If early April baseball is great for jumping to baseless conclusions, then mid-April baseball is a time for fans to convince themselvesthat the earlier baseless conclusions weren't really that off base. Or something like that.
This is where Blue Jays fans find themselves after 12 games. A team that was a preseason favorite to compete for at least a wild-card berth and, perhaps, a World Series championshipfinds itself in last place at 2-10 — the worst record in baseball — in the toughest division in baseball. Quite the unexpected turn of events.
So why are the Jays bucking the preseason projections so hard? Why do they look every bit like a long-term cellar-dweller?Well, here's the likely answer:It's still April.
Yep, April.That's not an oversimplification. That's just reality.
Though we'll never have 100 percent accuracy, thearray of toolsusedto calculate win totals and player statsgenerally proves accurate. Seldom do predictions turn out to be wildly inaccurate over the full season. Teamsthought to be good usually turn out to be good. Teams thought to be bad usually turn out to be bad. There might be aberrational streaks here and there, but over six months and 162 games we usually get roughly what was expected.
So, if the projections say the Jays will win 82-87 games, they will probably still win 82-87 games.
While true that few teams that have started 2-10 went on to playoff runs, most of those 2-10 teams weren't expected to do much anyway. The ingredients weren't there. The Blue Jays still have the ingredients for good things. So take a deep breath, Toronto.
Granted, it looks bad now. The team is 2-8 in its past 10 games and has so far this season dropped series to the Orioles (twice), Rays andBrewers. Entering Monday, they're hitting .212 as a team, good for 27th in baseball. The team on-base percentage is just .280, good for 29th in baseball.Their alleged mighty lineup has produced just seven home runs, also 29th in MLB (only the Red Sox had fewer).
Some other sorry stats: On offense, the Jays' .592 OPS is the league's worst. The 34 runs they've scored entering Monday is also dead last. On the mound, the team's 4.49 ERA is securely in the league's bottom half. The staff's1.33 WHIP is also safely subpar.
On top of all that, the injury bug has taken a bite. Slugger Josh Donaldson and starterAaron Sanchez have both hit the DL, and lefty starter J.A. Happ could soon join them, pending the results of an MRI for elbow soreness.
Still, with 13 games left in April, there's plenty of time for the Jays to salvage themonth (they've not even played half the month's schedule), and certainly plenty of time to salvage the season.
Believe it or not, 12 games counts as a small sample size. Plus, recent baseball history has shown that bad Aprils aren't always prohibitors to postseason play. Teams such as the 2001 A's (8-17), the 2006 Twins (9-15) and the 2007 Yankees (9-14)made the playoffs after horrid Aprils. Of course, that doesn't guarantee the Blue Jays a strong turnaround, but it should at least stave off the notion that all is lost in Toronto in 2017.
There's still a looong way to go, folks. Heck, there's still a long way to go in April. Teams usually aren't defined by 12 games.
Whether you're a melancholy Jays fan or a jubilant fan of the first-place Reds or Rockies, it's best to temper those early emotions with some context.
In other words, don't let April go to your heads.