|Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures|
No, that’s not your eyes deceiving you … that is in fact Jeff Mathis rounding the bases after a home run. It may have been his first of the season, but he’s already matched one-third of his home run output from last season.
Statistically speaking, Jeff Mathis has been one of the worst hitters in the Major Leagues these past few years. But offense has not always been Mathis’ strong suit, as he’s been revered as a great defensive catcher, and one that calls a great game.
But now that the Blue Jays have their hands on Jeff Mathis, maybe then can turn that reputation around and at least transform him into a respectable hitter.
Whatever John Farrell and Dwayne Murphy have done, it seems to be working. Albeit it’s a minutely small sample size, but Jeff Mathis has four hits in three games; three of those hits being for extra bases.
I don’t know whether the Blue Jays have “fixed” Jeff Mathis, but there is definitely something about his batting stance. Below is a screencap from a random at bat with the Angels last season.
It’s hard to tell from this particular angle, but it looks like Mathis’ legs are very close together. Compare that to this screencap from Wednesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays:
This clearly shows Jeff Mathis has a much more open batting stance, and his feet definitely have a bigger gap in between them. I’d even go as far to say that Jeff Mathis’ new stance looks very similar to Brett Lawrie’s. Here’s the reverse angle:
Again, nine at bats is an extremely small sample size, but the results thus far are encouraging. If Dwayne Murphy can work his magic with Jeff Mathis like he did with Jose Bautista and even increase Mathis’ output by 1%, then that will at least be some improvement.
Sorry kids … J.P. isn’t going anywhere
Before things start to get out of hand, I think it’s only appropriate to address the starting catcher “controversy” … if you could even call that. Jeff Mathis is not going to usurp J.P. Arencibia as the starting catcher.
Arencibia’s 2 for 32 start to the season is a little disheartening, but by no means is his job in jeopardy. Mathis may be the defensively superior catcher, but even at his very worst offensively, J.P. Arencibia still has the ability to hit over the Mendoza Line through the season … Mathis does not.
I really don’t understand why there’s all this concern about J.P. Arencibia, because he’s the same three true outcome hitter this season that he’s always been. J.P. is a hacker; which means he’s going to strike out a hell of a hot, but he will get a hold of some pitches.
In the meantime, I’m not holding my breath for J.P. Arencibia to ever hit above the eight spot in the lineup. John Farrell should never have him in a high leverage spot in the lineup, and that’s why he’ll probably always hit 8th or 9th.
Fans may have less qualms with Jeff Mathis right now, but he’ll continue to only get the odd start behind the plate. J.P. Arencibia is here to stay, folks.