There’s no question that the Toronto Blue Jays’ have struggled to start the defence of their American League East championship, and there’s no question they’re thrilled to see the calendar flip over to May, even though they didn’t exactly break out in their first game of the season’s second month.
There are many reasons for the Blue Jays’ rough start to the season, and a seemingly insane lack of offence mixed with some untimely bullpen blow-ups would be the largest ones. Those two deficiencies, while very real, seem to have led some to conclude that the off-season trade of Ben Revere to Washington for Drew Storen was a huge mistake that has led to the collapse of the late-season juggernaut we all so terribly enjoyed last year.
I said at the time that Revere for Storen was a trade I would make 100 times out of 100, with the Blue Jays needing late-inning bullpen help to replace Mark Lowe and LaTroy Hawkins (and Aaron Sanchez, though we didn’t know it at the time), Revere getting too expensive for what he is and a ready replacement in left field being available in Michael Saunders. Really, there was no reason not to make that trade.
Despite how the first month of the season has gone, there still isn’t.
Storen has been a disappointment to start the season, without question. Through eight innings of work this season, he certainly hasn’t been the guy the Blue Jays thought they were getting when they made the trade – and that’s putting it mildly.
Revere lasted just two at-bats into Opening Day before suffering a strained oblique muscle. He hasn’t played since.
Of course, no one could have anticipated that Revere would contribute nothing to his new team by the beginning of May, but that’s not why you shouldn’t pine for Revere. The reason is that, since the Kevin Pillar Leadoff Experiment came to an end on April 17th, the Blue Jays have been getting great work out of the leadoff spot, much better than Revere provided both in Toronto or anywhere else.
Michael Saunders moved to the top of the line-up for the Jays’ 13th game of the season, so they’ve played more games without Pillar in the leadoff spot than they have with him. Saunders has led off ten times and has hit .282/.378/.538. That OPS of .916 blows Revere’s career .676 out of the water and even with Revere’s .319/.354/.381 stretch as a Blue Jay last year – the best run of his career – he doesn’t come close to what Saunders has done so far.
Ezequiel Carrera filled in for Saunders for four games and hit an otherworldly .474/.500/.737, so in the overall, the Blue Jays’ leadoff man has hit .344/.415/604 since Pillar was moved out of that spot. Clearly, the issue with the Blue Jays’ lack of offence this season hasn’t been because they’ve been missing any sort of spark from the top of the lineup.
Now, that’s certainly not to say that the leadoff spot is going to maintain that level of production – it’d be very, very hard to do so – but Saunders still has more than 200 points of OPS to give before he falls to the level of Revere’s career numbers.
The trade would be a lot easier to swallow had the Blue Jays been getting the level of production they’d expected from Storen. Or heck, if they’d even been getting decent performance out of Storen, which they haven’t. But the 28-year old’s track record suggests the Blue Jays will get a lot more out of him as the season progresses.
It hasn’t been a good start to the season for the Blue Jays at all, but not having Ben Revere around anymore doesn’t have anything to do with it.