Wilner: If the Blue Jays keep this pace…

Toronto Blue Jays' Mark Buehrle, right, high fives Jose Bautista after the the team defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 during a baseball game. Chris O'Meara/AP

TORONTO, Ont. – The Toronto Blue Jays played their 54th game of the season on Wednesday night, sweeping away the Tampa Bay Rays with their first walk-off victory of the year, a 3-2 win that was their ninth in a row, 14th of 16 and 19th in 24 games.

The Blue Jays are first in the American League East by three games over the New York Yankees and the 34-19 San Francisco Giants are the only team in the big leagues that has more wins than the Jays’ 32.

The 54-game mark is significant in a season of 162, because it’s one-third of the way through. That means it’s time to get our calculators out and do some multiplying by three.

Pro-ration is a dangerous game, which is why it almost never works. It assumes not just consistency but equality in not only performance, but also in health and therefore games played. It doesn’t account for hot streaks or slumps, so it really is just about the worst predictive metric one can use. But it’s still a whole lot of fun.

So how about we do some one-third mark extrapolation? Remember, it’s counting stats only, not rate stats because, obviously, the rate stats stay the same no matter how they’re pro-rated.

First up, the one number that really matters: The Blue Jays are on pace to pick up 96 wins and take the A.L. East by nine games over the Yanks.

From there, let’s take a look at the pitchers, remembering the Jays have just three starters who have been part of the rotation for the entirety of the first third of the season.

Mark Buehrle is off to a sensational start, which means his numbers pro-rate to a sensational year. If he continues at this pace, Buehrle will finish the year with a 27-3 record and 220 innings pitched with only six home runs allowed.

R.A. Dickey is set to go 15-12, throw 205 innings and strike out 162, while Drew Hutchison’s first third pro-rates to a 12-9 finish with 177 strikeouts in 195 innings pitched.

J.A. Happ is on pace to make just 15 starts and go 12-3 with 81 strikeouts in 89 innings.

As for the bullpen, Casey Janssen missed a lot of time early, so his numbers only pro-rate to a 21-save season, though in 21 opportunities, allowing 21 baserunners (and no runs) in 27 innings.

Brett Cecil is on pace to pitch 64 innings in 75 appearances, with an outstanding 96 strikeouts and no home runs allowed. Steve Delabar is looking at a 9-0 record for the season as a reliever, with 63 innings in 72 appearances, and Aaron Loup is on pace to throw 76 innings in 72 appearances.

Todd Redmond, if his last two-thirds of the season are like his first, will go 0-9 out of the bullpen with 75 innings pitched in 39 appearances, and the Blue Jays are on pace to go 3-36 in games in which he’s used.

Offensively, the Blue Jays are having a great season, but how great will it look over 162 games?

If he keeps up his current pace, Edwin Encarnacion will finish the season with 48 home runs, 132 RBIs and 105 runs scored. Jose Bautista is on pace to hit 36 homers, drive in 108 runs, score 117 times and draw 132 walks against 114 strikeouts.

Neither Bautista nor Encarnacion has missed a game this season, so they get pro-rated to 162 games played each.

Melky Cabrera is looking at a 210-hit season with 39 doubles, six triples and 24 homers. Throw in 105 runs scored and 87 RBIs and only 45 walks in 159 games played.

Brett Lawrie has avoided the disabled list to this point as well – he’s on pace to play 141 games this season and belt 24 homers with 84 RBIs. But he’s also looking at only 54 runs scored and zero stolen base attempts.

Adam Lind’s power numbers haven’t been there yet, his numbers show only nine homers and 39 RBIs over a full season, with 51 runs scored.

Jose Reyes’ pro-rated numbers are 39 doubles and nine home runs, 87 runs scored with 33 stolen bases in 36 attempts, but just 111 games played.

Dioner Navarro’s pace through the season’s first third puts him at six home runs and 63 RBIs for the year, with 30 walks and only 45 strikeouts, something Blue Jays’ fans aren’t used to seeing from their catcher. Navarro is on pace to catch just 90 games, which shows the Jays have been keeping a close eye on his playing time so as not to wear him down. After all, Navarro hasn’t been an everyday catcher since 2009.

Juan Francisco hasn’t been around that long, but “pace” puts him down for 27 homers over a full season, in just 93 games. With that come 120 strikeouts, though.

And Colby Rasmus might be out of sight, but not out of mind. His numbers get pro-rated to 27 home runs as well, with 57 RBIs and 57 runs scored, but 141 strikeouts.

Take a look at this list again at the end of September and I guarantee you there won’t be more than three or four numbers on the whole list that will wind up adding up, but they’re awfully nice to dream on. What’s incredible is that even with the Blue Jays going so well, being this hot, Buehrle and Francisco are the only ones on the whole team to whom one could point and say are performing well above what could be expected. And that’s a great sign for what pro-rates to being an extremely fun summer in Blue Jays land!

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