This may not come as a surprise to many people, but the Toronto Blue Jays rely heavily on the long ball.
In 2016 more than ever, it seems like the Blue Jays truly are an all-or-nothing offense. They have personified what it’s like to be a “feast or famine club”. When they do score runs, it’s usually in large outbursts, precipitated by several home runs. But when the Jays can’t go yard, the offense often dries right up.
It led me down the rabbit hole, wondering just how home run-dependent the Blue Jays have been this season. The results are pretty much what I expected, but I didn’t anticipate the Jays would be this reliant on hitting home runs.
The Blue Jays rank fifth in all of baseball when it comes to total runs scored via home runs. 322 of their 695 runs scored this season have come via home runs, which translates to 55.6%. Only the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners have scored more runs via home runs.
This is who the Toronto Blue Jays are – they swing for the fences. It often translates to home runs and an outburst of run scoring, but the Blue Jays’ one dimensional offensive approach also leaves them to long stretches of very-little-to-no offense.
The Blue Jays employ a lot of like-minded hitters in their lineup. When they’re all cranking balls out of the yard, things couldn’t be any better. But when the Blue Jays can’t go deep, it’s a real struggle to get guys across the plate. I think that’s been really evident during the Blue Jays’ current slide.
Being a home run-happy isn’t necessarily a bad thing; the top three teams on that chart above are currently in a playoff spot. But ideally, I think teams want to be in the middle of the pack and not lean so heavily on home runs to help them win games.
At this point in the season, it’s too late to abandon what’s gotten the Blue Jays to where they are right now. The Jays aren’t going to morph into a small-ball team overnight.
But with several players potentially leaving as free agents this offseason, the Blue Jays’ front office may look to build a more more balanced lineup by bringing in less swing-happy hitters as early as next season.