Toronto Blue Jays: Tulowitzki Should Leadoff, Jays Approach


 Sitting just below .500, the Toronto Blue Jays should place Troy Tulowitzki in the leadoff spot and seriously consider changing their approach at the plate.

Coming into Wednesday’s second tilt versus the New York Yankees the Toronto Blue Jays are 22-25 on the young season.

How the Blue Jays are only three games below .500 at this point honestly seems incredible. There has been no unity to the team this year. Good starting pitching, with no hitting. Good offence with no bullpen support and then just all around not getting it done.

Some questions need to be asked of this group and the people running it at this point. The season is still early, but it’s time to turn this around sooner rather than later. It’s a long season and those last two months are what the Jays need to set the table for.

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We have been looking at trying to get wins any way we can so it may be time we revisit some of the luxuries of a season ago, starting with the leadoff position.

Right now there is a bit of a platoon happening with the left-handed hitting Michael Saunders and the right-handed hitting Kevin Pillar.  Saunders is swinging it well this year, but it hasn’t translated to great success as a leadoff hitter. Pillar is more of a leadoff type of guy who uses his speed and puts the ball in play, but unfortunately his plate discipline makes it tough to insert him here.

So let’s insert a name that is familiar but hasn’t been used in a while, Troy Tulowitzki. Sure, he is not a prototypical leadoff but the Jays won when he was hitting here. Yes, everyone else was playing well and overlooking his poor numbers, but simply having him here creates one hell of a mind-state for the opposing starting pitcher.

Regardless of how well Tulo does OBP-wise, having Tulo, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion as the hitters coming at you creates some pressure-pitches right off the bat. People who know baseball know it’s not the number of pitchers you throw, but the number of pressure pitches one throws that creates fatigue.

Having Tulo hit lead off creates a lot more factors and increases the pressure pitches immediately. Especially when considering the first pitch of the game can be a 1-0 score, much like Bautista’s lead-off abilities.

The difference is Bautista is known for rising to big occasions and I like him hitting in a more pressure spot. Tulo seems like a guy who will hit more solo shots at the moment and his hits can start rallies as a leadoff hitter, instead of being dependent on them as a hitter slotted into the 5-6 hole.

Either way, this entire situation comes down to the Jays approach as a team, which has been pretty abysmal lately. The Jays are good when they are thinking the opposite field gap, diving over the plate and making pitchers throw perfect pitches on the inside black of the plate. They are looking for hangars right now to tee off on, but forgetting that even when they stay on pitches away they can drive it for doubles and homers. Here’s an example below:

Here you see Donaldson hitting a three-run walk-off home run last year against the Chicago White Sox. Closer David Robertson makes a mistake with a fastball down the middle, but check out Donaldson’s approach. He is expecting something off-speed by his swing and foot-land, but he trusts he can throw his hands at the fastball and stay balanced. Low and behold the line-drive leaves the yard.

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The Jays don’t need tape-measure homers that it appears they are trying to launch in every 2-0 count they get into. The Jays are a powerful team, but for a while it would be great to see them keep their hips closed and hit some balls hard rather than leaking and being all or nothing. Give up some, probably gain a lot.

The Jays aren’t having the same tough at-bats as we are use to seeing. Lots of early count ground ball outs and not enough battling after getting down.

One guy who isn’t swinging well but is working on his approach clearly is Russell Martin. He’s not feeling well, a bit injured but he isn’t saying anything and just trying to go out and play. Given what our other option at catcher is, we must thank him for this.

Next: Blue Jays: Does Bautista Stand a Chance With his Appeal?

There is time here still Jays’ fans, but sooner is always better than later.  I know they are working hard to turn this around, but maybe it’s time to work a little smarter.