The Toronto Blue Jays didn’t exactly get off to the ideal start.
John Gibbons’ club has struggled out of the gate with their pitching rotation struggling to find consistency and an offence that hasn’t been able to do much outside of the long ball.
While some fans have begun to hit the panic button, there have still been some bright spots and reasons for optimism – one being the play of their new shortstop.
With just over a week of the season in the books (remember this is a marathon, not a sprint), here is the first look at the stock report from around the major leagues.
JOSE REYES, TORONTO BLUE JAYS, SS
While not much has gone right for the Blue Jays in their first seven games, Reyes has certainly performed above expectations.
The Blue Jays shortstop leads the team in runs, steals, walks, batting average, and hits thus far. He has gotten base at a .516 clip and has been the ideal table setter for a team that hasn’t had a true leadoff man since Shannon Stewart.
Reyes has a stunning .444 average with three RBIs and three steals and has been just as strong defensively at shortstop – a position that has been a question mark for the Blue Jays for most of the last two decades.
If only his teammates could follow suit and drive in some runs…
JUSTIN UPTON, ATLANTA BRAVES, OF
Can anyone stop this guy right now?
Upton has quickly meshed with his new club and has paid early dividends since joining the Braves in an off-season trade from Arizona.
In just seven games, the outfielder leads with the National League with six home runs — including a walk-off dinger against the Chicago Cubs last week.
He isn’t only hitting home runs (Pedro Alvarez, cough cough) as he is batting .400 with three doubles and nine RBIs and is a big reason the Braves lead the NL East with a 7-1 record.
The Braves have to be pleased they decided to invest in the Upton brothers.
JON LESTER, BOSTON RED SOX, SP
Jon Lester had the best years of his career under John Farrell and the left-hander has looked like an all-star once again now that he is reunited with his former pitching coach.
Lester built off a strong spring with two solid starts – most notably a seven-inning shutout over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
So far, the two-time all-star has picked up wins against divisional rivals in both his starts. He has posted a 13/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio with an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of just 1.00.
If Lester can maintain this type of production under Farrell, the Red Sox may be in the playoff race after all.
R.A. Dickey, TORONTO BLUE JAYS, SP
It’s far too early to judge but R.A. Dickey has looked nothing like a Cy Young winner in his first two starts in Toronto.
After a wild first start against Cleveland, the right-hander was shelled against Boston last Sunday allowing eight runs on 10 hits in just 4.2 innings.
Dickey only allowed five first-inning runs ALL of last season, and he matched the total against the Red Sox. Right now, Dickey is averaging 2.5 home runs per nine innings and over five walks per nine.
This isn’t all that new for the knuckleballer as he didn’t really hit his stride until May last season so I wouldn’t go throwing out my Dickey jersey just yet.
Expect the 38-year-old to figure it out as his knuckleball should eventually round into form.
JOHN AXFORD, MILWAUKEE BREWERS, RP
If you thought Dickey’s start was ugly, it hasn’t been nearly as bad as what John Axford has done in Milwaukee
The Canadian reliever has already been replaced as the Brewers’ closer by Jim Henderson as Axford has given up at least a run in all four of his appearances.
Axford has already compiled two losses and one blown save while posting an ERA of 24.30 and a 3.30 WHIP. He has given up four home runs and has allowed nine earned runs in just 3.1 innings of work.
The Simcoe, Ont., native needs a drastic turnaround or he may find himself in the minor leagues soon enough.
JOSH HAMILTON, LOS ANGELES ANGELS, OF
Many around the baseball world were wary when the Angels signed Josh Hamilton to a mega-free agent deal and we’re starting to see why.
Hamilton has struggled mightily in his first week with his new club, hitting just .138 with no home runs and three RBIs.
The ex-Rangers slugger has been a strikeout machine, picking up 11 in just 29 at-bats and did not record a hit in five of his first seven games.
It was pretty telling when Rangers manager Ron Washington manager intentionally walked Albert Pujols three times in order to pitch to Hamilton last Saturday. Never a good sign of things to come.