Things looked great for the Blue Jays in early summer.
Back then, just as we were spinning up for Canada Day and finalizing summer plans, Toronto sat in first place in the American League East one game ahead of Baltimore with the same number of wins (46) as Detroit and Seattle. The lineup looked solid and their biggest question mark was who would be the everyday 2nd baseman.
As summer wanes and we head into September, the Jays’ season is all but done. Barring a miracle drive to make up the 6.5 games deficit to the two wildcard contenders (while leaping three other teams in the process), it’s time to dream about 2015. Don’t agree? According to J.P. Morosi (citing fangraphs.com), Toronto has a 1.4 per cent chance of making the playoffs.
August has proved especially painful. The Jays are 6-16 (4-7 at home and 2-9 on the road) and have scored the fewest number of runs in Major League Baseball (72) while giving up more runs than every team in the AL after Minnesota and Chicago. While fans and critics focus on the scoring drought, the Jays pitching has fallen off in the dog days, too.
It's hard not to associate the Blue Jays' decline with management's decision to stand pat before the July 31 trade deadline, but in terms of raw numbers, August is a starkly different month.
Here’s a selection of charts that plot Toronto’s month-by-month production to date:
It's hard to win when you don't score
After a torrid May in which Toronto hit 48 home runs and outscored everyone in the Majors, run production leveled off. The numbers from April, June and July are relatively consistent, but as you see from the chart, the August swoon has had a dramatic effect on runs per game.
Blue Jays production vs runs per game
Month by month home runs, runs and RBIs versus average number of runs per game
Not making contact
But it isn't just the power numbers that have helped the August slide. The Jays are not making contact and are not getting on base, not at the rate they were earlier in the season. In August, Toronto has posted their lowest team average, on-base percentage and slugging of the season.
Blue Jays production vs winning percentage
Month by month batting average, slugging and on-base vs winning percentage
When you do score, good things happen
This chart takes some explaining. The red bars represent the total number of runs the Jays have scored in a game, and go left to right from 0 (when they've been shut out) to 14 (the most runs Toronto has scored this year). The numbers below show how many times Toronto has scored X number of runs and the blue line shows winning percentage.
Score runs, win games
Number of runs scored (and how many games in which the Jays have scored X many runs) versus winning percentage
The pitching hasn't been great either
Jays starters in August have posted the highest ERA of the season -- something that doesn't help a team having trouble scoring runs. Other than the team's golden month of May, starters have hovered between 3.80 and 4.40 earned runs per game. The bullpen, though (next chart) had been on a much better trajectory, improving their ERA as the season continued. However, it's spiked again in August.