One year after the Toronto Blue Jays led the Majors in home runs with 257 – 46 more than any other team – they’re leading the league in a different category.
With two more steals against the Yankees Tuesday, the Jays have stolen a Major League-best 23 bases through the first 17 games.
To put it in perspective – Toronto stole 58 all of last season, good for dead last in the AL.
If John Farrell took one thing from his time in Boston as the pitching coach, apparently it was to be aggressive on the basepaths.
The Jays stole nine bases in a four-game series with the Red Sox this weekend.
“That’s what they’re going to do and we’ve known that,” said Boston catcher Jason Varitek. “They stole what 30, 40 bags this spring?”
If there’s one guy I’m listening to, it’s Jason Varitek. The guy does his homework. And he’s right, the Jays swiped 36 bags in Spring Training, and Farrell has said from the get-go that he’s going to be aggressive with this team.
Travis Snider has yet to get it going with the bat this season, but he has five steals, one short of his career-high set last year – in 82 games. The Jays don’t seem too committed to getting Juan Rivera in the lineup though, so Snider should get plenty of time to see if he can finally hit Major League pitching.
Now that he’s running, and successfully at that (5-for-6 in SB attempts), he becomes an intriguing buy-low option, though there is certainly some risk involved there.
Aaron Hill already tied his career mark with his sixth steal on Tuesday night, but apparently it was too much for the second baseman, who had to leave the game with a tight hamstring immediately afterward. That isn’t a good sign, but Hill too gets a huge bump in value if he’s stealing bases.
He’s listed as day-to-day, but if he comes back without any problems and continues at this pace, we’re talking about 25-25 potential. I don’t care what his batting average is, he’ll drive in runs and be en extremely valuable player at second.
If Hill is out for extended time, don’t be afraid to go get John McDonald, who is actually swinging a decent stick this season and has attempted to steal twice, though he’s been caught both times. Or Mike McCoy, who has shown a ton of speed in the Minors and can play a variety of positions.
Corey Patterson is another guy to watch. Playing on his fifth team in six years, the 31-year-old has been swinging a decent bat, but his value comes from his legs. He’s been given the green light by Farrell and the Jays and is 3-for-4 stealing bases already in just eight games. He’s been hitting second in the order and makes a nice add in deeper leagues.
The ironic thing: Rajai Davis has just one steal thus far. That’s mainly because he’s been nursing an ankle sprain, and through seven games he had been on first base just four times and attempted to steal twice. When healthy, he will be running. A lot.