Blue Jays’ 2018 Season By the Numbers: From 0 to 28,707

Blue-Jays;-Pillar;-Grichuk;-Hernandez

Toronto Blue Jays outfielders Teoscar Hernandez, Kevin Pillar and Randal Grichuk. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

The most important number for the 2018 Blue Jays could be considered 89, as in the losses they endured during a frustrating season.

But that’s just one of the numbers that tell this team’s story. From 0 to 28,707, here are some of the others…

Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.

0: Troy Tulowitzki didn’t appear in a single game this year after undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs on both heels. Meanwhile, shortstops Aledmys Diaz, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette and Kevin Smith enjoyed strong seasons, further muddying Tulowitzki’s future role in Toronto. As for a possible position change, the 33-year-old said earlier this summer: “I’m a shortstop. If someone’s better than me, I’ll pack my bags and go home.”

.381: Facing upper-minors pitching for the first time in his career, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. batted .381. He hit for power, too, with 20 homers, 29 doubles and a triple. And despite playing the season at just 19-years old, he struck out just one more time than he walked. Now on the cusp of the big-leagues, Vlad Jr.’s the best prospect in baseball.

3: Thanks in large part to Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays’ farm system ranks as the third-best in MLB, according to Baseball America’s most recent rankings. Many Blue Jays prospects graduated to the big-leagues in 2018, including Danny Jansen, Ryan Borucki and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., while newcomers such as Jordan Groshans, Orelvis Martinez and Hector Perez joined the organization over the summer.

4: Russell Martin, the Blue Jays’ 35-year-old catcher, started games at four positions this year. Aside from his duties behind the plate, Martin started once in left field, once at shortstop and 16 times at third base. In case his versatility was in doubt, he also managed the final game of the season.

5.14: The Blue Jays’ rotation combined for the third-worst ERA in baseball this year, ahead of only the Orioles and Rangers. Improving on that mark will be a must ahead of 2019.

6: Rowdy Tellez’s first eight MLB plate appearances went like this:
double
double
double
flyout
double
strikeout
double
double
After hitting those six doubles, the 23-year-old rookie would later add four homers on his way to a .943 OPS in the big-leagues.

7: After a dismal start at the plate, Kendrys Morales rebounded to post an above-average offensive season. Most impressive of all was the stretch in August when he homered in seven consecutive games, coming within one of tying the all-time MLB record.

8: Once they realized they weren’t going to contend, the Blue Jays moved eight players in summer trades: Steve Pearce, J.A. Happ, Seung-hwan Oh, Roberto Osuna, John Axford, Aaron Loup, Curtis Granderson and Josh Donaldson. The returns ranged from relatively disappointing (a player to be named for Donaldson) to immediately productive (Billy McKinney, who arrived in the Happ trade).

9: The Blue Jays walked off nine times, most memorably on September 20th when Justin Smoak capped a seven-run comeback with a game-winning home run.

11: Hit streaks are one thing. This summer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. did something even more impressive, reeling off 11 consecutive multi-hit games. He was the first rookie with a 10-game, multi-hit streak since Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1911.

20: From Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki to Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, 20 Blue Jays spent time on the disabled list this year. The Donaldson injury was most costly of all, as he appeared in just 36 games before the Blue Jays traded him to Cleveland for a PTBNL (Julian Merryweather), who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery and about to turn 27.

24: Sam Gaviglio didn’t join the organization until March 21, when the Blue Jays acquired him for a player to be named in a minor trade with the Royals. At that point the right-hander wasn’t part of the big-league plans. It’s telling, then, that Gaviglio finished second on the team with 24 starts. Credit Gaviglio for taking the ball, but this shows how far the reality of the Blue Jays’ rotation diverged from their plan.

35: Some of the numbers that defined the Blue Jays’ 2018 season are fun. Not this one. The Blue Jays finished 35.0 games out of first place in the AL East.

36: By the time the season had ended, the Blue Jays had used 36 pitchers, a franchise record.

75: MLB suspended Roberto Osuna for 75 games after conducting an investigation into a May assault charge by Toronto police. The suspension was the third-longest ever issued by MLB. Osuna later agreed to a peace bond.

99: Ken Giles, who was acquired from Houston in the trade for Osuna, threw the team’s hardest pitches of the season at 99 m.p.h.

270: One of the most memorable moments of the Blue Jays’ season happened early on, back when contention seemed like a realistic possibility. With Dellin Betances on the mound, Kevin Pillar stole second. And third. And home. That’s 270 feet of stolen bases at once.

By the time the season ended, Pillar had quietly led the Blue Jays in wins above replacement (2.5), hits (129), doubles (40) and stolen bases (14).

793: After 11 seasons leading the Blue Jays, John Gibbons’ tenure as manager came to and end. He finishes with a record of 793-789, two memorable runs to the ALCS, and more wins than any Blue Jays manager not named Cito Gaston.

28,707: As the Blue Jays fell in the standings, fewer fans showed up at Rogers Centre. Attendance dropped off considerably, down from an average of 39,554 in 2017 to an average of 28,707 in 2018.

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