the NBA title over the past month.

    On the other hand, relative odds are often useful as how the public perceives teams.

    Comment by Adam S — April 29, 2013 @ 5:09 pm

  81. It’s a funny argument to say that the Blue Jays schedule has been hard because they’ve played seven games against the Yankees, and a series against the Red Sox, and Orioles. Those are the teams they play, those are the teams they have to beat. Are you going to argue that the Yankees aren’t as good as their record because they’ve been fattening up against the Blue Jays?

    Comment by Preston — April 29, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  82. The Angels last year were certainly expected to be in the hunt for the division or a wildcard. I would say 77% expected that.

    Comment by Sen-Baldacci — April 29, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

  83. “Before the season season started,” for some reason, sounds to me like the beginning of a Jay-Z song about baseball.

    Comment by Jon L. — April 29, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

  84. And the Tigers stormed back to earn a playoff spot just 41 months later! Hope is not dead in Toronto!

    Comment by Jon L. — April 29, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

  85. As opposed to all those teams without ifs?

    Comment by Impossibles — April 29, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

  86. This is excellent.

    Comment by Ruki Motomiya — April 29, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

  87. But coming first matters quite a lot. We make choices based on what happens first. Can’t do much to change your team when you go 9-19 from games 107-135.

    Comment by wally — April 29, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

  88. Its not a funny argument really. The fewer games that teams have played, the more unbalanced the competition will be between teams. The Jays have played a bunch of good teams in the early going. They will get to easier stretches of schedule later in the year. The Jays probably haven’t helped themselves by underperforming even relative to the tough competition.

    The Yankees have also played good teams so far. I think the Yankees have played over their heads relative to their competition so far. For example, there is no chance the Yankees are this much better than the Jays. Hopefully the Yankees can build on their good fortune when they get to some weaker teams!

    Comment by Jason H — April 29, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

  89. you forgot the big long strong of #%&@’s that came at the end of that…

    Comment by wally — April 29, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

  90. It would be interesting to see if we could redo this same thing, but make a second criteria which is preseason predicted winning percentage greater than say, 54%.

    Comment by wally — April 29, 2013 @ 7:44 pm

  91. This is a good look at their predicament, and I agree that the Jays are in trouble. Because of that I took a look at some stuff a week or so ago. Asking the question, ‘Is it unusual for a team to struggle before winning the World Series?’, I looked at the last 5 champs. (I could have expanded it to all playoff teams, but…) Not only did the last five champs struggle, they struggled for lengthy periods. Then something happened and they all played MUCH better:
    The ’08 Phillies were 24-22, then went 68-48 (.586);
    The ’09 Yankees were 15-17, then went 88-42 (.677);
    The ’10 Giants were 23-22, then went 69-48 (.590);
    The ’11 Cards scuffled along around .500 until the 3rd week of August, then went 23-9 (.719) and the Braves collapsed;
    The ’12 Giants were 18-19, then went 76-49 (.608).
    Even last season, the non-World-Series-champ-but-playoff-bound A’s were 37-42 on June 30. They went 57-26 (.687) the rest of the way to leap frog TEX and LAA.

    I looked into this before they were swept by the NYY and, yes, teams that start with a terrible April fare poorly. I looked at it from the other end of the season, though, and found that teams that do well also fare poorly for long stretches.

    If the Jays are within shouting distance of .500 by the end of May (+/-5), there’s hope. Are they capable of going 23-9, a la STL? I think so. If they started right now, they’d be 32-26. Then they’ll be adding an All Star-calibre shortstop to the top of the batting order and the middle of the infield…

    Comment by chief00 — April 29, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  92. first you say it, then you do it…

    Comment by cnote66 — April 29, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

  93. I put money on the Blue Jays falling short of the projections. Say what you will, I didn’t just come in after the fact (to be fair, I hardly post here, so you have no way of verifying that).

    The Blue Jays were overhyped, just like the Marlins were last year. No, it’s not the same team as the Marlins last year, but they suffer from the same flawed expectations.

    The fact that Reyes got hurt really shouldn’t surprise anyone. The fact that Dickey has regressed shouldn’t have surprised anyone (to be fair, he could turn it around when healthy). The fact that Bautista has had some trouble staying on the field shouldn’t surprise anyone (Dickey’s note applies here too, I suppose). I don’t think it’s Monday morning quarterbacking to look at those facts and realize that this team was gonna have trouble hitting their 90+ wins.

    If the Angels and Marlins of 2012 taught us anything, it’s that buying a winning team through free agency is tough to do.

    Comment by Todd — April 29, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

  94. I wasn’t enamoured of this deal when it was made, but that was more to do with the amount of salary the Jays had to absorb. Almost everything has gone wrong.
    Also, although 15 of 31 Fangraphs guys picked them to win the AL East, I doubt they were massively confident. The AL East was always going to be a hard one to pick – any of those 5 teams could win it.

    Comment by Maverick Squad — April 29, 2013 @ 8:43 pm

  95. So you’re telling me there’s a chance…YEAH!

    Comment by Lloyd Christmas — April 29, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

  96. Actually since I’m a Nats fan, I loved the trade- it made on of the teams in my division a lot worse (at least for this year).

    Comment by Maverick Squad — April 29, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

  97. I didn’t realize that the Rangers won the AL West last year.

    Comment by Mark Muir — April 29, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

  98. I never understood why everyone thought the integral parts of a 69 win team would suddenly get it together and compete in the toughest division in MLB.

    Comment by deacondrake — April 29, 2013 @ 10:31 pm

  99. Steve Avery (yes, that one) threw 16 innings for them after 4 years out of baseball.

    There was, at most, one good pitcher on that team (and he wasn’t good that year). Other than Avery (who was beyond done at that point), no pitcher has more than 6.8 career WAR except Jeremy Bonderman (16.8), who had almost all his value in 2004-2008.

    Matt Roney’s -0.6 WAR that year came despite holding batters to a .260 BABIP.

    In 84 innings, Will Ledezma had a 29.1% ground ball rate.

    Nate Cornejo allowed 58 walks and 46 strikeouts (!) in 194 innings that year.

    The team LOB% was 66.5%.

    Comment by dl80 — April 29, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

  100. I’m more curious as to how you drew the conclusion that the Jays’ turf is terrible? I’ve been on their turf when it was brand new prior to the 2010 season, and it’s got a lot of give to it. I’d actually argue it was more forgiving than grass, to the point where concern was raised about whether or not it was too squishy (for lack of a better word).

    Comment by PG — April 30, 2013 @ 12:17 am

  101. Bonus points if you discount those stats to present value.

    Comment by David — April 30, 2013 @ 12:39 am

  102. I think the Marlins could challenge the Tigers, but the two reasons I don’t see it are:
    Ricky Nolasco
    Jose Fernandez

    They have Alvarez on the DL that may come back.

    The Jays are cooked. Dickey is in trouble, no Reyes for a while, and now Josh Johnson looks to be an unknown and he might not even pitch….who knows?
    In that division, they are cooked. Too many injuries already, and that division is GOOD<

    Comment by Rye Rye — April 30, 2013 @ 2:37 am

  103. I meant the Tiger record of 03′

    Comment by Rye Rye — April 30, 2013 @ 2:38 am

  104. They have pitching problems too. Good luck seeing Johnson stay healthy all year. Romero is in A’. Do you think Happ can keep it up? Dickey should be good enough. I do see Buerhle and Morrow turning the corner eventually.

    Comment by Rye Rye — April 30, 2013 @ 2:44 am

  105. Eovaldi wasn’t part of the deal.

    Comment by Brownie — April 30, 2013 @ 6:01 am

  106. Please excuse the essay… TOR has problems all ’round the diamond, not just in the rotation. But that’s part of the point: they may not be as good as projected, but they’re certainly not as bad as they’re playing. Things will level off and I expect a regression to career norms. Also, the Jays began the season 11-17 but finished with 86 wins in 2008. Their manager? John Gibbons.

    The biggest question in the rotation, imo, isn’t whether Happ will keep it up or whether Johnson will be injured. No, to me the biggest question is whether a pitch-to-contact guy like Buehrle can have ANY success in the AL East or the Rogers Centre. Having a difficult, AL East laden schedule to this point will work in their favour once they start facing teams from other divisions. Part of NY’s and BOS’s success to this point is that the Jays are horrible. Their lousy play has made BOS, NY, et al look better than they are, and TOR seem worse. They recently played NY & BAL, losing 3 1-run games and 4 two-run games. Their record? 2-8, with a -10 run differential.

    The biggest question on the field is whether their defense can improve to the point of being ‘average’. Rasmus has been terrific in CF (!); everyone else has been below average. An improvement here helps them: they lead the league in unearned runs yielded. It’s important because they’ve already played 17 games decided by 2 or fewer runs. Average defense probably splits those games, giving them an 8-9 or 9-8 record rather than their actual 6-11 record.

    The biggest question at the plate is two-pronged: can they execute the fundamentals consistently, and can they start getting on base? They’ve fallen into an all-or-nothing habit at the plate: lots of HR but an incredible # of Ks. Runners aren’t moving along, bunts aren’t used consistently, and the rabbits (Bonifacio, Rajai, Lawrie, Izturis, Kawasaki, etc.) can’t be released.

    These particular problems weren’t anticipated by many (any?) prior to the season; certainly not to this extent, anyways. If they can rectify these issues satisfactorily, they’ll surge ahead. If that happens, the surge will likely gain momentum when Reyes returns. His return–if he’s healthy–has the potential of having a tantalizing dual effect. First, it marks the return of a popular player. Second, it’s like making a mid-season trade. They’d be replacing the incredibly-popular-but-no-more-than-adequate Munenori Kawasaki with a dyed-in-the-wool Major League All Star.

    It’s a lot of “ifs”, but life’s like that…

    Comment by chief00 — April 30, 2013 @ 8:41 am

  107. And the 2012 Marlins had Hanley Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Omar Infante, Ricky Nolasco, a crazy career year Justin Ruggiano,

    Comment by BX — April 30, 2013 @ 10:04 am

  108. “experiencing Johnson-like injuries”

    I would like to see that as the reason he, or anyone, gets placed on the DL on the official MLB transactions page.

    CIN – place J. Cueto (P) on 15-day DL retroactive to Aug. 8 with Johnson-like injuries

    Comment by Jason B — April 30, 2013 @ 10:40 am

  109. “People said Romero would be back”

    Did they? Color me surprised.

    Comment by Jason B — April 30, 2013 @ 10:44 am

  110. “Cashman is clueless”

    Who was making this argument? Can you provide any evidence?

    (Although you’re definitely right on the AA part, he certainly had a halo over him in a lot of commentators’ eyes.)

    Comment by Jason B — April 30, 2013 @ 10:46 am

  111. Are Johnson injuries kind of like Bobbit injuries?

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — April 30, 2013 @ 10:59 am

  112. The team they’re chasing right now is the over performing Red Sox. So it’s not as deep of a hole as it seems.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — April 30, 2013 @ 11:02 am

  113. As a lifelong Tiger fan I have tried very hard to never think about the 03 team. Thanks for ruining it for me.

    Comment by e123 — April 30, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

  114. It’s impossible to select which teams are ‘good’ teams because everything about that term is completely arbitrary. This team was projected to be a playoff contender because of the hype surrounding the off-season moves, but the analysis only bore out a team that was slightly above .500.

    I don’t think it’s a productive exercise – and I speak this as a life-long Blue Jays fan – to go around deciding which teams are ‘good’ and which teams are ‘bad’. We have statistics that tell us that. This Toronto team is a .375 team right now. They’re ‘bad’ by every statistical measure. They shouldn’t be granted a pass because they have players with solid name recognition.

    It would be hard to suggest that this team is *any* better than the 2012 Angels, let alone 4+ games in a more difficult division, and there’s no Mike Trout on the horizon for the Toronto Blue Jays. I’d agree with Cameron that it’s too early to pack it in, but there are pieces in this organization that are worth less to the Jays than the prospects they’d bring and I just hope the Jays management wouldn’t continue to mortgage the future holding out for some miracle of regression that’s likely never to come…

    Comment by Jordan — April 30, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

  115. It’s probably also worth mentioning that the way the scheduling worked out this year, the Jays are going to play significantly more intra-divisional games before the end of May than almost ever before. Regardless of the context in which one frames the above article, the losses become altogether *more* detrimental because nearly every one is adding a full game to the gap between any – and in this case *all* – of the teams above you.

    I’d go so far as to say that of all the teams in that list that weren’t intentionally fielded to be AAAA-caliber, the Jays are going to have the *hardest* time contending unless suddenly they emerge as the elite team in the East, miraculously reverse their typical inter-league fortunes, and the Central and West beat up on the remaining four teams in the East for the remainder of the summer. I think we’d all agree this isn’t a very likely scenario…

    Comment by Jordan — April 30, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

  116. I see everything you’re saying, but I think the question still remains: Are they much better than this? Yes, they’re better than the .375 they’re playing at, but by how much? How much better is JP Arencibia? He’s only had a couple of seasons, but can he be much more than a poor defensive catcher with some pop and little else? Who knows. Adam Lind? I think we know what Adam Lind is in spite of his aberrant contract year. Colby Rasmus? He’s not in his second year anymore. We know he’s becoming a valuable center-fielder, but he is what he is at the plate, which is to say, he’s likely not breaking out anytime soon and his value is probably more closely tied to his defensive skills than his offense. Brett Lawrie’s a tough one, but I think he’s still a couple years from a true breakout campaign. This leaves a rotation with a knuckleballer who’s 38 years old and pitched so well over the last two years that if he didn’t have a regression year, nothing in the world would be right again. Buehrle is and has been a solid pitcher, but he’s 34 years old and due for a serious and rapid decline. Who even knows what Morrow is start-to-start, and Josh Johnson hasn’t been ‘Josh Johnson’ for two years.

    Bautista is still a bonafide power guy if not the absolute monster he once was, and EE is probably still a 30+ homer guy if he regresses even slightly from last year’s surge. But otherwise, this team has serious question marks.

    I think that’s how this has to be considered. Name recognition and the expectation of breakout years often clouds the judgment early on, but I think the Jays are a fairly average team all things considered…

    Comment by Jordan — April 30, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

  117. Not to labor the point too much, but the only significant FA signing for the Jays was Melky Cabrera. Everybody else came via trade.

    Comment by Derp — April 30, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

  118. @Jordan: Take the numbers I mentioned in my first post in bite size chunks. To get where each of those teams were at those points in their respective seasons (minus the Cards, whom I mentioned already), they’d need to go 15-5, 6-0, 14-5, or 9-2. I think they’re capable of doing that.

    They also might be able to go 8 games over .500 (8-0, 9-1, 10-2, etc.) for a short stretch to get back to .500.

    Perhaps I’m just in denial, perhaps not. I don’t know. There’s just so much anecdotal evidence for either side of the argument.

    Dave Cameron also didn’t mention the ’08 Jays in the article. They were 11-17 (.393) On May 1, and wound up 86-76. Several changes took place (Gibbons replaced by Cito), but that team wasn’t exactly super talented.

    Comment by chief00 — April 30, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

  119. Don’t be confused into thinking that the Vegas odds are even trying to be representative of chance. In most Vegas books Toronto will be the worst result in the world series book as they had all the pre season hype and were backed from around 50/1 to 7/1 on the back of the trades. Lakers example is same, as they signed Howard and Nash. They are trading books not trying to project chances

    Comment by Teddy — April 30, 2013 @ 7:11 pm

  120. Congratulations on having the guts to actually bet money against the Blue Jays in the offseason.
    I didn’t bet money, but often warned in this blog that breaking the bank in the offseason rarely results in success.
    So I am on the record, but would rather have the money.

    Comment by Baltar — April 30, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

  121. I disagree with your premise. I hardly saw any comments, here or elsewhere, that doubted the Jays in the preseason. I saw more comments that said the season should be skipped and the Jays handed the crown by forfeit.

    Comment by Baltar — April 30, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

  122. So the Jays overpaid for a bunch of older players and ended up with lots of injuries.
    Boo hoo!

    Comment by Baltar — April 30, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  123. So do we now get a spate of comments about each of the very few teams that overcame a bad start to do well?
    Not interested.

    Comment by Baltar — April 30, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

  124. Good comment. You didn’t deserve to get flamed.
    So now I suppose I will get flamed, too.

    Comment by Baltar — April 30, 2013 @ 8:10 pm

  125. Are you related to the DaveC who wrote the article above espousing the exact opposite view from this comment?

    Comment by Baltar — April 30, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

  126. Yeah, trying to win with 1/3 to 1/4 the payroll of the top teams by spending money wisely hasn’t worked out well for Tampa and Oakland at all. Tampa only averages about 91 wins per season and the A’s only beat California and Texas for the AL West title last season.
    They should throw out all their sabermetric ideas and just increase their payrolls to $200M per year to sign all the big name free agents.
    Stupid GM’s!

    Comment by Baltar — April 30, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  127. Yeah, the consensus picked the Jays to move up to first in the AL East because they made so many offseason moves and the Orioles to finish last because they made hardly any.
    The majority somehow missed the fact that the Orioles were a far, far better team to begin with.
    By the way, where are all the offseason pundits who were touting the fall of the AL East, which is the best division in all of baseball again.

    Comment by Baltar — April 30, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

  128. Looks like it’s time for another 5 year plan. Turns out everyone’s little golden boy Alex Anthopoulos was just JP Ricciardi Jr. Rinse. Repeat.

    I can’t believe all the people who fell for this garbage. Toronto seems to be the only city where you can sell tickets simply through hype. Who needs to win ball games when we can just prop the team up on false hope and empty promises?

    This ballclub stinks, and the cupboard is bare. Fire everyone and start over, we need to start creating a new atmosphere in Toronto where winning games becomes more important than selling cell phones.

    AA is in full on panic mode now, calling up Ricky Romero after just 1 start in A ball.

    The writing is on the wall. The ship is sinking…

    Comment by Lee Marvin — May 2, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

  129. Hahaha I wonder how Lee feels about the Jays now.

    Comment by prankmunky — June 23, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

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